Navy takes bids online for old Puerto Rico base

Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — An online auction began Monday for more than 2,000 acres of land overlooking the Caribbean that was once part of the bustling Naval Station Roosevelt Roads.

The auction, which is expected to last at least three days, is the latest attempt to finally resolve the fate of a base that closed in 2004, shortly after the military stopped using the nearby island of Vieques as a bombing range.

The minimum bid was $10 million for one parcel of nearly 500 acres. The minimum is $30 million for another parcel of more than 1,500 acres. The two areas, which make up what was the residential area of a base, are zoned for residential and commercial development.

Puerto Rico's government has acquired more than 6,500 acres of former Navy property around the two parcels being sold and has a long-term development plan that includes a cruise ship port, hotels and a casino. The Navy attempted to sell the two residential parcels in an online auction in 2008 but canceled the effort because it did not receive qualified bids.

Roosevelt Roads was commissioned as a Navy base in 1943 and in later years was the military's regional headquarters. The U.S. decided it no longer needed the base after it halted test bombing of Vieques following years of protests. The island of Vieques has since become a popular tourist destination, but the towns on the Puerto Rican mainland near the former base were economically devastated by the closure.

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