SUGAR GROVE, W.Va. — The U.S. General Services Administration announced Tuesday that it’s going to re-offer the former Sugar Grove Naval Base in Pendleton County at a public auction later this year after the winning bidder in a online auction could not complete the transaction.
GSA also announced the second attempt at selling the sprawling property will be done through a more traditional bid opening process. Bids will be submitted by mail, the bidders revealed and the bids read aloud on the bid opening day.
GSA has never revealed who was behind the initial online winning bid.
Delegate Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) said starting all over may be a blessing in disguise.
“The winner bidder was unable to operate the facility—it’s better off to go ahead and cut your loss today rather than get involved in it, sit there on it for two or three years and then go belly-up,” Sponaugle said.
Sugar Grove was built in the 1950’s and was a U.S. Navy installation until September 2015. It 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.
Sponaugle wants an economic development project.
“It would be my hope that it will be something that brings jobs to the area rather than just housing,” he said. “Pendleton County has plenty of housing. (We need) employment opportunities.”
Those who have expressed interest in the property in recent months include health care operations and wounded warrior groups. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin turned down an offer to receive the facility at no cost. His administration considered converting the land into a women’s prison but found it cost prohibitive.
The eventual winning bidder will have to have some cash, Sponaugle predicted.
“The biggest issue that you’ll going to have with any private group that goes over there is that you’re going to have to have some cash flow for the 122 acres,” he said.
The GSA has been maintaining the property while it awaits a new owner.
The GSA said Tuesday it would conduct an open house in mid-October and a bid opening date in early November.