2006-07-15 / Top News

Mackinaw Crossings To Be Offered at Auction August 7

By Karen Gould

Mackinaw Crossings, the outdoor shopping and entertainment center in Mackinaw City, designed after the Disney hospitality model, will become a condominium of shops and services, with stores to be sold at auction Monday, August 7. The facility features 52 retail stores, outdoor walkways and entertainment areas, an indoor 830-seat stage theater, and a restaurant converted from the old Mackinaw City train depot.

Bidders can buy individual stores or the whole thing. Some properties will be sold to the highest bidder, while others will require the approval of the three men who own the complex.

The current owners, Bill Shepler of Mackinaw City, Mike Ryan of Detroit, and Jimmy Wehr of Springfield, Missouri, say it is time to sell.

In a prepared statement, Mr. Shepler said, "For over two years, we have been planning the initial public offering of the individual units. We've explored many methods of sale. It was determined that the auction process was fairest and the most effective way to offer these units to both the current tenants and to the general public."

"It's time for the independent, individual shop owners to own their stores," he told The St. Ignace News. "We've created it, it's added a lot to the community, and a lot of store owners have asked to buy. We're just fulfilling that request."

The complex is in its 11th season and covers more than 10 acres of land. Retail units range in size from approximately 450 square feet to more than 2,600 square feet.

Fourteen properties will be sold as "absolute," which in auction terms means the units are sold to the highest bidder and no limitations or reserve prices will be imposed.

"The buying public determines the selling price," said John Haney, auction manager at Higgenbotham Auctioneers International of Lakeland, Florida, which is the company managing the sale.

The remaining units will be sold pending bid approval by Mr. Shepler, Mr. Ryan, and Mr. Wehr.

Two owners already have purchased their stores, which will not be a part of the auction. They are Teysen's Gallery and Teysen's Gift Shop, owned by Vicki and Greg Teysen of Mackinaw City, and Courtyard Cinema, owned by Leonard Dawson of Bellaire.

The outside common areas include curved walkways, flower gardens, a food court area, and an outdoor stage. A miniature river cascades through a concrete path and flows along one area of the winding complex, while fountains are posted at entrances off Central and Huron avenues.

Costs covering land and structures in the common areas have been incorporated in the square footage price of each unit, explained Mr. Shepler, and once sold, the new owners will form an association and a governing body to manage the complex and those areas.

Sidewalk performers, musicians, and caricature artists stroll the common areas and a nightly laser light show is free to visitors. The complex mirrors a Victorianstyle village, though built on a three-quarter scale with lower roof lines to give visitors a warm feeling, explained Mr. Shepler. Building facades offer intricate details and 185 paint colors were used on the structures.

"It's unique," said Mr. Shepler. "There is no other place like it, other than Disney."

Ninety percent of the retail units are leased to sell clothing, books, fudge, and namebrand memorabilia. Nine units are empty this season.

"The dream I had 20 years ago has come to fruition," said Mr. Shepler. "We built it, it worked, and it brought an additional one million people to the city."

He added, "We're proud of what we've done here." The auction is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the indoor stage theater. Winning bidders are expected to make a 10 percent deposit on the sale price with the balance due October 1, 2006. A 10 percent buyer's premium will be added to winning bids to determine the total purchase price.

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