What must have seemed like such a good idea at the time—Longaberger basket company constructing a 7-story building in the shape of their flagship product—has made it very difficult for commercial real estate brokers trying to sell the building. It seems nobody wants to locate their offices in a giant basket.
The basket was built for about $32 million and finished in 1997, according to Guagenti, as a home for the Longaberger Company. Known for its kitschy baskets, both decorative and functional, Longaberger has been around since the 1970s and once boasted sales of $1 billion, largely the result of direct-sales agents who hawked baskets at Tupperware-esque parties. But its sales reportedly fell to $100 million in 2012. As Longaberger moved workers from the basket building to a nearby factory, its Dallas-based holding company, JRJR Networks, for which Rochon works, decided to sell to “consolidate and streamline our operations,” Chief Financial Officer Chris Brooks said in a June earnings statement.
Guagenti admitted it’s the most unusual property he’s tried to sell. “It’s a very challenging building,” he said. “We have had a couple [offers] but nothing that materialized.” Thus far, only developers have shown interest, though Guagenti declined to specify the number or size of the bids…
That has meant rethinking how the building could be used. To lure a buyer, Guagenti has explored marketing it as ripe for being repurposed as an educational facility, nursing home, or call center—though he also thinks it would do just fine remaining an office building. Experts agree it might fare best as a hotel or convention center, using the building’s aesthetic to attract tourists. Although the area has a population of only about 47,000, Rochon said tour groups do occasionally make pit stops at the basket.
In the meantime, here’s Ella:
Image courtesy Wikimedia