By Kevin Kelley
The continuing saga of the two NASA buildings on Brookpark Road took has taken yet another turn with the news the federal government will auction the property later this year. The General Services Administration, a federal agency charged with managing government property, will conduct the auction.
The fate of the buildings, which are within the borders of Fairview Park, is of great financial importance to the city. In 2011, NASA contractors who work in one of the buildings paid $400,000 in income tax to Fairview Park. City officials have said the loss of that income would be a blow to the city’s finances.
In recent months, city officials had been trying to arrange a sale of the property to Hemingway Development, a division of Geis Cos., which has plans to redevelop the site. Fairview Park also sought to obtain the property for $1 and transfer it to Geis for redevelopment.
Fairview Park Development Director Jim Kennedy had said the GSA was looking to sell the land for $2.5 million. But Kennedy said no one would be willing to pay $2.5 million given that, according to the GSA, up to $7 million for environmental remediation work and the demolition of a smaller building will be required to fully develop the site. City officials unsuccessfully lobbied Ohio’s congressional delegation for money for remediation work on the buildings.
Richard Balsano, a realty specialist with the GSA, confirmed his agency was in discussions with Fairview Park over the property but declined to comment any further.
Balsano estimates the auction of the property will take place in the late spring or early summer.
“It’s certainly not imminent,” Balsano said of the auction.
The two buildings, as well as the land, will be auctioned “as is,” said Balsano, who is based in Chicago.
Balsano said the GSA has not yet determined if the auction will have a reserve, or minimum, bid for any sale to be made. He said the GSA conducted an appraisal of the property, but that the agency’s policy prohibits divulging that information.
The auction will be conducted online. Balsano said he expects his agency will aggressively market the property given its size and location. The GSA usually advertises its properties in newspapers and trade publications, he said.
Fairview Park has been lobbying numerous government officials to keep that property economically viable since early 2006, when NASA first announced plans to vacate the buildings, known as Buildings 500 and 501.
In early 2007, a proposed master plan for the NASA Glenn Research Center had the property housing an Aerospace Education Center and a relocated visitor center as well as new buildings for space contractors. But the Glenn visitors center ultimately moved to the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland.
NASA employees stayed in the buildings a few years longer than originally planned, but eventually only contractors remained. In May 2010, NASA transferred control of the property to the GSA.