Bidding war survivor wins island in Fort Myers for $258,500

Submitted 
 A 1.4-acre island on the Caloosahatchee River in Lee County sold for about a quarter of a million dollars at an auction on Thursday.

Submitted A 1.4-acre island on the Caloosahatchee River in Lee County sold for about a quarter of a million dollars at an auction on Thursday.

— A bidding war sent an auction for a private island in Fort Myers into overtime.

In the end, the 1.4-acre island sold for $258,500 to a buyer who wanted to remain anonymous. The online auction started early Monday and was slated to end at 2 p.m. Thursday. It lasted an extra 30 minutes, with two bidders going head-to-head until one finally bowed out.

"It went into overtime until nobody bid within five minutes. And then it was over," said Lamar Fisher, president and CEO of Fisher Auction Co., which handled the sale.

Fisher said he couldn't disclose any information on the winning bidder, who doesn't want publicity.

It was an absolute auction, meaning there was no reserve, or minimum price, set for the property, which is undeveloped. Bidders had to put up $50,000 to participate in the auction; the amount is refundable to those who didn't win.

The auction generated national and even international attention. Ahead of the auction, articles ran in newspapers such as the New York Daily News and the London Times and the story was picked up nationally by ABC News, which helped generate interest from buyers.

There were 10 qualified bidders, from as far away as California and the British Virgin Islands. Others were from Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

After the deal closes in about 30 days, the name of the buyer will become public in Lee County property records.

"We were very happy with the overall results and the bidder was very pleased with the property they got," said Ryan Julison, a spokesmann for Fisher Auction Co.

The island's assessed value is $42,000, according to Lee County property records. After seeing news reports about the auction, Arthur Hoffman said he felt it was important to point out that in 2006 or 2007 a private commercial appraiser estimated the island's value at $1.6 million.

Having an island go to auction is rare. It was even rarer for it to be an absolute auction, Fisher said.

The island on the Caloosahatchee River can only be reached by boat. It was taken back by the lender, Pan American Fund LLC in Fort Lauderdale, after it filed an action to foreclose on a mortgage on the property in 2007.Former owners Arthur Paul and Pearl Hoffman, who have a home in Cape Coral, turned over the deed to the lender to avoid foreclosure in April 2008, court records show.

Zoning on the island allows a single-family estate, with docks. A small bed-and-breakfast could be put on the island if Lee County commissioners approved variances for it.

The island's assessed value is $42,000, according to Lee County property records. After seeing news reports about the auction, Arthur Hoffman said he felt it was important to point out that in 2006 or 2007 a private commercial appraiser estimated the island's value at $1.6 million.

He hoped to build a single-family estate or bed-and-breakfast there, but ran into financial trouble after several banks reneged on their loan promises, triggering lawsuits.

Ahead of the auction, potential bidders showed interest in developing a corporate retreat, a bed-and-breakfast or a fishing camp on the island.

"I think it's a good deal for the person that bought it," Hoffman said.

The sales price includes commissions for the auctioneer and the cooperating brokers.

"It really went global," Fisher said.

Fisher said he couldn't disclose any information on the winning bidder, who didn't want the publicity.

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