Former Charleston Naval Hospital to go on auction block
In its heyday, it was a bustling medical center that tended to the health care needs of tens of thousands of service members, military retirees and their families.
Now the shuttered North Charleston landmark, an aging, boxy symbol of the regionís naval defense prowess, is going on the block.
The federal agency that disposes of the governmentís excess real estate is looking to unload the former Charleston Naval Hospital next month through an online auction.
The bidding for the 24-acre property at 3800 Rivers Ave. opens at $100,000 and begins Sept. 13, according to a marketing brochure from the U.S. General Services Administration. Thatís almost two years to the day since the 10-story hospital was closed for good.
The administration said the bidding at one of its online real estate auctions generally remains open for several weeks. It did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment about the proposed hospital sale.
Only all-cash offers will be accepted, and a $50,000 registration deposit is required from all would-be buyers, according to the 18-page sales brochure.
The high bidder would get title to the 368,000-square-foot main building, the three-story former enlisted quarters, tennis and basketball courts, and parking for about 900 vehicles,
Whether the property will attract any serious buyout offers is an open question.
The former hospital in an blighted area that both private developers and North Charleston officials have struggled to revitalize. For example, the city bought the old Shipwatch Square shopping center across Rivers Avenue from the hospital for $2.5 million in 2010, but it hasnít yet been able to attract a full-service grocery store to the cleared site.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and a city spokesperson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
City Councilman Ron Brinson said he didnít know the federal government was trying to sell the hospital until Tuesday.
ďThis is a strategic part of the city, certainly where the mayor has had his focus,Ē Brinson said.
The hospital was the fifth that the Navy built over the course of more than seven decades to support the Charleston Naval Base and Shipyard. The first dated to 1898.
The existing building at Rivers and McMillan avenues was completed in 1973.
It had 175 beds and employed more than 1,200 health care workers before the Navy decided in the early 1990s to shutter the adjoining base and shipyard.
As patient numbers waned, the Pentagon gradually shut down portions of the hospital, which was reduced to a walk-in clinic when it was closed for good in September 2010.
At the same time, the Navy began offering medical services at a newly built center farther up the Cooper River on the Naval Weapons Station.
In the late 1990s, the Medical University of South Carolina had expressed interest in using the Navy hospital.
A spokeswoman could not be reached for comment Tuesday about whether MUSC would be interested in submitting a bid.
Reach John P. McDermott at 937-5572.