171128_AUCTION

The front of the former Pick n’ Save store on Janesville’s south side shows the outline of the sign that was removed after the store closed earlier this month. The building’s equipment will be auctioned off today. Separate from the auction, the property’s owner has put the 130,000-square-foot building up for sale.

Anthony Wahl

JANESVILLE

The former Pick ‘n Save on Janesville’s south side will look even less like a supermarket today after an auction purges the 130,000-square-foot building of all of its grocery store equipment.

An online flier by Badger Corp., a commercial and industrial auction and liquidation company in Lomira, lists hundreds of items for sale at the store, 1717 Center Ave.

Badger Corp. is auctioning off everything Pick ‘n Save parent company Kroger owns at the Janesville store, from outdoor cart corrals to walk-in freezers to a Henny Penny-brand rotisserie chicken oven.

The sale comes on the heels of the store’s shuttering in early November, a closing that Kroger subsidiary Roundy’s said lopped off a chronic underperformer from the company’s holdings.

The south-side store’s large red sign already has been peeled off the side of the building.

The equipment sell-off will clear the store’s floor and pave the way for Pick ‘n Save to vacate the property, which it leased from NDC Commercial Real Estate.

NDC is now working with Milwaukee broker NAI MLG Commercial to market the former store for sale, lease or redevelopment.

A Badger Corp. official told a Gazette photographer late last week the auction would be a major event. The Gazette was unable to reach Badger Corp. on Monday for more details on the sale.

Kevin Schmoldt, a broker with NAI MLG Commercial who is working to market the Pick ‘n Save site, said his company had nothing to do with the equipment auction.

Schmoldt said Kroger and Roundy’s are handling today’s sale because the items being sold are owned by grocery chain, not the building’s owner.

Schmoldt called the liquidation a “customary” process for many chain retail grocers when chains close and vacate stores. He said the chains often opt to sell store equipment because it generates revenue.

NAI MLG Commercial and the property’s owner had expected the auction, and Schmoldt said it won’t affect the building’s prospects—even if the property were reused as a grocery store.

“Even if it (equipment) was in place, they (a new owner) would likely gut it and start over. So it doesn’t change anything,” he said.

Schmoldt said it’s not clear yet what the future holds for the former Pick ‘n Save, but he said the building might not be used as a grocery store.

“I’d say at this point there’s been a fair amount of demand for the property, but the demand has been more so in the form of an industrial perspective rather than a retail perspective,” he said.

Pick ‘n Save’s closure has left a large portion of the city’s south side without nearby access to a full-service, fresh grocery store.

Janesville Economic Development Director Gale Price has said the city would like to see the property reused as a grocery retailer. He’s acknowledged that it’s likely a new grocer would operate at a significantly smaller scale than a 130,000-square-foot supermarket.

Schmoldt said the most viable prospects so far have been “light industrial” uses.

But Schmoldt pointed out that the former store is set back to the east on Center Avenue, and its large parking lot sits close to the street. He said that gives the property potential to be carved into multiple parcels.

He said that scenario could create at least one “outlot for retail” while offering possible “alternative uses” for the former Pick ‘n Save building.

An adaptive, industrial reuse of the building would require some city approval for zoning and use.

The Gazette could not reach Price on Monday for comment on the prospects of reuse and redevelopment of the property.

Bill Mears, a Janesville commercial real estate broker, said after Pick ‘n Save closed that he had heard of no emerging interest by chain grocers who were looking to tap the local retail grocery market.

Instead, Mears said he’s gotten anecdotal indications that some demand for groceries on the south side has been filled by other local supermarket chains—specifically Sentry on West Court Street.

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