Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mare Island Developer Marketing Town Center

Mare Island Developer Marketing Town Center
East Bay Business Times
by Jessica Saunders

Shown here, a portion of the 83-acre Mare Island Town Center area recently approved for development by the city of Vallejo.Photo courtesy of Lennar Mare Island LLC

View Larger The master developer of Mare Island is marketing 23 parcels of commercial property envisioned as the business district of the former naval shipyard, but the land can't be sold to third parties until environmental cleanup is completed.

Signoff by environmental regulatory agencies on the 83-acre Town Center site is expected by the middle of next year, Lennar Mare Island LLC spokesman Jason Keadjian said. The developer is "dual-tracking" the development and environmental remediation processes.

The city of Vallejo OK'd a tentative vesting map for the district bounded by Railroad Avenue, Azuar Drive, Connolly Street and G Street at the Aug. 20 Planning Commission meeting. The area is entitled for 1,110,00 square feet of office, research and development and light industrial use and 130,000 square feet of civic and education uses.

Several retail developers are interested in developing one or more parcels for banks, dry cleaners or small grocery stores, Keadjian said.

Currently, there are more than 90 businesses on Mare Island, providing 1,544 full-time jobs and 280 part-time jobs. The largest employer is the Western regional headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service, with 350 employees, followed by Jeffco Painting & Coating Inc./Abrasive Blasting & Coating/FBC Systems Inc. (all related companies), XKT Engineering Inc., Touro University and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The commercial district development comes as Touro University is working on an agreement with the city to build the nation's first heavy-ion, particle-therapy cancer treatment center on the northern end of the island. The college envisions a research and education campus on 191 acres on the north island, an expansion of the current campus on 44 acres to the south. It's negotiating with Lennar Mare Island to purchase the south campus which it currently leases.

Mare Island history

Mare Island, a 5,200-acre stretch of land across the Mare Island Strait from Vallejo, became the first naval shipyard on the West Coast in 1854. It was once a natural island in San Pablo Bay just west of Vallejo, but infill from waterway dredging over time made it a peninsula with the Bay on the western side and the Mare Island Strait/Napa River on its eastern side. Of the 5,200 acres, about 1,400 can be developed.

The Mare Island shipyard grew into the largest industrial plant in the state and Solano County's largest employer, but the federal government closed it in 1995. Lennar Mare Island LLC, a joint venture of home builder Lennar Inc. of Miami and real estate investment, finance and management company LNR Property Corp. of Miami Beach, Fla., was named master developer for 653 acres. In 2002, the Navy transferred the land to the city, which immediately transferred it to Lennar Mare Island. It was the largest early transfer of former military land in California.

jsaunders@bizjournals.com | 925-598-1427

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