BSA Aquatics Base goes up for Auction

BSA Aquatics BaseBSA Aquatics Base goes up for Auction


Patriot Publishing


The former home of the Boy Scouts Aquatics Base on Claytor Lake will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at 2 p.m. March 27, 2024.


The 68-acre property comes replete with a 14,000 square foot hexagonal shaped Event Center, a three-story bathhouse with five third floor living areas and 16 single room cabins. The Aquatics Base is located directly across the lake from Claytor Lake State Park and includes 1,757 feet of   shoreline. Several docks and a small boathouse currently line the waterfront at the Aquatics Base.


Also up for auction is a three bedroom, three bathroom house situated on four acres of land, which adjoins the 68 acre Aquatic Base property.


The auction is being conducted by Jim Woltz of Woltz and Associates on the behalf of the BSA Blue Ridge Council, which also owns nearby Camp Powhattan.


In preparation for the auction, Woltz asked the construction company that built the original Aquatics Base facilities in 2005, to estimate how much it would cost to build these same buildings today.


According to Woltz, building the Event Center, bathhouse and cabins in 2024 would cost approximately $10 million, not counting the cost of the facility’s water and septic facilities, which are significant.


“It’s a Class A water system with a 70-gallon pump filling a huge water tank … similar to a municipal water system,” said Woltz. Documents provided by the Woltz website show that the Aquatics Base water system was built to serve 340 campers.


“It’s a commercial grade septic system with capacity to serve 140 units,” Woltz added.


Readers may recall the BSA Aquatics Base went up for auction in 2022 and was “sold” for $3 million, but months passed without payment and eventually that deal fell through.


“We were in the running to do the auction two years ago but they (Blue Ridge Council) elected to use another company,” said Woltz. “When we get a contract, it will be a solid contract with a solid deposit.”


Woltz says he expects the high bid to be between $2.5 and $3 million for the BSA Aquatics Base and that the reserve price, or the minimum acceptable bid, would be somewhere below the $2.5 million mark.


“But we’re sure it’s going to sell,” said Woltz, who predicts the Aquatics Base and the adjoining residential property will have new owners by the end of this coming March.


It’s important to note that these two properties, the Aquatics Base and the three-bedroom house will both be up for auction and may be sold together or separately. It all depends on who places the highest bid.


For example, a bidder wants to buy both properties and offers $3 million for the Aquatics Base and $200,000 for the house. If a second bidder offers $250,000 for the house, the first bidder must exceed that offer or the house goes to the second bidder.


“The final selling arrangement will be whatever the highest bid is individually or combined,” said Woltz. “The person who wants the aquatic center can raise the bid. The person who wants the house can raise the bid.”


The house is currently appraised at $200,000 and has a separate entrance from Owens Road, which also accesses Adventure Base Road.


The properties are currently zoned under Agriculture but Woltz is confident that the Pulaski County administration will readily work with the new owner and issue a Special Use permit if requested to do so.


“We’ve met with the county and they’re very receptive,” said Woltz. “They’re very willing to help support whoever wanted to buy it for most any purpose.”


Appalachian Power will also have a say as to how the waterfront facilities are configured under new ownership.


“When the Aquatic Center went in, they made an exception for the Boy Scouts to let them build docks suitable for their aquatics camp,” Woltz explained. “Those didn’t necessarily comply with the shoreline ordinance that APCO has but they made an exception. If the Boy Scouts ceased to use it as a scout camp, those docks would not comply and would have to be removed unless it remained an educational facility, then they would reapply to APCO for the exception. If it goes to an Event Center or Restaurant, they’re going to want a different configuration of docks anyhow. The Scouts are going to pay for the removal, so someone can start with a clean slate.”


The buildings at the BSA Aquatic Base seem to be in good condition and have only been sporadically occupied in the past couple of years. Last year, with the sale still supposedly pending, Scouts from Camp Powhattan visited the Aquatic Base during the summer months but only used the waterfront facilities and did not stay overnight.


The 16 cabins, which are divided into two bunkrooms that are mirror images of each other, have remained mostly vacant in recent years. The cabins are spartan and do not have running water but Woltz sees their potential.


“They’re side by side,” said Woltz. “My thought is that you take a wall out and then make one room either side as a bath and then you’ve got a little one-bedroom cottage …. and you already have the water and sewer capacity.”


The event center has multiple restrooms, is handicap accessible and features a vast open area on its main floor that could be used for large gatherings. The bath house has showers, restrooms and several “counselor’s quarters” on the third floor.


The Boy Scouts of America have, in recent years, seen a drop in participation and this has led to a diminishing number of Scouts using the Aquatic Base facilities. The high overhead of maintaining the property led to the decision to sell. Who will buy these properties and for what purpose is unknown, but Woltz is busy marketing the property in the interim.


“This is my personal push … I’m personally trying to convince everybody from community colleges, to universities, to any foundation to buy this,” said Woltz. “Think about all the elementary or primary school students in the region who could benefit from having this in a foundation or educational environment. The possibilities are endless. Take Virginia Tech. They have so many curriculums that could benefit.  Everything from forestry to environmental science to biology and there’s the swim team and the rowing teams. So, I’m really hoping that I can convince some foundations to step up and buy this thing and have it as a regional educational center for all the high schools, junior highs, colleges and universities.”


Woltz has created a booklet showing all the rowing teams on the East Coast that could potentially rent the facility, along with a list of colleges and their curriculums within a 50-mile radius of the Aquatics Base.


“Any of those foundation buyers out there, I have a good resource for them,” Woltz assured.


Prospective buyers interested in participating in the auction are invited to visit the properties on Friday March 8, March 15 and March 22 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.


In the meantime, information about the properties can be found on WOLTZ.COM.