Sold: Old grain elevator goes for $23K; vintage planes on the auction block


The State of Minnesota has auctioned off everything from cars to unclaimed property left at the airport and confiscated guns – now it can add a derelict grain elevator and vintage wildfire-fighting airplanes to the list.

That crumbling, abandoned grain elevator, which stands along Hiawatha Avenue, was auctioned off Tuesday morning. The highest – and only – bidder hopes to turn the massive concrete structure into apartments.

Adam Mackie, an Ely native who works as a U.S. Naval officer in Germany, bought the elevator for the minimum bid price of $23,000 at the auction, which lasted all of one minute, the Star Tribune reports.

Chris Mauzy, a property manager in the Twin Cities, represented Mackie at the auction. He told the Star Tribune that Mackie hopes to explore turning the elevator into apartments, but if the city won't allow it Plan B will be to tear it down and build apartments in its place.

The elevator's Hiawatha Avenue location – right along the Hiawatha light rail line – could be a prime location for an apartment complex, investors have noted. But that will likely cost a pretty penny; the Star Tribune reported it could cost roughly $2 million to tear it down.

The grain elevator, which sits on a 35,000-square-foot plot of land on 41st Street East and Hiawatha Avenue, fell into the care of Hennepin County when the parcel's previous owner failed to pay taxes on the property, county tax records show. The elevator was built in the 1930s, but hasn't functioned as a viable "agricultural site" for "some unknown time" and has had its equipment picked over by "intruders," according to a county report.

Mauzy told the Star Tribune that Mackie researched and preplanned before making the bid.

There have been talks to turn another defunct Minneapolis grain elevator into apartments, but plans have never gotten off the ground.

Vintage water bombers go to auction

Minnesota's two vintage water-bombing planes are on the auction block for far more than the defunct grain elevator – and starting at just over $1 million, both can be yours.

The CL-215 water bombers were often the first line of defense against destructive wildfires in Minnesota. The DNR has owned the planes since 2001, but now it says they're too old to maintain and too expensive to replace, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

The two water bombers are available for bidding online now through Jan. 20, with the minimum bid listed at $50,000 each. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, two bids had been placed on the 1987 plane (lot No. 12727) bringing the price to $55,250. The 1985 plane (lot No. 12726) had zero bids.

Paul Wannarka, a fixed wing operations specialist with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center, told BringMeTheNews that this could be the first time the state has sold an airplane (it has auctioned off a helicopter, however).

Wannarka says the planes were a good tool and did a good job for them for many years, adding "we'll miss them."

The DNR plans to lease at least six Fire Boss planes from Aero Spray, based in Appleton, during peak wildfire seasons (late March through June), the Duluth News Tribune says. It'll cost the DNR less, and be less of a hassle – Aero Spray will provide support, maintenance and pilots for the planes, the newspaper says.

The DNR also holds live auctions annually, and there are several scheduled for the fall, the Minnesota Department of Administration and Surplus Services' official auction site notes.

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