Dessau Realty auctioning off its holdings

A nearly 100-year-old Macon real estate company that closed its doors earlier this year will put its holdings on the auction block today and Saturday.

Dessau Realty is selling its downtown office building, an 8,000-square-foot warehouse and a handful of land lots. The first sale starts at 10 a.m. today at the company’s 555 First St. office next to City Hall. Most of the real estate — 22 commercial and residential lots, some owned by Dessau, some owned by others — will be sold Saturday starting at 10 a.m., at 2711 Waterville Road.

In addition to the property, also up for auction are office furniture and supplies, computers, two flatbed trucks, hardware, appliances, tools and other items.

For almost a century — Washington Dessau opened the business in 1912 — the realty company has managed property across Bibb County, catering to mid- to low-income tenants. The condition of their housing stock at times led some to label the company a slum lord, although that’s an accusation that owners reject.

Dessau was managing about 3,300 units by the end of the 1960s. But that number shrunk to just 450-550 units this year, said Dessau’s grandson, Bill Ashmore, who now runs the business. Vandalism, maintenance costs and competition for tenants with the Macon Housing Authority consumed the company’s revenues, he said, and the company’s financial problems were exacerbated when the economy tanked.

Ashmore said he hopes to raise enough money from the auction to repay some of the company’s creditors, particularly the smaller ones.

“I’m just trying to do everything I can to not go bankrupt,” he said.

To contact writer Matt Barnwell, call 744-4251.