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Going once...going twice...sold?

Unable to find a buyer for a Cottage Grove building that formerly housed a Home Depot, the giant home improvement retailer has elected to list the empty retail space on a public auction Web site.

The space, part of a larger retail complex off of East Point Douglas Road, has been vacant since Home Depot abandoned the location last year. It is part of an auction beginning Dec. 7 that includes 39 other commercial properties around the country, including 10 vacant Home Depots.

Starting bid on the piece of Cottage Grove commercial real estate? $2.13 million -- far less than the property's listed price of $5 million.

"I don't know what the market value is. I don't think there's a broker that would say they know the market value," said Linda Zelm, Vice President of Coldwell Banker Commercial Griffin Companies who has been marketing the former Home Depot property.

"We have no comparables to place it against, we have no market action to compare it against," she continued. "The market has fallen so far, so fast, with a total stagnation of action, that I can't tell you what it costs."

The auction closes Dec. 9. The winning bidder -- if there are any bidders, at all -- would have to close on the purchase of the property within 30 days.

Officials from the city have not played a direct role in marketing the vacant building, but have attempted to drum up interest in the site.

Howard Blin, Cottage Grove Director of Community Development, said Monday the city will wait and see what happens. Then, "We'll obviously work with whoever buys it," he said.

Zelm said Tuesday that Home Depot desires a quick sale -- even at a cost far below the offered price and the valuation at which the property is taxed.