The Bill Clayton Detention Center was supposed to pump millions of dollars into the city of Littlefield. Instead, the facility financially drained the town. Thursday, after a highly anticipated auction, the jail received a new owner.
The jail has been vacant for the past two years. Thursday's auction required an opening bid of $5 million. However, when all was said and done, the city managed to auction the facility off for $6 million to a private bidder over the internet.
Shirley Mann, the Mayor of Littlefield, says that was welcome news.
"It's such a relief, such a weight off our shoulders," Mann said.
The jail was built through an $11 million bond back in 1999. The debt from the facility had forced the city to make some tough choices.
"We laid off a few people, and people didn't get raises last year," Mann said.
The sale of $6 million doesn't completely rid the city of debt, but it certainly gets them closer.
Jef Conn, the Realtor who handled the sale for Coldwell Banker Commercial, says the sale is a win-win situation for all parties involved.
"The people who bought this, got it for basically half of what it's appraised for, so they're going to make a lot of money, bring a lot of jobs and give a lot of jobs to the city of Littlefield," Conn said.
Conn says the private bidder wants to remain anonymous for now, but has plans to maintain the jail and employ 75 to 100 people. Mann says she now has one less worry on the city's agenda.
"Littlefield has never had a lot of money and we probably never will - but we will always do just fine. We'll do just fine," Mann said.
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