Sale of former Hinsdale track land OKd

A bankruptcy judge Tuesday gave his final stamp of approval to the long-pending sale of a portion of the former Hinsdale Greyhound Park to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for $2.13 million, paving the way for the retailer to build a Walmart superstore on the site.

The order confirms a compromise agreement forged after a controversy over the legitimacy of a pre-bankruptcy transfer of assets that had prevented going forward with the Wal-Mart deal, which dates back to the end of 2006.

The deal consists of about 25 acres of the 106 acres that was formerly owned by the Hinsdale Greyhound Racing Association, which declared bankruptcy on Dec. 15, 2008.

The association sold off assets — including the land — 14 months before the bankruptcy filing, to Hinsdale Real Estate Development LLC, which is made up of many of the same owners of the track.

The bankruptcy trustee questioned whether the racetrack got a fair value for the sale of that land and will continue to claim interest in the proceeds of any subsequent sale, including the sale to Wal-Mart.

The track countered that the sale was in good faith, that it had no choice to sell off the land, since it desperately needed working capital and was under threat of foreclosure.

However, both sides agree that a sale to Wal-Mart is fair.

An appraisal valued the entire property at $2.2 million, and it would presumably be worth more with a Wal-Mart on it. Thus the increased value of the remaining land would increase the value of the remaining land which, if sold, might also be used to pay off creditors, if the trustee convinces the bankruptcy judge that all or some of any proceeds be included in the bankruptcy estate.

In the end, the bankruptcy trustee agreed with the sale as long as $500,000 of proceeds at closing be put in escrow. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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