Long time Rutland Developer Joe Giancola was the high bidder Friday morning when the historic headquarters of the Rutland Herald and several adjoining properties were auctioned off for $600,000 dollars.
A crowd of about forty people watched as five men bid on the four downtown parcels which total nearly an acre and a half. The bidding went slowly at first and had to be nudged along by auctioneer Eric Nathan who light heartedly encouraged several of the bidders not to let such a historic opportunity pass them by.
Besides the bidding price, Giancola will also have to pay $51,000 the properties have incurred in back taxes to the city.
He and his son Peter said they were surprised to have won and don’t have a clear development plan in mind yet.
“I came here not to bid,” laughed Giancola, “I was not going to buy this. This was not on my radar."
Shaking his head and pointing toward the building, he smiled adding, “It’s just one of those things that happens.”
His son Peter, a Vice President in the Giancola family of businesses said he's excited by the purchase. “There’s tons of potential. We’re right downtown; we’ve got street access. It’s all good.”
“We’ve got to just figure out what to do with it,” said Peter Giancola laughing. "But we’ll figure it out I’m sure.”
Asked if they plan to raze the existing buildings and start from scratch, both Giancolas said probably not.
“That’s not something we do," explained Peter. "Typically we don’t tear places down. We take a place and make it better in the existing footprint.”
Joe Giancola has developed a number of historic properties in Rutland including the former Howe Scale Factory.
He’s currently suing the city over a tax assessment on a former Rutland public school he purchased in 2013 that he’s turning into commercial rental space.
Despite that Rutland Mayor David Allaire said he’s pleased that the properties were purchased by a local developer.
“I hope to have a discussion with Joe in the not too distant future,” the Mayor went on, “to see what his thoughts are and his plans are and see how they’re going to mold with what we’re trying to do here in downtown Rutland.”
Brennan Duffy, head of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, said he and other city leaders have been waiting anxiously to see the outcome of Friday’s auction.
“We’ve been looking to develop a downtown hotel and this is one of the prime sites we’ve been considering,” added Duffy. “And that’s something we want to talk with Mr. Giancola about and see if he’s considered that. I don’t know if he’s had time to consider his options, but we’d certainly like to see the land developed to its highest and best use."
R. John Mitchell, President of the Herald Association, which owned the properties said the purchase price was less than they’d hoped, but that he was glad the sale had gone through.
He said moving out of the space associated for so long with the newspaper his father purchased in 1947 was tough emotionally - something he says hit hard last week when he moved out of his long time office.
“I had 53 boxes of my career and my father’s career when the movers came to take them. I didn’t cry,” he said laughing softly, “but I had that emotion and it came out of nowhere and hit hard. It surprised me.”
The newspaper will finalize its move to a new headquarters a few blocks away on Grove Street next week.