St. Anthony's Seminary | Credit: Courtesy

Whoever plumped down $16.7 million for what was once St. Anthony’s Seminary in Santa Barbara is a mystery, as the Realtors and auction house involved could not disclose the identity of Bidder #014634, who won the historic building and 11-acre property on June 26.

Any excitement generated by the proceedings was mute, as the gaveling for onlookers came via the website of Concierge Auctions. Nevertheless, the auctioneer observed the formalities, typing, “Going once. Going twice. The gavel is raised,” as the minutes ticked by, well past the 7 p.m. (New York time) closing hour for the auction.

The opening bid when the auction opened on June 12 must have been a disappointment to the owners, the San Roque School Charitable Trust, who set the auction as “no reserve,” or that St. Anthony’s would be sold regardless of the price. They had hoped for a $25 million opening bid for a property assessed at $30 million. The first bidder — #799306 — lowballed the property, offering $5 million to start things off. The bidding inched up to $14 million by bidder #296793 at close of day, where it sat silent until Wednesday.

Bidding started getting active in the six o’clock hour that day. Bid increments dropped from $1 million to $500,000 to $100,000 to $50,000, as bidders #296793 and #014634 raised their offers and requested time extensions. A leap of $150,000 had the auctioneer commenting “Power bids work,” and a second leap from $16.55m to $16.7 million at 7:35 p.m. gained #014634 the win.

The final price paid by the winner is around $18.7 million with the fees and costs involved in the sale, said Mike Sherry, a VP with BerlinRosen, which handles publicity for Concierge Auctions. The final closing would take place in the next month.

Speculation is rife over the potential uses for 11 rolling acres and a building set on a hill overlooking the City of Santa Barbara. The property is zoned RS-15, which allows single-family residences on lots no smaller than 15,000 square feet, explained senior city planner Megan Arciniega, although it carries a legal nonconforming use as an educational facility, which currently earns the land a property tax–free status.

Any changes to the zoning, however, would require assent from city planning and the council for an amendment to the city’s General Plan, all of which would be heard along with public comment.

Premier Events

Get News in Your Inbox


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.