2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 29 Jul 2003 16:15:41 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Military base's closing opens up possibilities
Military base's closing opens up possibilities
Economic studies helped guide the planners in San Diego.
By Alan J. Heavens
Sun, Jul. 27, 2003

In the movie Independence Day, a group of pilots including Will Smith
tries to take off from El Toro Marine Air Station to battle alien

But the aliens get the drop on most of the planes. As Smith becomes
airborne, El Toro disappears in a flash of extraterrestrial laser fire.

That's the Hollywood version of how El Toro met its end as a military

Here's the real story: In September 1993, the U.S. Defense Base Closure
and Realignment Commission recommended that El Toro be closed.

That same year, the California Legislature created the El Toro Reuse
Planning Authority to decide the future of the 3,700 acres in Irvine,
Calif., a master-planned community in Orange County, south of Los

Now, after 10 years of political wrangling, El Toro's actual development
process is just beginning.

Development of the former naval training station in San Diego had a much
smoother ride. The development, a commercial, residential and
entertainment complex called Liberty Station that is being built on the
361-acre site, provides an excellent example not only for El Toro but
for other former military sites, including the eastern portion of the
Philadelphia Navy Base.

In the fall, the Department of the Navy will sell El Toro in four
pieces, through an online public auction.

"The General Services Administration has been doing Internet sales of
property since 1999," David Haase, a GSA spokesman, said. "Before then,
we had gone the traditional oral-auction, sealed-bid route."

Haase said the GSA was pleased with Internet auctions for several

"It allows competition from a lot more sources," he said. "Bidders who
can't make it to the site can examine the property and learn all about
it before the auction begins. If someone learns about the auction a week
before, he doesn't have to enter the bidding unprepared."

There are plenty of plans for what to do with the property - including
devoting 60 percent of the land to recreational use for Irvine and
Orange County residents, as well as creating a 275-acre education campus
and a transit-oriented village of 190 acres straddling the existing
Metro link station.

Most base-reuse plans focus on ways to use the property to compensate
for the loss of jobs and the financial contributions that the former
inhabitants - military personnel and their families - made to the local

"The overall plan... must help replace the jobs lost because of the base
closing, must be financially viable, and have community support" before
the armed services will hand over these properties to local
jurisdictions, said Walter Heiberg, senior vice president for Corky
McMillan Cos. in San Diego and project manager for Liberty Station.

Why doesn't the federal government itself do something with these

"Because, under the Clinton administration, the Navy determined that
demolishing the existing buildings and cleaning up these sites was more
expensive than just giving them away," Heiberg said.

Closer to home, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. is looking
to create a master development plan for unused portions on the eastern
end of the 1,300-acre former Navy Base in South Philadelphia.

This article can be viewed at:

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