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Missile site up for sale

There are three silos on the former Larsen Air Force Base missile complex. Courtesy of Bari Hotchkiss
 (Courtesy of Bari Hotchkiss / The Spokesman-Review)
There are three silos on the former Larsen Air Force Base missile complex. Courtesy of Bari Hotchkiss (Courtesy of Bari Hotchkiss / The Spokesman-Review)

Here’s something unusual for the Eastern Washington real estate speculator.

A California entrepreneur has placed a former Titan missile base between Ritzville and Moses Lake on eBay for $1.5 million. The former Larsen Air Force Base Complex base includes 16 underground buildings, three missile silos and a network of underground tunnels on 57 acres – all available for about $300,000 down and $7,000 a month, on approved credit.

“There’s nothing else like it anywhere,” said Bari Hotchkiss.

Hotchkiss has owned the base for more than a decade, with a dream of seeing it turned into a youth camp or educational facility based on Cold War history. He says he’s willing to work with someone to see that happen, whether it means a sale or lease of the property, or some other arrangement.

In July, he placed the base on eBay – more typically the home of online auctions for vintage clothing and household items. He’s not taking bids, but his ad provides information.

The former base is located about an hour and a half west of Spokane near Batum, in Grant County. It was one of three Titan missile bases in the Columbia River Basin, which were built about 1960 and decommissioned in 1965, according to a Spokesman-Review story in 1999.

Hotchkiss purchased the base more than a decade ago from a partnership that had bought it from the government. While there are several different missile silo sites in the region, he said this one is in better shape than many and that most have problems with flooding.

Among the questions he’s gotten on his eBay page are inquiries about using the base as a home. Hotchkiss was to meet with an interested buyer this weekend at the former base to discuss a possible deal.

He’s been interested in trying to develop the site for years and turned to the Internet this summer as a way to drum up interest. Since posting the item on eBay, he said, he’s heard from lots of people – some potential buyers and others just wondering if he’s serious.

“I discovered eBay several years ago,” he said. “It’s getting to the point where it’s easier and easier to find all kinds of stuff – not just on eBay, but online.

“It’s actually been hard to keep up with all the e-mails and phone calls.”

Hotchkiss is biased, of course, but he thinks that $1.5 million for the base is a steal. It’s a hard thing to set a value for – without a lot of comparable sales in the neighborhood – and any new use at the base would require considerable investment.

Still, for all the acreage and concrete structures, he says it’s a bargain.

“For $1.5 million – gosh, it’s getting to the point where almost anywhere you go in cities these days, that doesn’t buy a lot.”


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