AUBURN — Dean Kruse said Tuesday he is moving forward to find a buyer for his massive museum building south of Auburn.
“I have seven prospects, and I’m talking to one right now,” Kruse said by telephone from his office. “I’m hoping that something will happen in the next month.”
Last week, the Auburn Board of Zoning Appeals voted 4-0 to deny a zoning change that would have allowed the building to be used for light manufacturing and warehousing. Board members approved a finding that the building “has been operated as a museum for many years and could continue as a museum under different ownership.”
Zoning board members said they were swayed by four affected parties who objected strongly to using the building for manufacturing.
EMR Realty LLC of Canada was proposing to buy the building from the Dean V. Kruse Foundation for an undisclosed price. The company’s plans included manufacturing a low-production “super car” on the site.
In a meeting Tuesday morning with EMR representatives, “They told me they’re done” in pursuing the building, Kruse said. He added that he is not convinced that is the case.
EMR does not hold any mortgage rights to the building, Kruse said. Statements the company’s attorney made to the Board of Zoning Appeals hinted that EMR might hold a lien on the building.
Of the other potential buyers, Kruse said, “All of them know they won’t let manufacturing in here.” He added, “There’s a lot of things you could do in here.”
He continued, “I hope somebody buys it, keeps the museum open and uses the museum for events.”
With proper marketing of the building for events, “I think they could have hundreds of things going on in here and make half a million a year,” Kruse added.
Last week, the museum was the site of the annual Senior Bash sponsored by the DeKalb County Council on Aging, which drew 400 guests. Next weekend, it will be the site of the annual Monster Truck Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Reunion.
The museum building at 5634 C.R. 11-A is approximately 1,000 feet long and 200 feet wide, enclosing 200,000 square feet. It features a large, high-ceiling atrium in the center that has housed many community events over the building’s 15-year history.
Spacious wings on either side of the building contain museum exhibits of World War II vehicles and special-interest vehicles such as race cars, monster trucks and exotic creations built for movies and television shows by customizer Carl Casper.
Last week, EMR’s attorney, Andrew Krafchek told zoning board members the museum would cease operation within a month. He said, “They simply don’t have funds to keep it open.”
Tuesday, Kruse said he would continue operating the museum “as long as I have to.”
He added, “I’m out of money, but all I have to do is sell something.” On more than one occasion in the past, Kruse has sold World War II vehicles from the museum’s collection to meet the museum’s financial obligations.