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    Former Sinclair Stations Repurposed by New Owners

    Auction winners will turn properties into a variety of different uses.

    SALT LAKE CITY -- Sinclair Oil Corp. will see five of its auctioned convenience stores repurposed into many different things by the new owners, including a parking lot for a funeral home, the Tribune reported.

    The five bids totaled $550,000 and are subject to confirmation by Sinclair, which owns the stations. Three of the stations are located in Great Falls, Mont., one in Helena, Mont. and one is located in Lewistown, Mont.

    An inactive station in Helena sold for $175,000 to Rich Leitgeb, who owns a Taco Treat restaurant next door. He told the paper that the property would be used to expand the current business or for parking. The station still has its underground storage tanks in place, and will have to have them removed. "The bidding went higher than I wanted, so I hope this is a good business decision for me," he told the Tribune.

    Tom Wojtowick made the winning $135,000 bid for a Lewiston station currently being leased to another business. Wojtowick made the bid on behalf of the Lewistown Library Board and the Creel Funeral Home. The two businesses will split the cost of the property, remove the canopy and use the property for parking, the newspaper reported.

    A former station being leased to B&R Check Holders in Helena sold to Dave Pierce for $115,000. Pierce told the paper that he paid "a fair price" for the 2,200-square feet of property. Pierce owns Pierce's Superstores and has plans to use the property as an "automotive related purpose" such as a car wash or quick lube shop.

    A vacant commercial building sold for $65,000 to auto dealer Dan Bleskin who made the bid for this father Pete and family. The Bleskins currently do not know what they will do with the property. Another vacant building sold for $60,000 to a bidder that did not wish to be named by the Tribune.

    The auction, held Tuesday at the Great Falls Hampton Inn, did not see any bids for the two other Sinclair properties in Great Falls, Mont. However, an interested party began discussions after the auction for the operating gas station which requires $77,000 in upgrades and must sell Sinclair branded fuels, according to an official at Higgenbotham Auctioneers.

    Real estate broker, Jim Voegele, told the newspaper that he was surprised at the low price that the stations sold for. He added that some potential bidders did not understand the "high bidder's choice" method that was used with the properties, and did not bid as a result. With the high bidder's choice, the winner chooses which of the five properties to buy at that price.

    Auctioneer Marty Higgenbotham tried to keep the bidding moving, commenting when bidding slowed at $65,000 that some pickups cost that much, reported the Tribune.

    This auction follows Sinclair's plan to exit from the retail business in Montana. The plan only affects company owned stores, not the number of independent stations in the state.

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