FRANKLIN, W.Va. — There is interest in the soon to be abandoned Sugar Grove Naval Station in Pendleton County. The General Services Administration on Thursday will give guided tours of the property as the Navy prepares to decommission the longstanding defense installation for prospective buyers. Unlike an earlier open house, Thursday’s tours are by appointment only.
“I spoke with the GSA and I think they were up to 30 some prospects,” said Pendleton County Commission President Gene McConnell.
McConnell said he’s also had a number of inquiries from possible business operators around the country who are interested in the facility.
“I’ve gotten several calls from people who may be interested, but one of the questions was what would the property tax liability be there which is certainly a legitimate question,” he said. “The property taxes would certainly be within our (county commission) purview and if somebody was coming in there and offering a positive outcome for Pendleton County we would certainly look at tax incentives.”
The facility includes 122 acres of remote forest and open land. The facility is in many ways a self contained small town with residential space for up to 80 families, office space, dormitory style housing, eating facilities, recreational facilities, and even a fire and police station among other amenities.
“It seems to me like a perfect place for the V-A to establish convalescent facility for returning veterans,” said McConnell. “We have veterans returning with PTSD and so forth and my goodness this would be such a serene environment to bring them into.”
Healthcare seems to be a big attraction. McConnell said many of the calls he has received about the property have been from those considering the location as a possible site for a retirement community or assisted living center.
“As long as they’re bringing jobs into the area it would be a positive outcome for the county,” said McConnell.
So far bids and offers have been slow to come, but McConnell isn’t discouraged. He thinks the interest is there and those who have registered for guided tours on Thursday proves itt. The site has been open for bids on the GSA’s website since the decommission plans were announced.
“Interest really seems to liven up and bidders really start being active once the GSA says,’We’re going to close it in 72 hours’ or whatever,” McConnell said. “People are sitting out there watching it, but they really aren’t going to be placing bids until we get down to the final moments.”
Those final moments are yet to come. The GSA has not announced the date the Naval presence there will cease.