As published in Scotsman Guide's Commercial Edition, May 2005.
What if a county had 4,000 acres to create a new community in the heart of an urban area?
What if a city could transform a major riverfront area — long used as a massive naval yard — into a vibrant retail, commercial and residential hub?
Many cities and counties throughout the nation are making these transformations at former military bases. Many more could do so in coming years, once the government announces its next list of U.S. military installations slated for closure. As the process to select the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list unfolds, cities and counties are beginning to seriously address military bases’ long-term contributions to their communities and the possible effects of their closures.
The BRAC selection committee, formed on March 15, will submit its list of candidate bases to the President on Sept. 8 for approval or rejection. The final BRAC list becomes official on Nov. 7.
Base reuse as community enhancement
Closures may bring the loss of military and civilian jobs. They also can create opportunities for community and economic development, especially in regions with space constraints. In Orange County, Calif., where new land for development is almost nonexistent, Lennar Communities just purchased 3,719 acres of the closed El Toro Marine Air Station for $649.5 million. Thoughtful, strategic approaches to military base reuse such as this are opportunities to create new communities, new jobs and new places for residents to live, play, shop and be entertained.
Transforming military bases is a daunting task that presents exciting opportunities for local governments, citizens, developers and the brokers and lenders who help fund their projects. Base reuse often focuses on job creation, new development and community needs for housing, recreation and open space. Each base has its own characteristics, issues and public visions that influence solutions. All industry members should understand the marketplace, environmental setting, local community heritage, economic aspects and regional and subregional influences.
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