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Old Hertel papers, abandoned, are now up for auction in San Luis Obispo

Public auctions usually feature toys, clothing, jewelry, furniture, perhaps a family’s old treasures.

But documents, maps and blueprints belonging to a bankrupt developer? That’s what you’ll find if you check out a public auction today at the San Luis Mini Storage on Prado Road. The documents belong to R.W. Hertel, one of the county’s most prolific developers until 2008, when “the wheels came off the economy and banks stopped funding,’’ as former partner Robert Fowler put it last summer.

Hertel, which built numerous subdivisions in San Luis Obispo and the North County, was forced into bankruptcy last year by creditors.

The business records were trucked over to the storage unit for safekeeping after Hertel moved out of its San Luis Obispo headquarters a few years ago. The company’s partnership broke apart about two years ago after the $100 million company had gone so broke that its partners were paying the bills out of their personal coffers, according to statements that Fowler made to the Bankruptcy Court.

No one has been paying the bills to store the documents for months, so the mini-storage unit manager scheduled the auction in hopes that someone will buy the files — allowing him to clear the space for a paying tenant.

Fowler said Friday he was aware of the sale. U.S. Bankruptcy Court representatives already searched through the documents, so he said he doesn’t care what happens to the remaining records.

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