Government auction includes old missile site, land with ocean views

Federal portfolio also features 17 acres in Silicon Valley

Clockwise from top left: USGS Menlo Park campus, NIKE Site in Gaithersburg, Maryland and Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Pacific Grove, California (Google Maps, iStock)
Clockwise from top left: USGS Menlo Park campus, NIKE Site in Gaithersburg, Maryland and Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Pacific Grove, California (Google Maps, iStock)

Wanna buy a missile site?

The former Cold War facility, dormant since 1974, is among a dozen U.S. properties that the federal government hopes to auction off for a combined $500 million to $750 million.

Others include a Monterey County parcel with ocean views and 17 acres in Silicon Valley.

The properties, many of them vacant, could go up for sale to developers early this year, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The unloading of the sites was recommended by the Public Buildings Reform Board, which stemmed from the Obama administration’s Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act of 2016.

Historically, government agencies had little incentive to sell their real estate and the process moved at a glacial pace. The 2016 law was designed to help speed it up.

One way it does this is by putting the sale proceeds into an account administered by the General Services Administration. The money can eventually be used to fund preparation of future sales.

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The board in late 2019 recommended selling the 12 properties individually. However, given the pandemic, the board now seeks to auction them as a single portfolio. The board said it will still look at offers for individual assets.

The federal government’s real estate portfolio includes perhaps 3,800 unused buildings, according to 2018 GSA data. In total, the government owns 885 million square feet of real estate in the U.S.

Here are some of the 12 properties:

A 14-acre NIKE Site in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Built during the height of the Cold War in 1954, the site was home to the NIKE Ajax and Hercules missiles (not affiliated with the Nike athletic brand). The launch site contains three missile silos along with some barracks, according to Maryland’s Department of the Environment. The Department of Commerce site has been unused for 46 years.

Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Pacific Grove, California. The 4.2-acre site sits next to Monterey, California, on the Pacific Grove Municipal Golf Course and offers views of the ocean. It is surrounded by high-end apartment and hotel properties, according to the Public Buildings Reforms Board in 2019. The Department of Commerce site was vacated by the NOAA Environmental Research Division six years ago.

Job Corps Center in Edison, New Jersey. The 27‐acre campus Edison Job Corps Center contains 31 buildings and 20 structures to accommodate residential and commuter students. What’s being sold is about five acres no longer being used. The property sits near Rutgers University and within 40 miles of Midtown Manhattan.

USGS Menlo Park campus. The United States Geological Survey has a 17-acre, 17-building campus in the heart of Silicon Valley, where housing is so tight that simple ranch homes fetch seven figures. The USGS is relocating from this campus to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Ames facility at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California. This move is underway and expected to be completed in 2023.