By Pat Broderick, San Diego Business Journal staff 6/27/2005
Forwarded by Dick Blaisdell

Converting former military bases to viable properties can be a long and tedious process for communities, and often can take more than a decade for them to recover from a closure. According to Harry H. Kelso, an attorney, environmental consultant and chairman and chief executive officer of Base Closure Partners, LLC, in Richmond, Va., some 28 percent of closed Department of Defense land from the 1988 to 1995 base closures still has not been transferred from the department.

Kelso considers San Diego’s Liberty Station multiuse development now under way in Point Loma, along with one he helped negotiate in 1997, the conversion of Fort Pickett in Richmond, Va., as national models.

Covering 361 acres of prime bayside property less than six minutes from Lindbergh Field, the Liberty Station project is a collaboration of the city’s redevelopment agency and San Diego-based Corky McMillin Cos. The city, Navy and airport officials still retain ownership of about 80 percent of the land at the former NTC, where, according to the San Diego Navy Historical Association, “millions of sailors have entered the gates as civilians and left weeks later as sharp, well-trained sailors in the world’s greatest Navy.” McMillin was given the right to lease and sell some of the land to offset the cost of the redevelopment, and has completed 50 percent of the infrastructure upgrades, including a 46-acre public park and promenade that intersects the entire project. NTC’s redevelopment, which includes residential, office, schools, recreation, retail and hotels, began in January 2001, with build-out expected by 2008.

The Defense Department has its own favorites:

  • Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin, Texas, closed in 1993. In November 1994, groundbreaking took place on the redevelopment and construction of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the last major new airport to be built in the 20th century and considered one of the most successful military base conversions ever, according to the Defense Department. By 2012, some 16,000 new jobs and more than 725,000 square feet of new development to the area are expected.
  • England Air Force Base, Alexandria, La., closed in 1992. The England Industrial Park also is one of the most successful base reuses in the country, according to the Defense Department, attracting businesses that have created or will create more than 2,000 jobs — more than double the civilian employment at the time of closure, with lease and other revenues totaling more than $8 million a year.
  • Mather Air Force Base, Sacramento, closed in 1993. Converted to industrial and commercial uses, the former base hosts 45 tenants, including 17 private companies, resulting in more than 1,280 new jobs. Sacramento County also established a county homeless complex on site and acquired 1,440 acres of land for
    new parks.
  • Pease Air Force Base, Portsmouth, N.H., closed in 1991. The establishment of the Pease International Tradeport has created more than 5,000 new jobs and has more than 175 major tenants, occupying more than one million square feet of office and industrial space.
  • Grissom Air Force Base, Grissom Aeroplex, Ind., closed in 1994. There are about 40 major tenants occupying the former base, including private industries, a state prison and a golf course, with more than 1,000 civilian jobs being created.
  • Charleston Naval Base, Charleston, S.C., closed in 1996. More than 50 major tenants are using the former base, including private, local, state and federal organizations. The South Carolina Port Authority has been granted a 30-year lease, which will allow it to establish a major marine cargo handling facility at the site. More than 2,700 new civilian jobs have been created.
  • Long Beach Naval Complex, Long Beach, closed in 1996. More than 1,200 acres have been transferred and almost 4,000 new jobs have been created. The station’s housing sites are now used for secondary and postsecondary education facilities, a Department of Labor Job Corps site, a science and technology park,
    and a transitional housing facility for the homeless.
  • Orlando Naval Training Center/Naval Hospital Orlando, Orlando, Fla., closed in 1995. The city’s reuse plan for the four sites call for mixed-use redevelopment, including office parks, housing, education complexes, natural areas and federal uses. During the proposed 10-year development process, Orlando Partners expects to build more than 35,000 square feet of retail space, 1,500 million square feet of office space, 788 houses, 570 condos, and 1,800 apartments, and include three neighborhood centers, two public schools, and more than 200 acres of parks and open space. The property value upon completion of the main site is estimated at more than $1 billion.
  • Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Aurora, Colo., closed in 1999. More than 1,000 new jobs have been created, and reuse has included several creative projects - a state-of-the-art Life Sciences City, resulting in a unique partnership with the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, its affiliated University of Colorado Hospital, the city of Aurora, the Children’s Hospital, and the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority. About half of the redevelopment program, as well as 19,000 jobs, will be at the site by 2010.
  • Fort Benjamin Harrison, Lawrence, Ind., closed in 1996. More than 450 acres have been resold to developers, who have brought more than 1,000 jobs to the area; more than 1 million square feet of new space has been constructed or is under construction; and total property sales have exceeded $16 million. The development includes new homes, senior citizen housing, and a YMCA. Seven former barrack buildings are under renovation to be sold as 96 luxury condos; and about 1.2 million square feet of historic structures have been renovated at an estimated investment of $10 million. Also, the city of Lawrence has completed the construction of a new government center, which will become the cornerstone
    of the city’s new town center.
  • Cameron Station, Alexandria, Va., closed in 1988. More than 2,000 housing units were constructed, along with recreational facilities and commercial space. The Army also transferred more than 50 acres of parkland to the city, using a public benefit conveyance to preserve open space for the community.

San Diego Business Journal, Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved.

Note from Jug: See also article Glenview NAS Conversion,under NAVY, left column, Keeping Apace home page.