Online auction seeks new owners for former Motorola Harvard campus
The former Motorola campus in Harvard is being featured via an online auction site where bidding starts at $2.7 million on April 19.
While the property has been bought and sold, it has remained vacant. The owner of the property, Optima International in Miami, Florida, is hoping a new incentive will spark interest. The 325-acre parcel is part of a new enterprise zone, where the buyer would be eligible to receive a state tax incentive package.
Optima, an investment firm, purchased the land and building for about $16.75 million in 2008. Motorola Inc. invested roughly $100 million in the cellphone plant when it opened in 1996 and housed about 5,000 employees with promises of economic growth. But dreams changed. The economy changed. And so did Motorola, which then cut tens of thousands of workers and split into two companies.
"We hope that this time an end user will buy it and put people to work," Harvard Mayor Jay T. Nolan said Tuesday. "So far, it's just been investment firms and not the end users. They bought it and hoped to resell it but it never happened."
Irvine, California-based Ten-X, formerly Auction.com, will host the two-day online real estate auction along with the property broker, Jones Lang LaSalle.
Ten-X's site on the property states that it offers "a rare opportunity for a user to acquire a superior quality corporate campus in move-in condition at well below replacement cost. This facility can either be utilized by one user or multiple tenants."
The city of Harvard is eager for the property to sell and has contacted all the companies that have looked at the site to make them aware of the online auction.
The campus was already considered for a water park, a college, light manufacturing and even a state or federal prison, said Charles Eldredge, executive director of the Harvard Economic Development Corp.
"There's a short list of companies that have a need for a building that large," said Eldredge, who also serves as the administrator to the new enterprise zone. "So we're going to follow the auction closely."
"This property has been listed all along, since 2008, it never left the market," Eldredge said. "Optima bought it to sell or lease and nothing has happened since then. They had no use for it themselves."
But the recession hit in 2008. The economy wasn't the only thing that held back the former Motorola campus in Harvard. It was its size, said Eldredge.
"It's extraordinarily large, on more than 300 acres, and the buildings are larger than anything around it for miles around," Eldredge said. "Besides the economy, very few companies want a building that size."