eBay Listing Reveals Details of Million-Dollar Sale by City of East Lansing

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Thursday, March 7, 2019, 10:47 am
Alice Dreger

Above: Map showing location of the site, and Mayor Mark Meadows, who has defended the auction in public remarks.

The newly-located City of East Lansing’s listing of a public piece of land on eBay reveals that bids on the property went up $50,000 in the hours just before of the close of the online auction.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon in the face of growing public criticism of the matter, the City said that it notified “approximately 12 interested parties” of the auction of about 6 acres of public land.

There appears to have been no other public advertisement of the sale of this property on Merritt Road, near Costco, former site of the City’s Department of Public Works, and it’s not yet clear how the City decided who to notify of the sale. This was a sale City staff apparently expected would bring close to or more than a million dollars, based on the listing’s starting price of $950,000.

Local business people interested in the property tell ELi they were not informed it was up for auction.

The City did not provide the eBay listing in its public statement on the controversial sale. The listing was sent to ELi this morning by an anonymous tipster.

The eBay listing shows that the City was playing up the potential use of the site as a medical marijuana provisioning center. Questions about the property were to be directed to Tim Dempsey, East Lansing's Director of Planning, Building, and Development.

The 17 bids received were all identity-protected, but the site shows that the starting price was set at $950,000 on Monday, January 7. By January 11, a bid had come in for that amount.

There was no further activity until the day the auction closed. That morning, the bidding went up, rising steadily from $950,200 at 8:32 a.m. to $1,000,900 at 9:20 a.m.

Records on eBay show that the City joined the online sales site on Friday, December 14, 2018 – just a couple of weeks before the auction opened.

The City joined eBay under the user name “dem-2786." It does not appear to have put up any other public assets for sale that way.

Council voted 4-0 on Tuesday without discussion to approve a contract with the winning bidder, Kodiak Landarc, a marijuana industry player. ELi raised questions about the sale and the contract in advance of that vote, but Council did not respond or ask staff to respond to those questions before voting.


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