Since there was no sale, next Wednesday, ownership of the farm will revert
from bankrupt developer Ferguson & Flynn Enterprises to the holder of a $2.8 million mortgage on the property, Keystone Farm Credit Corp. of Lancaster County.
Geyer optimistically opened the bidding at $10,000 an acre for a 212-acre piece of the farm, but he had no takers. Then, someone bid $2,000, and the bidding crept up to $3,500 before the action ceased.
The second parcel of 172.6 acres was even less attractive to buyers, failing to find interest beyond $1,200 an acre. At that point, Geyer said he would sell the farm in its entirety and opened up the bidding, only to be met with stark silence.
Caucuses ensued among various groups of people, including Edwin Nicky, who was representing Ferguson & Flynn, and representatives from Keystone. Offers were made, but none were high enough to satisfy the principal parties, said Geyer.
"There was plenty of interest," said the auctioneer, "but not at $6,000 an acre." In fact, he said, none of those offers were even close.
"I'm not surprised it didn't sell," said Keith Bedwell, who owns an adjoining farm. "There were just too many contingencies." Bedwell said, however, he was willing to pay $3,000 an acre for ground next to his property and keep it as farmland.
Despite its breathtaking scenery and its proximity to West Chester, the Como Farm would be a rough piece of ground to develop. In 1988, Ferguson & Flynn failed to win township approval for a 277-home development because the plan did not adequately address the environmental constraints of the tract.
The hills are so steep that hang gliders launch themselves from their peaks. There are flood plains and wetlands, and most of the tract falls within a state-protected watershed with severe land-use restrictions.
Couple those constraints with a number of sale conditions imposed by the bankruptcy court judge, and it's not surprising that the farm failed to sell, said Geyer.
"It is disappointing when land is not sold," he said, "but this was a court-ordered sale. It was kind of complex."