Sheriff’s sale of Lansing Corners slated for Friday

After months of speculation and rumors, the future of the former Lansing Corners property may soon come into focus.

The property will be up for bid April 23 at 10 a.m. as the Mower County Sheriff’s Department has scheduled a sheriff’s auction of the property.

“I just hope somebody can do something to bring it back to life because it’s been sitting dormant for a while now,” said Tom Miller, who is working through MF Investment LLC, and was granted an assignment of mortgage of the property. “It’d be nice to see the lights on for people coming in and out of Austin,”

Miller described himself as the owner of the mortgage and the note of the property. Wells Fargo was the mortgage company involved with the property at the beginning of the foreclosure process, but Miller’s attorney, Paul Sween, of Adams, Rizzi and Sween law offices, said Miller has taken control of the property from Wells Fargo.

Sween said Miller became involved with the property because he wanted to see a business, likely a restaurant return to the property.

While at least six sheriff’s sales have been scheduled and canceled in the last year, Miller said the sheriff’s sale of the property — 27017 U.S. Highway 218 — will happen Friday.

“By allowing the sheriff’s sale to go through on Friday, it will give someone an opportunity to purchase the property at an affordable price,” Miller said.

It’s unclear if Miller will be the person to turn the lights back on at the former supper club. When asked if he planned to bid on the property himself, Miller said, “I’m just going to have to wait and see. It’s just giving the opportunity to somebody that may be better suited.”

However, Sween said Miller will bid on the property, but Miller hasn’t determined the amount he plans to bid.

According to Sween, Miller would essentially be purchasing the property from himself. Though Miller currently owns the mortgage and the note on the property, the sheriff’s sale is necessary as a formality to clear the deed on the property, Sween said.

The future of the building is still in question. Sween would not confirm if Miller plans to open a restaurant at the location. Sween said it depends on what happens at the sale. If Miller maintains ownership of the property after the sheriff’s sale, he could choose to rent or sell the property.

Miller said several people have contacted him expressing interest in the property, both as a restaurant and for other commercial interests. However, Sween said few people typically attend such property sales. Most parties interested in purchasing the property would likely speak to Miller about a potential deal, though Sween said it is possible Miller could be outbid.

Miller, who works as a flight attendant with a major airline, has lived in the Austin area for about a decade. He said he used to occasionally go out to eat at Lansing Corners when it was a restaurant. While Miller said he has a financial interest in the property, he said his history with the business also played a part in his involvement, especially since he described the building as a “landmark business.”

“Any involvement in a landmark business is just … perpetuating it,” he said.

Miller said he became involved when an opportunity arose, and he said his involvement has evolved since that time. With about four acres of commercial property on Highway 218, Miller said he’s hoping to see the property come back to life.

“It’d just be nice to see something come back to life there, as most in the community would like to see,” Miller said. “That’s the thing. Through the sheriff’s sale, hopefully something good will come.”

Sgt. Martha Hauschildt of the Mower County Sheriff’s Department and a sheriff’s deputy will run the auction at the Mower County Government Center on Friday. After the sale, Hauschildt said a redemption period — typically six months — will begin April 23. During that time, the former owners, the mortgage company or anyone with a lean on the property can redeem the property.

Hauschildt said the mortgage company can petition to reduce the redemption period to five weeks. Sween said he anticipates the redemption period will be shortened.

A number of rumors have recently surrounded the property’s future. Along with talk that potential bidders plan to re-open the building as a restaurant, rumors have circulated that other potential bidders planned to turn the former restaurant into a gentleman’s club at the location.

Any bidders on the property must have the cash or a certified check in order to purchase the property, Hauschildt said.

Miller has been doing light maintenance on the building for about two months to do things like get the water turned back on and make other minor repairs. Sween said the building is in need of some roof work and other repairs since it’s been vacant for about two years, but he said Miller is waiting to make the changes until after the sheriff’s sale.

“It’d be nice to see the lights back on and see the parking lot full,” he said. “Because what a way to come into Austin.”