Hardwick Field auction brings far less than expected

Hardwick Field auction brings far less than expected

June 6th, 2014 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Allan Jones, owner of payday loan enterprise Check Into Cash, walks through the gathered crowd at the Hardwick Field maintenance hangar during an auction of the old Cleveland, Tenn., airport property. Jones bought most of the former airfield property.

Allan Jones, owner of payday loan enterprise Check...

Photo by Paul Leach /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The auction of 62.54 acres of property formerly known as Hardwick Field fell nearly $750,000 short of the land's appraised value of $1.785 million, with Check Into Cash CEO Allan Jones purchasing most of the old airfield.

Jones took the lion's share of the property -- a 57.34-acre parcel that includes the facility's runway and a large maintenance hangar -- for half its appraised value of $1.498 million.

"I plan to use it for my muscle car collection," said Jones, noting that the old airfield property adjoins the property of his residence on a nearby ridge.

When the opening bid of $1.498 million for the tract failed to get a response, auctioneer Lynn Dempsey of Dempsey Auction of Rome, Ga., lowered the price to $750,000.

Jones made the sole offer on the parcel.

"I just have to let the market speak for itself," said Dempsey, who conducted the auction on behalf of the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority.

Jones' interest in the Hardwick property has long been speculated and was publicly addressed in a May 30 meeting of the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority by Lynn DeVault, president of Jones Management Services, LLC, who serves on the airport panel.

"We'll bring a checkbook," she said during a discussion about what forms of payment would be accepted for making down payments on winning bids on the day of the auction.

Jones also bought another 1.61-acre parcel, while three other buyers -- Joe Stamper, Charles Jabaley and Robbie Garrison -- purchased the remaining four parcels that amounted to 4.59 acres combined.

City officials expressed displeasure with the auction's results, which brought in just over $1 million among the six parcels that were sold.

"I'm disappointed in what we received for the property," City Manager Janice Casteel said.

The proceeds from the auction are earmarked for reimbursing the city for its $6 million investment in the new Cleveland Regional Jetport, she said.

The $6 million was in local matching funds for government grants received in conjunction with the jetport's construction, she said.

The sale of the former Hardwick Field property is subject to the approval of the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority, state aviation officials and the Federal Aviation Administration, said Verill Norwood, vice chairman of the airport authority.

Closing date on the property sales will be 30 days after approval for the sales are given, Norwood said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.