The public has until Aug. 18 to submit proposals to lease Quarters One and an 18-hole golf course and a driving range on Arsenal Island as part of the Army's latest program to find new uses for venerable federal property.
Officials hope to find a creative use for the historic, limestone mansion that has become too expensive for the Army to maintain.
Developers may submit proposals for one building or a combination of the Arsenal's properties. A government selection panel of experts will review the packages and select the best proposal, perhaps by spring 2007.
The Army's enhanced-use-lease program is designed to find new uses for 190 acres of primarily historic property on the island and several other Army bases nationwide.
The Arsenal's package includes:
-- Quarters One, built in 1871, is a 22,000 square-foot home overlooking the Mississippi River that serves as the official residence of the ranking officer on the island. The home has 51 rooms, 10 fireplaces and 10 bathrooms. Maj. Gen. Jerome Johnson and his wife, Doris, have lived in the mansion for two years. The Johnsons do not have a date yet to leave Rock Island. Nothing will happen to Quarters One until Gen. Johnson completes his assignment.
-- The Rock Island Arsenal Golf Club, a private club adjacent to Quarters One, includes an 18-hole golf course and an 18,000 square-foot clubhouse. The current lease on the golf course is in a hold-over, temporary status under the same conditions as the prior lease until a new lease is made.
-- An 11-acre parcel developed as a golf driving range in 2003. The U.S. Army Garrison operates the driving range. Proceeds support the Arsenal's Morale Welfare and Recreation program.
Last fall, the Army's Installation Management Agency sent base commanders a directive stating that the time had come to consider alternative uses for Quarters One, owned by the federal government and second only in size to the White House.
Quarters One residents often have spent their own time and money caring for the mansion beyond regular Army maintenance. The Johnsons have fixed cracks and painted plaster walls and ceilings in several rooms, according to published reports.
An Army rule prohibits spending more than $35,000 annually on upkeep. Although generally maintained for 134 years, Arsenal officials estimate the home needs about $3 million worth of improvements, including plumbing, electrical, foundation, roof and restoration of the screened porch that wraps around the home's north and west sides.
Iowa and Illinois congressional delegates tried to attach the $3 million to the federal appropriations bill this spring but were unable to do so when restrictions were placed on funding requests for new construction projects, said Steve Vetzner, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, D-Rock Island.
Arsenal officials are considering finding tenants interested in using the home for office space, compatible with the base's mission. Quarters One has not been appraised since the 1960s, but probably will be as part of this process.
The request for proposals is a way of seeking new ideas for uses of the properties, said Gale Smith, Arsenal public affairs spokeswoman. The more creative the ideas the better, she said.
Six parties attended an industry forum on the leasing program and toured the properties July 12, Ms. Smith said.
Finding new uses for Quarters One is definitely an emotional issue for some military and other veteran personnel on the island, Ms. Smith said. People have a lot of pride in the Arsenal and its history, she said.
"It's going to be a significant loss, depending on what's decided by the panel," she said.
The Web site for the Army's Enhanced Use Leasing program is http://eul.army.mil/rockisland/intro.htm
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