The McClellan Development Authority is saying goodbye to the ugly barracks complex with the unforgettable name.
The MDA’s board of directors voted 10-0 Tuesday to sell the Starships, a cluster of old military dormitories, to security contractor Xtreme Concepts. Xtreme, which already leases the building, will likely pay around $1.2 million for the property.
“By having a landowner instead of a lessor, I think we’ll start seeing more corporate pride in the area,” said board member Bill Robison after the vote.
Robison and other MDA board members, all appointed by local governments, are charged with finding new uses of the land that once was Fort McClellan, the Army base that closed 20 years ago.
The Starships have often loomed large on board members’ minds. Eight concrete buildings on a 112-acre plot of land shaped vaguely like a hockey stick, they often seemed to have much potential but little use. Federal officials approved remodeling of some of the buildings to house storm victims in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but those plans fell through.
Then came Xtreme Concepts, a Birmingham-based company that trains private security forces. They agreed in 2015 to rent the buildings for $5,000 per month. The company built a fence around the property and has been using it since then.
Plain and gray buildings look like the setting of a 1970s science fiction dystopia –but “starships” appears to be the Army’s term for a generation of barracks structures, built to house an entire battalion under one roof.
MDA attorney Jason Odom said Xtreme’s lease included a purchase option. The agreement set a $2.8 million price for the buildings, with markdowns for rent already paid and improvements Xtreme might put into the property. Odom said the company had done $1.4 million of renovation; after rent is factored in, the price would drop to $1.2 million.
In recent months, the MDA has held more than one closed-door meeting to discuss the possible sale, sometimes with Ash and his associates coming in and out. The MDA is a public body, but state rules allow members to go into executive session to discuss land deals.
Odom on Tuesday said those earlier negotiations were over Ash’s desire to purchase additional, adjacent parcels along with the Starships. The MDA said no to that idea.
“Now we’re back to finalizing the original proposal,” Odom said. He said he knew of no other buyers interested in the adjacent land.
Attempts to reach Ash for comment after the late-afternoon meeting were not successful. Ash wasn’t at the meeting, and board members met for more than half an hour in executive session to discuss the deal.
The MDA plans to call a meeting for Feb. 25 to discuss details about the expected transfer of the Starships property.
The sale would give the MDA, which is funded only by land sales, a significant financial boost.
“I don’t know what we’ll do with the money, but it will help,” Robison said.
In other business, the board voted to spend $3,600 on fish to stock Yahou Lake. It’s not a natural lake — the Army built it in 1967 as a recreation spot for soldiers. Board members plan to open the lake for fishing sometime in 2020, after the fish have grown to catchable size.
Board members discussed, but didn’t vote on, rules for use of the lake. Under the current proposals, waterskiing would be banned, only oar-propelled boats would be allowed and a 12-month fishing license would cost $5.
The board also voted to spend $2,261 on repairs to Freemont Road near the Center for Domestic Preparedness. Board members said the road was damaged with the local water works moved a sewer line.