Last month, Williams & Williams Worldwide Real Estate Auction thought they had sold the Bill Clayton Detention Center for $6 million to an anonymous online buyer. You can watch the auction, where prisoners are referred to as “product,” here.
Now, the City of Littlefield has announced that the buyer has backed out the deal. According to a story yesterday at KCDB.com ("Littlefield Detention Center bid falls through," September 16, 2011):
"The private buyer made the offer via telephone during the July auction. Thirty days after the bid, the contract on the property was supposed to close. However, the City received word that the deal had fallen through.
'It didn't happen and the reason it didn't happen was because the person who put in the highest bid basically backed out on their bid and kind of put us in a tailspin,' City Manager Danny Davis said.
After years of mismanagement and broken contracts, the $11 million dollar detention center sat vacant. The city was left to foot the bill, still owing more than $9 million on the property. The city was certain the bid of $6 million would help close the gap on their debt. The news of the bidder's change of heart is frustrating for Davis."
The Littlefield debacle should be a warning to other communities that relying on the private prison industry isn't the economic savior that prison developers often promise.