Sebring – Harder Hall, once a grand hotel that attracted some famous people, could become an assisted living type facility that may have an independent living component.
For the first time in more than a year, the city received a serious offer to buy the vacant deteriorating structure that catches the eyes of people entering the city on U.S. 27.
Sebring City Administrator Scott Noethlich said that Red Leaf Development LLC of Michigan has proposed to pay $2.5 million to buy the aging building owned by the city of Sebring and use it as an assistant living type facility. The firm offered a $25,000 deposit, he said.
Noethlich said the next step is for the proposal to go before the Sebring City Council. That may occur at the Nov. 4 meeting.
Council members would decide whether the city should accept the offer, he said.
City Councilman John Griffin said his initial reaction is that the city should consider the offer.
“That’s probably one of the better offers we have received,” Griffin said.
Griffin said, however, he believes the city has spent more than $3 million on the building. Ideally, he said, the city would want to recoup from the sale what the city has spent on the building.
At the same time, Griffin said, the city needs to do something with Harder Hall. The building has been vacant 25 to 30 years and the property doesn’t generate any taxes, he said.
While the city tries to sell the building, the structure deteriorates, Griffin said. The council may want to negotiate with the potential buyer over the selling price, he said.
A representative of the buyer could not be reached for comment.
Harder Hall was built in 1927 and named after developers Lewis F. Harder and Vincent Hall, both of West Palm Beach, according to Wikipedia. However, the hotel ran into problems when the Depression struck. In later years, it attracted guests such as Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw, according to Wikipedia.
It operated as a golf resort and remained open into the 1980s. But the owners at that time went bankrupt. The city bought the property in 2007.
The golf course is no longer connected with the property.
In 2012 and 2013 the city considered higher bids from MVP Properties of Davies and NRP1A. MVP, which initially offered $3.4 million, withdrew its bid after the city decided to seek closed bids.
NRP1A bid $4.2 million, but never put up a $100,000 required by the city. Ultimately in August 2013, the city withdrew its offer to sell the property to NRP1A because of that.
During the past couple of years, someone suggested that Harder Hall become an orphanage, but never made a firm offer to buy the building. A yoga organization and a man who was interested in using Harder Hall as his home, but neither potential buyer ever made a firm proposal.