No interest seen during mill auction

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The future of Columbus Lumber Co. remains unsettled after aMonday morning auction of the Brookhaven industry in Chicago wentunattended.

“Basically, nobody showed any interest,” said Paige Barr, anassociate with Katten Muchin Rosenmann LLP, the law firm handlingthe sale of the sawmill. “The receiver is working to try to marketand sell the property, so that process is moving forward. Therewill be further opportunities.”

Columbus Lumber Co. co-owner Doug Boykin declined to comment onthe auction. Co-owner Jeff Grierson could not be reached forcomment.

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Both sawmill owners said last week the auction was only thefirst step in a process to restart the mill under new ownership,and both doubted Monday’s event would result in a sale. They saidthe auction was basically held to gauge interest in theproperty.

It is unclear how the lack of interest displayed Monday willaffect the process in the future.

Columbus Lumber Co. closed down and released more than 100employees on Sept. 24 after its creditor, Bank of America, orderedall operations halted.

The sawmill suffered during the economic recession, which beganwith a plummeting housing market and has resulted in historicallylow lumber prices. Several adjustments to the company’s workschedule, markets and products were unsuccessful in keeping themill financially viable through the almost two-year downturn.

Since the mill closed, both Boykin and Grierson have beennegotiating with Bank of America to find a solution to reopeningthe mill and restoring its many jobs. The hope is that the millwill be sold intact to a new owner rather than being stripped downand sold piece-by-piece.

“What we hope to have at the end of that process is someone tostep forward with a final proposal that suits the bank,” Griersonsaid last week.