Milton Theatre to go on the auction blockBuilding to go to the highest bidder in April
Milton — The Milton Theatre may soon have a new owner. The 104-year-old historic venue in downtown Milton is expected to go to public auction this spring.
Jim Peffley, president of Delaware Community Investment Corp., the owner of the Union Street property, said the organization's board voted to take action on the building. The auction is expected to be held at the end of April and will be open to all interested buyers.
“We have talked to some potential buyers who have looked at alternative uses, but quite frankly its a special-use property,” he said, meaning a theater venue is the only suitable use. “We would like to basically get it off our books rather than hold it for an extended period of time.”
DCIC is identifying a firm that can handle the auction, he said.
The DCIC is a nonprofit organization that was formed by a group of financial institutions in 1994. In addition to creating or preserving affordable housing through loan and investment programs, the organization also provides long-term financing for commercial real estate projects in areas targeted for revitalization.
In November 2009, Milton Development Corp. defaulted on a mortgage of more than $1 million owed to DCIC, the mortgage holder. In September 2010, the theater went to sheriff's sale where DCIC purchased the theater property for $282,500 and an adjacent Victorian-era home for $137,500. The home has since been sold and only the theater remains vacant.
In September, DCIC listed the theater with Prudential Gallo for $300,000. The notice caught MDC officials off guard. The MDC has been trying to negotiate with DCIC since it lost control of the property in 2010. Over the last several months, the group has made a push to gain community support through donations and pledges.
Maryellen Davis, acting president of MDC, said her group plans to bid for the property with whatever money it has raised.
“We hope that by the end of April all this drama will be over, and we will own the theater on behalf of the Town of Milton and all our other supporters, and be working on a grand reopening,” she said in an email. “We are beginning communications with our supporters to call in their pledges. Very shortly, we will be actively raising funds.”
All money will be returned if MDC is not successful in reacquiring the theater, she said.
The buyer will also have to put money into fixing up the building. The theater is structurally sound, but Peffley said, “it is an old building that is not open regularly, so it does need a little TLC.”
When Hurricane Sandy flooded downtown Milton, water ruined the carpet in the building. DCIC has pulled out the carpet and performed minor repair work, but much more needs to be done before the building can opened for public use.