Real Estate

Former Cold War Air Force base up for auction ‘as-is, where-is,’

This military site is now a prime commercial opportunity. 

K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Gwinn, Michigan, was built to scramble fighter jets and intercept detected threats; now it’s on the auction block as a property with lots of promise for commercial air service. 

“We are excited to see the next chapter unfold for this property,” Maas Companies Director of Operations Allison Guyton told The Post of the base, the second station that the business has put on the market in as many years.

The base was constructed as one of several support bases built shortly after the start of the Korean War in 1950. It was intended to aid the nearby Calumet Air Force Station, one of 28 advanced radar stations built by the Department of Defense at the time. 

After operating for almost 40 years, this particular base — named for the civil engineer Kenneth Ingalls Sawyer — was decommissioned in 1995, although the active Sawyer International Airport still occupies a portion of it.

The facility may be unknown to many, but it’s the most active airport in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, counting 101,991 passengers in 2021, according to the listing. (Delta and American Airlines have multiple daily flights to it from both Chicago and Detroit.)

cold war air force base for auction
The base is for sale as part of a sealed auction.
Maas Companies Inc
cold war air force base for auction
The base operated for nearly 40 years.
Maas Companies Inc
cold war air force base for auction
An aerial view of the lush landscape.
Maas Companies Inc
cold war air force base for auction
It was decommissioned in 1995.
Maas Companies Inc
cold war air force base for auction
There is also a former hospital, movie theater and restaurant on the lot.
Maas Companies Inc

The base, which is now up for sale in a sealed auction, comes with a city’s worth of commercial structures including a hospital, multiple dormitories, a bar and restaurant, an old Post Office and a movie theater. 

“The properties are being sold as-is, where-is,” warns a listing page. “Some properties are known to have environmental issues” and may contain asbestos or lead paint. 

In addition to bragging rights for owning an entire military base, bidders may also be enticed by the fact that the “natural geography of the Upper Peninsula and access to deep water ports, air and rail make this location well suited for many businesses,” not to mention that “the regional community is welcoming the new owners with financial incentives,” Guyton noted. 

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