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060116-dec-biz-mitsuend2

Mitsubishi employees said their goodbyes to friends and colleagues under the ghost of the Mitsubishi sign.

NORMAL — The former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant sold for $2.5 million last month — substantially less than its fair market value in January.

Mitsubishi and local taxing bodies had agreed the property was worth $5.9 million for tax purposes, establishing a $17.75 million fair market value. But the automaker sold the plant for a fraction of that, according to McLean County Clerk's Office documents dated June 20.

The sale price could have major implications for local taxing bodies that rely on property taxes from the plant. Those affected most would include McLean County Unit 5 schools, Heartland Community College, Dry Grove Township and the township's road district.

“It would seem there’s going to be a significant diminution of value,” said Bob Kahman, supervisor of assessments for McLean County. “The $2.5 million has to be the most relevant number (for future assessments) because this thing was exposed to the open market.”

MMNA Public Relations Manager Alex Fedorak referred questions about the price to Dan Irvin, who was MMNA general manager of corporate communications and public relations until the plant closed. Irvin, who now works for the town of Normal, said he is "completely in the dark with regard to this matter."

The new owner — Maynards Industries, which includes a United States division located in Southfield, Mich., and Industrial Assets Machinery of Huntington Beach, Calif. — closed on the 2.5 million-square-foot plant on June 1 and is now looking to sell it.

The buyer is listed on county documents as Delaware-based 100 Normal LLC. Steve Mattes, CEO of Industrial Assets Machinery, is listed as president of that company.

Kyle Ham, CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council and chairman of a task force searching for a user for the site, said Thursday he had "nothing new" to say on the process.

"We continue to have strong interest from multiple parties," he said.

Maynards handles about 100 plant auctions and liquidations per year, Maynards Industries USA Division President Taso Sofikitis said earlier this month. He added that the size of the Normal plant makes selling it more challenging.  

"It takes a unique operator to be able to utilize the whole facility for what it was built for," said Sofikitis.

If Maynards is unable to sell the plant, "we would plan on moving to liquidation of the assets and the facility," said Sofikitis, giving no timetable. "We will sell piecemeal the equipment to various buyers both through private treaty sale and an auction sale."

Mitsubishi laid off most of the plant's 1,200 employees in November after announcing last July it would end production there. The remaining 170 workers lost their jobs June 1.

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Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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Normal and McLean County Reporter

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