By Serena Maria Daniels
DETROIT (Reuters) - For sale: three working Michigan lighthouses. The catch? Buyers must be non-profit organizations that will maintain the historic structures and keep the lights on.
The U.S. General Services Administration, the agency that among other tasks manages much of the federal government's property, said on Friday it was looking to dispose of the "excess government real estate assets."
“Lighthouses like these in Michigan have deep roots and sentimental value as local historic landmarks. Through public sales, GSA helps the U.S. Coast Guard find owners for lighthouses that aren't critical to its mission," GSA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Ann Kalayil said in a statement.
The lighthouses are still active, but are no longer needed by the U.S. Coast Guard, which has made advancements in navigation technology, GSA spokeswoman Catherine Langel said.
The GSA is offering them through an online auction as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.
Interested bidders must be non-profit groups; obtain a private use agreement from the state of Michigan, which owns the land on which the structures sit; and agree to maintain and operate the lights.
Up for sale are the Gravelly Shoal Light in Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron; the Spectacle Reef Light, also in Lake Huron; and the Isle Aux Galets Light Station, commonly known as the Skilligalee, 7 miles (11 km) offshore from Cross Village in Lake Michigan.
The oldest of the three is the Spectacle Reef Light, an 86-foot (26-meter) tower constructed in 1874. The 52-foot (16-meter) Isle Aux Galets was built in 1888 while Gravelly Shoal is the newest, dating from 1939, and stands 65 feet (20 meters) high.
As of Monday afternoon, Spectacle Reef and Ile Aux Galets had garnered bids on the GSA's website (http://realestatesales.gov) of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. The deadlines for bids were listed as TBD, or "to be determined."
Since 2000, more than 100 lighthouses have been sold or transferred out of federal ownership, with 73 given free to preservationists and 41 sold through similar auctions, the GSA said.
(Reporting by Serena Maria Daniels; Editing by Ben Klayman and Eric Walsh)