The former Engineered Plastic Components building at 300 Shelhouse Road, which has been vacant since 2016, is set to be auctioned at 1 p.m. April 27 at The Linden Banquet Center in Rantoul.
The building and 10 acres around it will be auctioned off separately.
Rick Levin, owner of the Chicago-based firm that will handle the auction, said a unique aspect of the auction is that it will be conducted on an absolute basis.
“I’ve been in the auction business for over 30 years. A high-bidder absolute sale is somewhat unusual for large buildings where the buyer gets to name their price” regardless of the top bid, Levin said. There is no reserve and no minimum bid.
The auction will start with a suggested opening bid of $250,000.
“I went to school at the U of I, and I know Champaign has a pretty large area of manufacturing and warehousing. There’s no way anyone could replicate this property for we think under $15 million,” he said. “Even though Rantoul is a little bit up the road from Champaign, if anybody is either a user or investor and is looking for a large piece of real estate, here you go. You can name your own price.”
Levin said the building does need some updating but is “in fairly good condition.”
Joel Zegart, an agent with Levin’s company, said an environmental report on the property came back clean.
The facility made interior trim for Mitsubishi Motors’ Normal plant and some service parts for General Motors. It took a hit when Mitsubishi closed its Normal plant in 2014.
At one time, it was one of three Rantoul plants operated by Collins & Aikman, which operated it as Rantoul Products. When Grinnell, Iowa-based EPC initially took over the former Rantoul Products operation, its facilities were located in two village of Rantoul-owned buildings on the former Chanute Air Force Base. It later opted to buy the Shelhouse Road property and move operations there in March 2008.
At one time, Collins & Aikman, which later filed bankruptcy, employed more than 1,000 people in Rantoul. It had been located there since the early 1980s.
After EPC closed the facility, it was sold in a property-tax sale. The investor was unable to sell the property and donated it to a Jewish nonprofit entity that trains rabbis.
“They didn’t really know how to do anything with that property,” Zegart said. “They couldn’t possibly pay the real-estate taxes, which are over $100,000 a year. They paid the taxes on the land, so there’s still an owner of the land, but they let the building go.”
Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer said there have been potential buyers of the property in the past.
“Part of what made that such a very difficult situation was the previous ownership group ... were very difficult to get hold of and difficult to work with on getting some conclusion on what a sale price or process might look like, and so I think that discouraged a lot of potential buyers,” Eisenhauer said.
He said this process “is extremely more suitable to how developers like to operate.”
Zegart said an attractive aspect of the property is its proximity to Interstate 57.
“I told (Levin) if he knew how to swing a golf club, he could probably hit our property from I-57,” Zegart said.
Another favorable aspect: It sits in an enterprise zone, which means no state sales tax will be charged on any improvements made to the property.
“That could be a meaningful amount. If you put $1 million in it, you could save $90,000,” Zegart said.
Local real-estate agent Herm Fogal will serve as an assistant on the deal.
To qualify for a bid card, bidders will be required to present a certified or cashier’s check for $100,000 to bid on the building and $40,000 to bid on the 10-acre parcel.