The palatial former headquarters of Adelphia Communications in Coudersport, Pa., a symbol of the Rigas family's fallen cable TV empire, is again up for auction.
The property is being sold through a sealed bid process with a suggested starting price of $1.5 million, far below its reported $24 million construction cost. Bids are due to the firm running the auction, Sheldon Good & Co., on Oct. 6.
The planned auction revives memories of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the Rigases were akin to royalty in Coudersport and were leading business figures in Buffalo. Adelphia founder John Rigas owned the Buffalo Sabres, and the company was planning to build an office tower across from the Sabres' arena, a project that never materialized.
After Adelphia unraveled, John Rigas and his son Timothy were convicted for their roles in a financial scandal involving self-dealing that led to the company's demise. Both men are serving prison sentences. Meanwhile, Adelphia's corporate operations were moved to Colorado years ago, and the company's services were sold off.
Paul Heimel, vice chairman of the Potter County Board of Commissioners, said local residents are hopeful the auction will lead to better days for the property.
"We hope that whoever occupies the building will be a private-sector employer," said Heimel, who previously worked for Adelphia.
The Coudersport area has recovered to a great extent, but not fully, from the high unemployment generated by Adelphia's fall, he said.
Meanwhile, the opulent building remains a dominant presence, with its polished granite exterior, custom woodwork and bronzed windows. The property also features large executive suites, a rooftop terrace and an on-site garden.
The office complex's ties to Adelphia were severed a few years ago, but the property still serves as a reminder of what was once the nation's fifth-largest cable TV company. The 80,900-square-foot complex has struggled to find a purpose in its post-Adelphia years.
An auction was held in 2007, but the high bidder failed to close the deal. Another auction was held in 2008, when Illinois-based Klek Development Corp. prevailed with a bid of $3.5 million.
But Klek failed to secure tenants or find another buyer for the property. Earlier this year, American Metro Bank foreclosed and acquired it through a sheriff's sale, and is now trying to unload it at auction. A bank official did not return a call to comment.
The auction will attempt to interest bidders in acquiring a property in a mountain town of 2,650, outside of a central business hub and about 2 1/2 hours from Buffalo.
The auction firm highlights the property's location in the "tranquil Pennsylvania countryside," in the "heart of the Marcellus Shale natural gas field," playing off the recent spike in activity generated by hydraulic fracturing.
"This auction is a rare opportunity for an owner/user seeking to acquire a flagship corporate headquarters or for an investor who wants to own a versatile, easily reconfigured building for multiple tenants at a fraction of its value," said John Cuticelli, chief executive officer of Sheldon Good & Co., in a statement.
Heimel said the headquarters reflected the Rigas family's determination to keep a major corporation rooted in Coudersport, with the belief that having the company there was not only good for the town, but the rural setting was good for the executives.