$325,000 bid for former federal courthouse in SE Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — A former federal building in the southeast Missouri town of Cape Girardeau has drawn a high bid of $325,000, far below what federal officials hoped to get when bidding began.

The General Services Administration has not identified who made the $325,000 bid, KFVS-TV (http://bit.ly/xBwf0W) reported.

A spokeswoman said that if the bid is accepted, closing will be 30 days after the acceptance date.

GSA originally put the building up for auction in May with a suggested opening bid of $750,000. But GSA spokeswoman Angela Brees said there was no suggested bid listing with the most recent auction.

"We understand that it's a tough market right now," Brees said. "With the last tenant moving out in May 2011, the building served the government well for more than 40 years. We, of course, want the highest sale price possible, but ensuring the building is available for reuse or redevelopment is a high priority as well."

The new Rush H. Limbaugh Sr. Federal Courthouse opened in June 2009 and now houses most of the federal offices that were in the old federal building. The new courthouse is named for a longtime Cape Girardeau attorney who was the grandfather of radio host Rush Limbaugh.

St. Louis minister Larry Rice has failed in three attempts to acquire the building. He wanted to turn it into a homeless shelter, but many in the community opposed that move.

Opponents have said that local agencies already work well together to serve the homeless population in Cape Girardeau, and that the building is much larger than the needs of the homeless in the region.

Rice cited a Missouri Housing Development Commission survey showing 48 unsheltered homeless people living in the county in 2008. Using a broader definition, he said there may be as many as 2,200 homeless people near Cape Girardeau.

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