Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Perils of converting old bases

Perils of converting old bases: "Perils of converting old bases
- Chip Johnson
Friday, November 11, 2005

From one side of San Francisco Bay to the other, the redevelopment of decommissioned military bases promises to change the landscape -- and the skyline -- of the entire region.
Ambitious housing proposals are slated for former bases in Concord, and on Treasure Island, where San Francisco city officials earlier this week unveiled a plan to erect a 40-story residential tower under a plan to build some 5,500 housing units on the old Naval base.
Things are much further along in Alameda and on Mare Island in Vallejo, where businesses fill some of the giant warehouses on the former bases and nearly 3,200 units of housing are planned.
Oakland officials have suggested filling the now-defunct Army Re-Supply Base with everything from Indian casinos to a theme park, and everyone wonders what will become of Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, a 167-acre plot high in the Oakland hills that SunCal Cos. of Irvine bought for a whopping $100 million last week.
Mothballed bases are a rare opportunity for cities to cash in on undeveloped land in a region where housing -- and space -- are in high demand. But the unique chance to shape a new community is not without pitfalls: If environmental liabilities and legally imposed limits on how the land may be used hinder the project or create delays, a potential windfall can become a financial albatross.
'Unless you plan these types of projects very well, it can become a further drain on city resources, and housing doesn't bring in the returns you think they would,'' said Jim Forsberg, the planning director in Concord, which hopes to redevelop the Concord Naval Weapons Station.
And there often is disagreement about whether a particula"

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