BOWLING GREEN - About 20 people showed up yesterday morning to see what might become of the old Ohio National Guard armory, but just one bidder came forward to try to buy the downtown landmark.
The Hanneman family, which owns the Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home next door to the vacant armory, offered $150,000 for the East Wooster Street property.
State officials said they should know by the middle of next week whether the bid was acceptable to the Ohio adjutant general. The property had been appraised at $280,000, then offered for sale at that price to the city and to Wood County, neither of whom was interested.
Mayor John Quinn, who attended the auction, said the lack of parking space and the enormous cost of renovation were among the reasons City Council did not want to purchase the building.
Kraig Hanneman said afterward that his family first became interested in acquiring the prop-erty about 10 years ago when they were looking at expanding the family business.
Expansion is no longer the reason, he said, because they are in the process of building a new funeral home on Bowling Green's west side.
Mr. Hanneman and his sisters, Kathy Hanneman Murray and Karla Hanneman-Hines, were noncommittal about their plans for the armory, which was built in 1910 and has 12,677 square feet.
"It's going to depend on zoning and different things they would let us do," Kathy said.
Mr. Hanneman said he would like to find out how residents of Bowling Green think the armory should be used. The building was once one of the larger venues in town for social gatherings.
"It's in all of our favors to have it be used in the most positive way, and that's what we're looking for," Mr. Hanneman said.
Linda Dobb, executive vice president at Bowling Green State University, has one idea.
Ms. Dobb, who attended yesterday's auction but did not bid, said at one time she thought the armory would make an ideal location for a Boys and Girls Club because the upstairs gymnasium is in relatively good shape.
"The university is always looking for opportunities to start partnerships in the community," she said, adding that she still hopes to start a teen center where youngsters could come after school for activities and tutoring.
From a historical perspective, the building is significant to BGSU, she added.
"This is where some of the first university classes were held," Ms. Dobb said.
Paul Lehman, a real estate specialist with the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, said he'd never conducted an auction with just one registered bidder. He asked Mr. Hanneman for his offer and waited while the Hannemans consulted with Bowling Green attorney Bob Maurer.
"Normally at this stage the bidding is fast and furious," Mr. Lehman joked.
The Adjutant General's Department, which is selling off unused real estate, recently sold its former armory in Napoleon for $56,000 to a private investor who plans to lease the building to several businesses or organizations. The National Guard's former Findlay armory was sold at auction for $110,000 this spring to Findlay auto dealer Tom LaRiche, whose business is next door to the armory.
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