Next week will be a year since operations ceased at Sugar Grove Naval Base, leaving civilian workers scrambling to find new employment in its absence.
If you need a recap on this continuing saga, WV MetroNews has got you covered. No, really – covered like a blanket. You can find the articles, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, *deep breath* here, here, here and here. If you’ve read all of that, then you’re well up-to-date.
Now that we’ve moved a year beyond the economically devastating closure, it’s time to look at where we are now, and where we think we are going.
At last we left the situation, the high bidder for the base bowed out, citing an inability to “complete the transaction.”
In the clandestine tradition of the navy base, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which was charged with unloading the base, has not given a reason for the bidder backing out, or who the bidder even was.
So who was it? Nothing has even been confirmed officially, but this is where the leads have taken us.
Was it KVC?
No. Though even Governor Tomblin’s office doesn’t know who the high bidder was, they could confirm is that it wasn’t KVC, the nonprofit child welfare and behavioral healthcare organization. They had been interested in converting the base to a college for kids aging out of the foster care system; however, their bid wasn’t half of the $11.2 million high bid.
New York, New York
The most likely candidate is a 5th Avenue company out of the Big Apple. Empire State Bankruptcy Management Corp., a 40-year-old company that specializes in “Management and Acquisition Construction Development of Commercial, residential and retail properties nationwide.” While that name didn’t come up specifically, associates of the company’s CEO, Patrick McEvoy, made inquires about the property to the courthouse in late August. Perhaps it was McEvoy himself who was the high bidder.
We contacted the company for comment the day before the announcement about the sell falling through. To date we have not gotten a response.
It may have been a bullet dodged if it turned out this company. One thing they make clear on their website, is that they focus “on HUD revitalization projects.” It’s the only text in bold on their homepage other than the company name.
This tells us that the base would likely not have produced many jobs in this scenario.
It could have been that once they took a good look around, and realized that there was a Habitat for Humanity development directly across the street, that they decided no further low-cost housing was needed for the area.
Hopefully we’ll know something by the end of the year. The new round of bidding begins again in November, and shouldn’t drag on for as long as the online auction.
Hopefully we’re not writing a two-year article similar to this.