The Belmont Casino Bar and Grill that closed in downtown Fort Atkinson this fall has a new owner following a public auction Tuesday by the Internal Revenue Service.

A restaurant group, Arbenbekim LLC, purchased the former bar for $153,000 in an auction that drew dozens of people looking at the property and two bidders.

After a half-hour of people looking around the dimly-lit former tavern, the auction began with the lowest bid to be accepted set at $125,000.

Registration for the sale on Tuesday began at 2 p.m. with the bidding taking place around 2:25 p.m. Scott Hamilton, property appraisal and liquidation specialist for the IRS, ran the auction, with bidding going back and forth quickly.

The title was sold free and clear. Arbenbekim LLC was required to put at least $25,000 down on the property Tuesday. It must pay the rest of the money by Jan. 18, 2020.

If Arbenbekim LLC cannot secure the rest of the money, the deposit will be forfeited and the property will be offered again for sale or sold to the second-highest bidder.

The Belmont Casino Bar and Grill went up for sale on Oct. 24, but there were no bidders for the $195,000 asking price.

Since a minimum bid is required to sell a property, the IRS had set a new date of Nov. 19 for another auction. There also was a significant price reduction.

Hamilton said they had to determine whether the original price point was too high and also had to run a notice in the Daily Union for four weeks.

Anyone offering to buy the property had to put at least 20 percent down.

The Belmont Bar and Grill at 29 Sherman Ave. had been a staple in downtown Fort Atkinson for decades. The building has a restaurant, drive-through window and a one-bedroom studio apartment on the second floor. The adjoining parking area was included in the sale.

Hamilton said last month that the property is a traditional foreclosure. The former owner, Richard Halverson, faced a lawsuit in Federal Court in August 2016 for unpaid taxes dating back to 1998. Halverson eventually filed taxes for the years 1998-2004 and 2006 to 2011. The filing also showed unpaid taxes due. The outstanding tax liability was approximately $199,000.

Hamilton said the property went through bankruptcy and did not sell.

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