Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower For Sale

The company that planned to turn the dilapidated Frying Pan Shoals light tower into a home for a dive charter business has failed to complete the deal.

“We don’t know the condition of the tower,” he said.

Spence was the high bidder in early March for the tower, offering the federal government $515,000. He needed to hand over 10 percent, or roughly $50,000, within 10 days of the auction closing. But Spence said that was too much money to spend without first stepping foot on the tower.

The company had planned to use the prime fishing spot for a sport fishing group and a dive charter business, as well as possible fisheries and oceanographic research with two or three universities.

But purchasing the tower sight unseen was a condition of the sale, said Louis Mancuso, specialist for the U.S. General Services Administration.

“We had made that very clear,” he said, noting the tower, which includes 5,000 square feet of living space and a helipad, has limited access because it is unsafe.

After being out of commission for six or seven years, rendered useless by technology, the light tower was handed over by the U.S. Coast Guard to the GSA, which put it up for auction in October.

Mancuso said the GSA has sent the second-highest bidder a letter offering the sale of the tower. He would not identify the bidder, but the bid history shows that someone dubbed “big gun” came in second with a bid of almost $504,000. The second-place bidder has a week to decide whether to buy the tower. If not, it will be re-bid, Mancuso said.

Spence, who will not get back his $5,000 registration fee for bidding on the tower, said he wants a new auction. He also said he thought there were irregularities with the initial bidding process.

Mancuso would not comment on the auction process.

But he did say the minimum bid for the tower a second time around would be “significantly higher.” He said officials could not predict the tower’s worth before the initial auction.

The GSA has no restrictions against Spence bidding for the tower again.

And he has much interest in going for it, he said.

To make any changes to the structure, the purchaser would have to obtain an Army Corps of Engineers permit because the tower is in navigable waters, Mancuso said.

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