The General Services Administration auctioned a 107-acre parcel of land at Fort Belvoir yesterday for $10.1 million, $7 million more than the agency initially planned to accept from the Fairfax County government.
The successful bid came from Cook Inlet Region Inc., a corporation created by Congress under the 1971 Alaska Claims Settlement Act to compensate native Alaskans whose land had been confiscated by the U.S. government.
Kirk McGee, a spokesman for Cook Inlet, said after the auction that the company's plans for the site at Rte. 1 and Telegraph Road in southeastern Fairfax County are unresolved. Company officials are considering the development of a life-care facility for retirees or a mixture of residential and low-rise office development for the site.
Cook Inlet, based in Anchorage, outbid both the Army Retirement Residence Foundation, a private, nonprofit group of Washington area Army officers, and the Marriott Corp., which had agreed to build a luxury complex for retired Army officers for the foundation.
The foundation dropped out of the auction when the bidding reached $4.1 million. The officers' cause was picked up at that point by Marriott officials, who matched bids with Cook Inlet until the Alaskan group raised its offer to $10.1 million.
Retired Lt. Gen. Frank A. Camm, president of the Army officers' foundation, said he and other members of the group were disappointed about losing the bidding war, but declined further comment.
Camm and the foundation were sharply critical of GSA's decision in December to auction the land rather than to negotiate a sale with the Fairfax County government. County officials, acting on behalf of the retired officers, planned to sell the property to them after settling with GSA on a price for the property.
The complex was to be reserved exclusively for retired Army officers and their wives. Foundation officials had said that the minimum fee for those eligible to live in the apartments would be $90,000 plus a $1,000-a-month charge.
The negotiated sale, which had the support of GSA, was abruptly abandoned when the House subcommittee on government activities and transportation issued a report denouncing the proposed $3.1 million deal with Fairfax County and the retired officers foundation.
The report, written by Rep. Cardiss Collins (D-Ill.), challenged GSA's decision to allow the county to negotiate on behalf of the foundation, contended that the federal land should not be reserved to benefit "a select and narrow group" and concluded that the GSA was undervaluing the property by several million dollars.
Collins said through a spokesman yesterday that the auction price vindicated the committee's position.
Earl E. Jones, GSA's commissioner of federal property resources, said the agency was "extremely pleased" with the auction price and added that Cook Inlet has a good reputation throughout the nation for developing surplus properties and working with communities adjacent to those properties.
Cook Inlet will be buying the Fort Belvoir site with credit awarded by the federal government under the 1971 law. The sale in effect reduces a liability of the U.S. government.
As part of the legislation, the 6,300 Cook Inlet natives were awarded $34.36 million by the government to buy surplus federal land.
In 1984, Cook Inlet bought 10 acres of Alexandria waterfront property, known as the Old Ford Plant property, for $14.2 million.