Saturday, March 17, 2018

C-17 Plant--Play It Again, In Long Beach

It is now known that the joint Long Beach-Huntington Beach proposal to Amazon for its second Headquarters offered up the former Boeing C-17 plant as one of three possible sites. Exactly how the city would have done this is unknown, e.g., an outright purchase from Boeing or maybe some kind of lease involving a developer. What is known is that the mayor wants to attract jobs and an aviation museum does not have a lot of paid employees. On the other hand, the American Alliance of Museums cites a study that tourists who visit museums spend 60 %  more than the average leisure tourist, e.g., on food and lodging, which translates into tax revenue for the city. And, a museum is a great way to motivate and inspire young people. Despite this, the city is not interested in studying the feasibility of a new air and space museum on the property, nor asking Boeing to sponsor a study. Long Beach may be promoting other ideas, though, e.g., a movie studio was considered for the former Boeing 717 property when it was sold a few years back. And, there are already a number of studios in the city.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Las Vegas--Numerous Advantages

While potential sites like Moffett and Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area will have to contend with rising sea levels (we are taking a 100 year plus view for a museum), Las Vegas will have the opposite problem. Fortunately, a museum is not a big water user. The other major issue in both the Bay Area and the LA/Orange County areas, no surprise here, is the value of real estate. As a result, developers have already taken over former military bases for housing, light commercial use, parks, etc. The Las Vegas/Henderson area still has potential sites available, although locations near an airport are disappearing rapidly. The prospect of a high-speed rail link to SoCal is also improving and will bring in additional visitors. Read more in an article published December 29th in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The web site is:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Long Beach--Developers In The Driver's Seat

With the success of Douglas Park, the former 717 production facility and other property that has been transformed into new office buildings, warehouses, and other commercial space, developers now have their sights on the former C-17 production site on the West side of the airport. Changing the current direction is a long shot, but using part of the property for a new museum is still something to consider. Read more in my letter published July 1st, in the Long Beach Press-Telegram, in the Opinion section. The web site is:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Former Alameda NAS--A Challenging Site

Much of the former airfield runway area will be dedicated to a wildlife refuge, to a VA clinic with a columbarium/cemetary and a possible sports complex. Many of the hangars and other buildings on the airfield have been designated as national historic structures and are being repurposed once cleared of any environmental problems. This includes a large hangar (Bldg. 41) directly behind the Naval Air Museum (Bldg. 77). Bldg. 41 is approximately 110,000 sq. ft. and is now occupied by Wrightspeed, a venture headed by a co-founder of Tesla to convert commercial vehicles to operate on electric power provided by batteries that can be recharged from an on-board turbine generator. As the city gave Wrightspeed a long-term lease, this hangar is no longer available for the Naval Air Museum to house aircraft in the future. Other hangars have also been leased to energy companies, including Makani, a recent Google purchase, developing a tethered flying wing with on-board generators to capitalize on the greater wind speeds available above the surface. Google has leased 65,000 sq. ft. and has an option to lease considerably more space when it becomes available. The largest building on the field, Bldg. 5, includes 263,000 sq. ft. of hangar space, but is still undergoing environmental remediation. This would be a good minimum size for a large, new museum, although additional space would still be required for restoration work and parking.

Site 'A' (68 acres) directly East of the Naval Air Museum is outside the Historic District and plans for its development have recently been approved by the city. Plans include a new ferry terminal, new residential housing, restaurants, retail shops, and road improvements. A new operations and maintenance facility for the emergency transportation ferry system also recently broke ground. This will be located just East of the Hornet. There is no mention in the Site 'A' plans about expanding the Naval Air Museum, only that the museum will lose part of its parking to support the new ferry terminal. The remaining area Northeast of the Hornet is designated as Site 'B' (82 acres). This area is slated for commercial use and plans are not yet finalized.

Since the base closure, the city has focused on developing the property, generating lease income and creating jobs. Expanding the existing Naval Air Museum doesn't appear to be a priority for the city. Even if the city did rally behind the concept of a large, new museum, significant issues, such as the response of this area (much of which is on man-made land fill) to a major earth quake and to potentially rising sea levels, could impact the long term (think 100 plus years) viability of the site. Near term problems caused by the additional traffic from a major museum due to the lack of ready access to BART (although, Alameda could eventually be the terminus for a new transbay tube) would have to be resolved. For now, at least the Hornet may benefit from the new ferry service and if visitors have any energy left, they may visit the Naval Air Museum--a nice little museum--low tech, but with interesting photos and other artifacts telling the story of the NAS and China Clipper.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Moffett Field Update

Just looking at the availability of space (land) at this location, it looks like this would be an issue for a large, new air and space museum. As part of Google's (Planetary Ventures) contract with the government to operate and manage the airfield, they naturally want to use the large hangers for internal (business) use. The area between Hwy. 101 and the field is NASA Ames and the NASA Research Park. Space (buildings) in the Research Park is being leased to various start-ups and universities. The long term plan is to continue to share this area and improve the park. In the lease proposal, Google committed to build an educational/conference/museum facility of approx. 90,000 sq. ft. Congratulations to the many people who dedicated their time to this concept, along with saving Hangar One. Unfortunately, the current plan doesn't provide enough space for a truly grand air and space museum, which is the goal discussed here and via a new Facebook website. And, sites for a large, new museum elsewhere are also disappearing at a rapid rate as developers want the space for commercial/residential use. This is the case with the Great Park in Orange County, property next to Long Beach airport and the former Naval weapons depot in Concord, CA. We are still optimistic, though.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Local Politics, the FAA and Rents

I have just returned from a trip to the Seattle/Everett area, where one museum--Historic Flight--has run into some local head winds. A county council actually turned down a proposal to expand the museum. The county argued that an expanded museum, which is located on the airport, would interfere with future hanger development and rental income would be lost. The fact that the proposed expansion would generate increased tourism in the area did not sway the council, at least for now. A related issue is the pressure put on airport management by the FAA to charge equal rents to all airport tenants, whether a non-profit or not. One other museum director has told me he may be faced with a similar situation in the future. While being able to ferry flyable airplanes to a museum located on a public airport certainly is easier than having to disassemble and truck them over a highway, an off-airport location (or a private airport) for a new museum may have to be given serious consideration.