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State to auction off 30 expired liquor licenses

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The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is planning to auction off a new batch of expired restaurant liquor licenses, its fifth auction in a process that began in 2016.

The board today said it will award 30 expired licenses in 30 counties, including three in Central Pennsylvania. There is one license each in Dauphin, Lebanon and York counties.

To date, the PLCB has awarded 165 licenses in auctions, which were authorized under the Act 39 liquor reform law in 2016.

In heavily populated or fast-growing areas, licenses have fetched as much as $556,000. In smaller, more rural counties, some licenses have sold near the minimum bid price of $25,000. And some available licenses have failed to attract any bids.

Supermarket and convenience-store chains have bought up the majority of licenses put up for bid. Cumberland County grocery chain Giant Food Stores LLC and Altoona-based convenience-store chain Sheetz Inc. have topped the list, accounting for 40 percent of the winning bids.

Giant has outspent all bidders, shelling out more than $8.1 million on its 30 winning bids so far, or an average of $270,057 per license. Giant is the only winning bidder to exceed $500,000 for a license. The chain bid more than $500,000 on four licenses in the first auction.

Grocery chain Weis Markets Inc. also has been an active bidder, alongside convenience-store chains Turkey Hill and Rutter's Farm Stores, which bids as CHR Corp.

Bids for the current auction are due by noon on April 19. Bids will be opened April 27 and winners will be determined soon after.

The highest bidder wins the right to submit an application for the license to the PLCB within six months of auction award.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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