LIBERTY - Despite its failing to sell during an online auction on Wednesday, officials in the township still believe the former Metroplex property is close to finding a new owner.
Township Administrator Pat Ungaro said interest in the 11-acre Belmont Avenue complex during the undisclosed reserve auction was not the problem.
"We're all speculating, but from what I understand, there were enough bidders and a reasonable amount of interest," Ungaro said.
The once-bustling property, currently owned by Aswin Ganapathy and run by Dr. Indira Sammy, has sat mostly empty in recent years.
While the minimum bid was publicly set at $750,000, officials said, the highest bid also had to meet an undisclosed reserve amount. The two-hour auction was conducted by CBRE Marketplace Inc.
"We don't know what that reserve amount was, but apparently the bids didn't meet it," Ungaro said. "But from what I've been told, there were bids that were reasonably close enough to the point where they may still negotiate and cut a deal."
Due to the auction being closed, the number of bidders who took part in the auction were not available.
Ungaro said he has been in touch with Sammy, and he remains optimistic, but the potential buyer has not been made public.
"I got the kind of positive feeling during our talks that it made me conclude something could still get done," Ungaro said. "They're going to continue negotiating through the weekend and then we'll see where we stand."
The 153-room location, now known as Rodeway Inn, sits just off of the Interstate-80 exit. Over the last decade, it has seen owners change hands several times.
In 2008, local businessman Ray Travaglini purchased the property with a winning bid of $2.75 million. He was expected to invest up to $5 million in renovations, but Travaglini fell ill shortly after the auction.
Following a brief stint as a poker club in 2010, the site fell dark.
Due to the proximity to the busy interstate, Ungaro said potential buyers have all the reason in the world to maintain interest.
"I've been contacted by people from New York, Cleveland and all over the place," Ungaro said. "It has the potential to be a first class operation off the interstate again. We're still hopeful."