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Former Naval Air Station Alameda turned over to city

Military officials on Monday formally turned over the former Naval Air Station Alameda to the city of Alameda, on San Francisco Bay.

According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore and Roger Natsuhara, assistant secretary of the Navy, signed documents that transfer 1,300 acres of the old base to Alameda, in hopes of re-creating the economic engine the base once provided for the East Bay.

The Navy closed the base in 1997 as part of a wave of money-saving base closures throughout the country. Alameda lost 14,000 jobs and millions in tax revenue, and later saw two deals fall through with master developers in part because of the real estate collapse.

Since, it’s hosted some interesting events:

  • The USS Hornet (CV-12) was there as a museum ship, the USS Hornet Museum.
  • The TV series MythBusters often conducts its more destructive experiments on the grounds of the station due to the extensive safety zone which it provides.
  • A two-mile freeway loop was constructed on the base for the filming of a car chase sequence for The Matrix Reloaded. The loop cost over $1.5 million to construct and was used solely for shooting the film’s chase scenes (a seven-week long process) before it was demolished.

But the Navy isn’t gone entirely. Environmental cleanup is likely to continue for years, as Navy crews remove 60 years’ worth of industrial solvents, paint thinner, acids and other toxic chemicals used to repair airplanes.

The city is planning for homes, offices, shops, restaurants and 700 acres of parks and open space at the old base.

The new development would join the Department of Veterans Affairs’ plans for a $2 million clinic and columbarium, as well as federally protected habitat for the endangered California Least Tern and other species.

dickson.pat@stripes.com
Twitter: @StripesDCchief
 

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