Deadline for a chance to own part of Ducey's border wall is Monday
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- If you've been waiting for your chance to buy a 40-foot shipping container with a bit of international history, intrigue and litigation, your chance is coming this month.
The first of what are expected to be a series of online auctions begins on Oct. 16, with five of the containers that were removed earlier this year from the Arizona-Mexico border up for grabs.
Two of the "lots'' will each be for a single container, with a minimum $2,000 bid; the third will be for three of them starting at $6,000
But you need to hurry if you want to be the first on your block to have one of these.
The Department of Administration requires would-be bidders to register at least seven days before they can make an offer, meaning this coming Monday. That allows the agency to verify your identity, a move that agency spokeswoman Megan Rose said is designed to protect against the use of stolen identities to make purchases.
Once registered, though, there's no immediate rush like occurs at an in-person auction.
Bids are taken online for 14 days. And you can see on the web site what is the highest bid so far.
You even can put in what the agency calls a "proxy bid,'' the maximum amount you're willing to pay so you don't have to keep logging in to see if someone has outbid you.
Rose said, though, if the last bid when the auction closes is below your maximum, you'll only be charged the amount of that last bid plus some yet-to-be-determined small addition to make you the high bidder.
Plus 6.3% sales tax.
Photos of each of the containers are available on the web site.
So when you bid, you will know whether you are getting a red one, a white one, a blue one or some other color.
But beyond that, you're going to have to accept the fact that you won't actually be able to see what you're bidding on until it's yours.
What the state is disclosing is that the containers have been heavily used and "likely have noticeable dents and cracks.'' The only guarantee is that each has operable doors, a roof and a floor.
The best of these actually already are gone.
Other government agencies and nonprofits were given first crack. Rose said the ones in better condition were snapped up, as were all the 20-foot containers.
If you still want one and do win, you've got seven days to pay up. And credit cards are accepted.
But you've also got to haul it off yourself within 30 days -- or, presumably, hire a professional hauler as these don't have wheels -- from the Arizona prison complex in Tucson where they are stored.
And there's no reason to be sad if you don't win within the first round. Rose said a second batch of five containers -- two singles and a lot of three, like the first time -- begins after the first auction is ended. And the same rules and same 14-day window apply.
Given that the state has about 2,000 of these, it could take several more rounds of auctions -- and several months -- before they all are gone.
But Rose said if interest flags, the number of containers being offered every 14 days is likely to increase, a move that might attract more interest from large commercial buyers.
The containers come with a story.
It goes back to early 2001 when newly elected President Joe Biden canceled further installation of border barriers ordered by predecessor, Republican Donald Trump. That provoked a fight with then Gov. Doug Ducey, also a Republican, whose administration eventually gave a $95 million no-bid contract to AshBritt Management & Logistics to obtain and install a double-high barrier along a 10-mile stretch of the international border in the Coronado National Forest.
When the Forest Service objected, Ducey filed suit asking a federal judge to declare that Arizona could install the containers even though they were on a 60-foot-wide strip the federal government claims as its own. The federal agency responded with its own lawsuit.
Ducey eventually issued another contract for $66 million, also to AshBritt, to tear down the ersatz wall and transport the containers to the Tucson prison site where they now stand.
And Gov. Katie Hobbs agreed to a final deal that ended the litigation, with the state paying another $2.1 million to restore the area to the way it was before the containers went up, including reseeding all 40 acres of disturbed area and performing invasive species treatment and monitoring for three years.
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