A computer simulation shows how the Navy's preferred plan for redevelopment of the NAVWAR site could create a new San Diego skyline. Rendering courtesy of U.S. Navy.

A computer simulation shows how the Navy's preferred plan for redevelopment of the NAVWAR site could create a new San Diego skyline. Rendering courtesy of U.S. Navy.

The sprawling 70.5-acre collection of World War II-era airplane hangars along Interstate 5 in Old Town would be transformed into a mini-city of sorts with a population of more than 14,000 under a preferred development plan advanced by the Navy.
“This project represents an opportunity for deliberate, planned development near the San Diego airport and downtown,” said Capt. Ken Franklin, commanding officer of Naval Base Point Loma.
The proposal for redeveloping the NAVWAR site − the Navy’s cyber defense and warfare site − is spelled out in a draft environmental impact statement that is up for public review and comment through July 23.
“Our primary goal is to get NAVWAR the facilities it needs, but anything we do on this site should also benefit the community where our sailors and civilian employees live and work,” Franklin said.

30-Year Project
The preferred proposal is the most extensive and ambitious of five proffered by the Navy that range from simply renovating the existing structures to the wholescale redevelopment of the site in partnership with private developers.
That plan would include 10,000 apartment and condominium units in towers that would create a new skyline, 1.35 million square-feet of office space for non-military businesses, 250,000 square-feet of commercial space, two hotels with a total of 450 rooms, and a 140,000 square-foot transit center that would be built in coordination with the SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments), a regional planning agency.
There would be a total of 109 buildings.
Construction would take about 30 years to complete, starting with the new space for NAVWAR, with 2023 the earliest for a groundbreaking.
Development of the rest of the property would proceed once the Navy portion of the project is finished and is expected to spread out over 25 years.
 “This is truly an opportunity for the Navy and San Diego to take steps to address the Navy’s mission requirements, and existing challenges with housing availability and transportation in this area,” Franklin said.

Known as Naval Base Point Loma Old Town Complex, the site is home to the Naval Information Warfare Systems (NAVWAR) Command and the Naval Warfare Systems Command. The center fends off eight million cyber intrusion attempts every day, according to the Navy.  Until June 2019, the command was known as Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR).
Built in 1941 to build B-24 bombers, the old hangars are no longer a fit for NAVWAR’s high security and technically sophisticated operations, according to the Navy.
“Revitalization of OTC (Old Town Campus) would address substandard, inefficient and obsolete facilities that are incapable of meeting and sustaining NAVWAR’s m mission requirements,” Franklin said.


Greg Geisen, Project Manager, NAVWAR

About 5,000 people work at NAVWAR.
In proposing to redevelop the NAVWAR campus in partnership with private companies, the Navy is drawing on the model it used for construction of its new 17-story headquarters on Pacific Highway.
Completed late last year, the $212 million project was built and paid for by Manchester Financial Group as part of a development agreement covering the area.
Greg Geisen, NAVWAR’s project manager, said the NAVWAR project “makes good business sense.”
“Revitalization takes what is federal property, spread out on the first floor of 70 acres, and gives the opportunity to monetize the value of most of that 70 acres to provide the Navy with new, secure, modern facilities on a much smaller footprint,” Geisen said. “At the same time, it allows the people of San Diego to consider allowing housing and a transit-oriented development on what is currently federal land.”

The Navy’s preferred plan would dramatically change views from several locations, including Point Loma.
Building heights under the preferred plan could reach 350 feet. The buildings would be shorter in the other alternatives.
Although the project hasn’t reached the stage of having formal designs of any structures, the Navy has prepared computer simulations that portray a series of office and residential towers to give some perspective on what effect the project could have on various view sheds.
The computer simulations are included in the draft environmental impact statement and available online.
Virtual public meetings on the draft environmental impact statement are scheduled for June 8 and June 23 at NAVWAR-revitalization.com.
The goal is to have a final environmental impact statement by the end of the year, with a decision on which of the five proposals to go with in early 2022.
Copies of the draft EIS are available online and at the Mission Hills-Hillcrest/Knox Library, 215 W. Washington St., the Point Loma/Hervey Library, 3701 Voltaire St., and at the San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd.