The closing is to take place this week.
Laidlaw Corporation began as a family-owned company in the 1890s and incorporated in 1917 in Peoria, manufacturing bale ties. Diversifying through the years and keeping in stride with changing trends and technology, the plant became a manufacturer of a variety of products, including coat hangers, fly swatters, screen door springs, miscellaneous wire pieces and the blending of chemicals used in the dry cleaning industry.
Laidlaw opened its Metropolis plant in 1972, and operated on almost 11 acres on Fifth Street next to Fort Massac State Park before relocating to a new $5.7 million facility in the Metropolis Industrial Park, breaking ground in 2001 and opening in 2002. In order to keep Laidlaw in Metropolis, the city provided the company a $2 million low-interest construction loan and additional incentives for the Industrial Park site. When Laidlaw was purchased in 2006 by Laidlaw Acquisition Company LLC, an independent company owned and formed by SilkRoad Resources LLC, a holding company focused on outsourcing opportunities to China, all but $250,000 of the loan was left repaid.
Several years of debate — disagreements about how much money was owed and Laidlaw challenging the validity of the mortgage — and litigation followed, with the city and Laidlaw entering a settlement agreement in August 2011.
“They wanted the city to release the insurance proceeds to fix the roof (which had been damaged in the summer of 2011 by straightline winds). The city said it wouldn’t release unless Laidlaw (which by this time had changed its name to Oldlaw) agreed it owed $250,000 plus interest,” city attorney Rick Abell explained in a July 2013 interview. “Ultimately, we settled that where the city agreed to release the insurance proceeds where they could fix the roof and in return, Laidlaw had to dismiss their lawsuit.”
Per that agreement:
• Laidlaw acknowledged there was a valid first lien against the property for the debt that’s owed the city therefore, owing the $250,000. Terms in the agreement included when and how the amount would be paid..
• And the city agreed 1) not to charge interest on the property for a year, 2) the mortgage would be repaid once the building was sold and 3) Laidlaw continues paying toward the plant’s insurance and utilities.
By July 2013, Laidlaw had not paid the last two year’s taxes, causing default of the agreement, and the city began pursuing the collection of the debt — a process that ultimately ended with foreclosure and the auctioning of the facility and contents.
The bidding during the Jan. 22 auction started at $950,000 where it had left off when the bankruptcy trustee filed her motion to have the sale approved. Bidding for the property were Bob Wagner of Wagner Wholesale and Moving and Donnie James of James Enterprises LLC.
The final bid was $1,690,000 from Wagner.
“These guys bid against each other like two old bulls butting heads,” Abell said. “They kept going and going. It exceeded projections.”
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