Plan for Former C-17 Site Taking Shape

By: 
Sean Belk

The future of Boeing’s former C-17 Globemaster III manufacturing plant is slowly becoming clearer as the City of Long Beach and the aircraft manufacturer continue gathering input from local stakeholders in creating a vision for development at the mostly vacant property.

The site, once used for designing, building and maintaining the military cargo plane from the 1980s to late 2015, includes several buildings and large aircraft hangars on more than 90-acres of airport-adjacent land currently owned by Boeing. The property is expected to hit the market for sale and/or potential commercial development sometime within the next year, according to Boeing officials.

“We are working on finalizing plans and marketing efforts to bring this unique opportunity to the market,” said Boeing spokesperson Tiffany Pitts in an email to the Beachcomber. “All our efforts are being coordinated with City of Long Beach stakeholders to provide the best opportunity for new businesses in the city. We will work through our process to identify the most suitable buyer, who will benefit both The Boeing Company and the communities in which we live and work.”

The city is expected to release the first draft of what’s being called the Globemaster Corridor Specific Plan (GCSP) this December for public review and comment before going to the Long Beach Planning Commission and City Council for consideration in early 2019, according to city officials.

The specific plan is expected to help guide development at the corridor, encompassing the former plant and surrounding areas, bounded by Carson Street, Spring Street and the 405 Freeway, Cherry Avenue and Redondo Avenue.

Rather than requesting any new housing, local residents and businesses have so far expressed the need for high-paying jobs through industrial, technology, entertainment and/or retail uses, with hopes new businesses will fill the void left by the C-17 manufacturing facility that once employed 5,000 workers at peak production.

Stakeholders also envision development that would compliment the nearby master-planned Douglas Park business district that has flourished with industrial and tech companies, such as Virgin Galactic, as well as hotels and the Long Beach Exchange (LBX) retail shopping center that opened this year.

“We want to be able to explore and induce development that’s in line with what’s happened to the north in Douglas Park and the Long Beach Exchange,” said Sergio Ramirez, deputy director of the Long Beach Economic & Property Development Department, in an interview. “We want to continue technology and industrial [uses] but have venues or buildings that help create good, high-paying jobs.”

After the city conducted two community workshops to gather input earlier this year, a third workshop is tentatively scheduled for this September, city officials confirmed.

Chelsey Finegan, spokesperson for the Long Beach Development Services Department, stated that, based on feedback received from the first two workshops, stakeholders have recommended that new development provide “neighborhood-friendly” retail and service uses as well as new jobs and employment for local skilled workers.

In addition, stakeholders have requested that development: support and protect existing businesses; enhance aesthetics of the Cherry Avenue corridor; provide open space and landscaping in the area; address parking shortages; pay homage to the local historic aviation theme; utilize adaptive reuse of historic buildings; provide entertainment, such as movie theaters or concert venues; and attract film studios and other film production operations.

While development is ultimately based on Boeing’s timeline for property disposition, the goal of the specific plan is to help guide development that would continue Douglas Park’s economic prosperity and create a new “economic engine” in Long Beach, Ramirez said.

“From an economic development standpoint, we see this property as really important for the City of Long Beach and what Long Beach is evolving to,” he said. “I think the proximity to the airport, to the freeways and its location in Southern California is an incredible opportunity to be able to guide and have development come forth that really creates another economic engine for the city.”

As far as Boeing’s presence in Long Beach, Pitts said the company’s remaining Long Beach operations, including Boeing Commercial Airplanes Engineering and Boeing Global Services (BGS) at the corner of Lakewood Boulevard and Carson Street, will remain active.

Boeing will also employ teammates supporting the company’s new “vertical integration strategy,” designed to strengthen Boeing’s internal capabilities and customer knowledge, in Long Beach, she said, adding that the C-17 global services team, which was temporarily moved to Huntington Beach, will soon return to the Long Beach site.

“We’re extremely proud of our deep and rich heritage here in Long Beach, and we remain committed to the community through volunteerism, outreach to local nonprofits and academic organizations, as well as local government,” Pitts said.

Long Beach Airport, meanwhile, is moving forward with negotiations for two development proposals on 31 acres of city-owned, airport-adjacent land– a large portion of which was once used by Boeing as an employee parking lot for the C-17 manufacturing plant.

After releasing a request for proposals (RFP) last August for aeronautical business development on five parcels, ranging in size from 3 acres to 11 acres, two current airport tenants, Ross Aviation and Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, have proposed expanding operations.

On June 12, the City Council approved an agreement for Ross Aviation, which acquired Toyota AirFlite – a fixed-base operator (FBO) providing general aviation services – to expand its 12.6-acre operation by more than 3 acres.

Gulfstream, which provides completion services for newly manufactured business jets and maintenance support, is in negotiations to acquire and develop several parcels, according to Matt Brooks, airport properties officer. However, specific terms and conditions of the proposal have yet to be disclosed before going to City Council for approval, he said.

“We are in active negotiations with Gulfstream regarding its proposal to develop several parcels,” Brooks said. “The negotiations are going well. We’re anticipating completing these negotiations of the major terms and conditions in the coming months to allow us to present it to the city council for approval.”

sean@beachcomber.news

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