PITTSFIELD -- With a deal to sell the three former Pittsfield-area Burger King restaurants having all but fallen through, the bank that holds the mortgage on the properties is moving forward with plans to sell them at auction on Wednesday.
After TD Bank originally scheduled the auction for Nov. 28, property owner Richard C. George reached an agreement to sell the three eateries to a single buyer. His attorney, Emil George, of Pittsfield, said Richard George hoped the sale would close before the auction took place.
But on Monday, Emil George said the proposed sale had fallen through, although "there's still a possibility" it could close before Wednesday because negotiations are still taking place.
That slim possibility wasn't enough to change the bank's position on Monday.
"I don't see any prospect of it getting postponed at this point," said Attorney Peter L. Puciloski, of Great Barrington, who represents TD Bank. "It's up to the bank, and the bank hasn't seen any evidence.
"I've been waiting at auctions when the auctioneer gets a call and says it's off," he said. "But it looks pretty unlikely to me."
Richard George holds a single mortgage for all three properties, but the eateries are scheduled to be auctioned separately, beginning with the restaurant on Merrill Road at 11 a.m. The restaurant on First Street will be auctioned off at 12:30 p.m., followed by the eatery on Pittsfield Road in Lenox at 2 p.m.
The properties are being offered by Tranzon Auction Properties, a Maine-based nationwide auction agency that maintains a state office in Arlington. Auction signs were placed at each restaurant, although the sign in Lenox had recently been removed. Emil George believes someone took the Lenox auction sign from the property, and said its removal had nothing to do with the scheduling of the auction.
The foreclosure auction is part of the legal foreclosure proceedings that TD Bank initiated against Richard George in September. The three restaurants had closed abruptly in June.
Puciloski said TD Bank tried to work with Richard George to keep the eateries open, but the Burger King Corporation took them away after he fell too far behind on his franchise payments.
"The problem arose when he was in arrears and fell so far behind on franchise fees to Burger King that they filed an injunction to get the money that he owed them," Puciloski said.
According to Emil George, Richard George has had several opportunities to sell the properties since they closed, but this latest attempt was the only time a single buyer had been interested in all three.
Richard George originally owed TD Bank $2.5 million on the note for the three former restaurants, when papers were initially filed in Berkshire Superior Court. Interest fees, legal fees and auction fees have caused that price to increase.
Richard George has been associated with Burger King for more than 30 years. He opened Berkshire County's first Burger King restaurant on Merrill Road in July 1979, and the second on First Street in December 1984. He opened the Lenox restaurant in February 1987.