Raceway property auctioned for $800

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 5, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
A grading contractor submitted the winning bid of $800 for the 200 acres of High Rock Properties, site of a planned world-class road course in Spencer.
Donald Rand, a principle in Spinnaker General Contractors, of Mount Ulla, edged out Harold Arthurs of East Ritchie Road, who wanted it for pasture land for his cows.
In the forced sale at the Rowan County courthouse Friday morning, Rand had the highest bid for the property, which comes with $4.5 million in liens and encumbrances.
Frank McGuire, a partner in High Rock Properties, said Rand is his partner in a new venture to carry out the race track project. Spinnaker Contractors of Mount Ulla has done grading on the race track site.
Rand declined to comment. He went to pay a 20 percent deposit ó $160 ó on the property, which has tax value of $2 million.
The sale is subject to a 10-day upset bid process. During that time, anyone can hike the price by 10 percent.
Anthony M. Flores, a Greensboro veterinarian who paid $25,000 down on for a membership and right to purchase a townhome, forced the auction, getting a judgment from Rowan County Superior Court.
Flores’ attorney, D.J. O’Brien of Greensboro, said through an e-mail Friday afternoon that the results of the sale was disappointing but not unexpected.
O’Brien said through upset bids or a resale, efforts will continue to collect Flores’ judgment against High Rock. “A lot of people have lost money on this project, and at some point an accounting must be made,” he said.
An estimated two dozen people gathered at the entrance to the courthouse Friday morning with a dozen signing up as potential bidders.
More than 100 people from across the country had paid $20,000 to $25,000 for memberships and the right to buy a townhouse. Flores is the only one to take legal action to recoup money so far.
McGuire said David Risdon, the former chief executive officer of High Rock Properties, collected $1.6 million in membership fees. Risdon lost control of the company earlier this year when he failed to pay off a loan. He had pledged his shares as collateral.
Kevin McDaniels of McDaniels Auction Co. tried to start the bidding at $50,000 but got no takers.
He kept lowering the amount, stopping at $4,000 when no one offered a bid.
“Are we done?” asked McDaniels.
One of the prospective bidders asked how much money was owed against the property. McDaniels said it was the responsibility of the bidder to do the research.
When the man loudly persisted, a deputy sheriff had a brief chat with the man, ending his questions.
McDaniels made one last call for bids, getting a $500 bid from Arthurs of East Ritchie Road.
Rand then weighed in at $600, with Arthurs raising his bid to $700.
Rand offered the $800 bid and no one was willing to top it.
McGuire’s family has controlling interest in High Rock Properties, and he said efforts are continuing to get financing to carry out the track, upscale club and townhouses. But McGuire indicated it would not be done as High Rock Properties.
Jody Everhart, mayor of Spencer, was one of the spectators.
Asked about the future of the race track, Everhart appeared skeptical. “There’s always a chance,” he said.
Everhart noted the town wants the current or future property owner to clean up the piles of debris left from the demolition of the old N.C. Finishing Co. building across U.S. 29 from the proposed race track site.
The town imposed a $75 a day fine on High Rock Properties for failure to clean up the debris. The fine has now reached $5,000 according to Larry Smith, town manager.