FAIRFIELD — Vallejo’s former veterans hall should soon have an owner who wants to lavish some care on it.
The Veterans Memorial Building at 444 Alabama St. is owned by Solano County. But that could soon change. The county on Tuesday had what amounted to an auction to get rid of what it considers surplus property.
Edward Boydston, 83, of Vallejo, came out the winner with a bid of $320,000. He’s a Navy veteran who remembers the old veterans hall from better days and lives near to it.
“I’m going to fix it back up, like it should be,” Boydston said. “I hate to see it like that.”
When he’s done, the hall will be available for commercial and community uses, he said.
The old veterans hall has stately, classical-style architecture and such features as a stage and ballroom. But its a fixer-upper that has sat deteriorating for years. Problems range from leaks to dead birds in some of the rooms.
Built in 1929, the building had deteriorated by the 1970s to a point where veterans groups had trouble caring for it. Solano County took over maintenance chores in 1977, but also found itself falling behind.
In 2007, the county settled a lawsuit with veterans groups by moving them to a different building. The Veterans Memorial Building has sat empty since, with boarded-over windows. No longer did it qualify as one of Vallejo’s grand buildings.
“It’s an eyesore, Boydston said.
The county set a minimum bid price for the building at $25,000. Four people submitted sealed bids, with Boydston submitting the highest bid by far at $127,623.
Then board Chairwoman Linda Seifert invited people to make oral bids. Three people got into a bidding match and the price kept going up. One person stepped to the microphone to say $135,000, another to say $149,000 and on and on. Finally, as the amount topped $200,000, only Boydston and a woman kept stepping to the microphone to keep topping each other.
The price topped $300,000 and two kept at it until Boydston bid $320,000.
“Going once, going twice,” Seifert said and slammed down her gavel.
At about the same instant, the woman stepped back to the microphone. But she had hesitated.
“Too late,” Seifert said. “It is to Mr. Boydston at $320,000.”
County Real Estates Services Manager Keith Hanson said Boydston has 30 days to have the property inspected. The estimated close of escrow is late November or early December.
Boydston has the option of pulling out of the deal after the inspection, Hanson said. If that happened, the county would turn to the next-highest bidder.
What happens to the building after it’s sold will be overseen by Vallejo, not by Solano County. Hanson said the buyer will have to go to the city to get all of the necessary permits.
The county on Tuesday also accepted Icon Aircraft’s $2.1 million bid to buy 14 acres of vacant property on Beechcraft Road near Nut Tree Airport. Hanson said the company has 30 days to do an environmental inspection for such things as wetlands and has the option of walking away from the deal after seeing the results.
The county originally intended to sell a building it owns at 600 Merchant St. in Vacaville. Built in 1930, the building once housed St. Mary’s Catholic Church, then a courthouse and then a county center for child crime victims. It has been vacant since 2010.
The Board of Supervisors on Oct. 8 took 600 Merchant St. off the county’s surplus property list.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.