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Monday, Jul 22, 2024

Brown Field Redevelopment Starts with $100M Project

DEVELOPMENT: Revitalized Airport Could Bring $1.5B Economic Impact

SAN DIEGO – A 20-year project to transform Brown Field in Otay Mesa into a regional hub for air traffic has started with a more than $100 million project that will include construction of a new terminal and new airplane hangars.

The overall project is expected to create 2,500 airport jobs and have a $1.5 billion economic impact on the region and could cost more than $500 million at full buildout, according to city officials.

Jorge Rubio
City of San Diego
Chief of Airports

“This is the beginning of a new era for Brown Field and the whole region,” said Jorge Rubio, the city’s chief of airports.

“This project will not only elevate our airport, but the whole community to the global stage,” Rubio said.

Redeveloping the 331-acre Brown Field is the largest general aviation redevelopment project on the West Coast, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The redevelopment of Brown Field will be staged in four phases, with the first buildings expected to be finished by the end of 2025, and the entire first phase of the project due for completion in five years, Rubio said.

“It’s a complex project,” Rubio said.

Initially, the redevelopment will include construction of a 14,500-square-foot new terminal, 1,200 square feet of new offices and inspection areas for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, two airplane hangars of about 37,000 square feet each, new ramp areas, and various infrastructure improvements, including water and sewer lines and new traffic lights and airport entrance lanes, said Rex Massey, senior development manager of Industrial Realty Group.

Industrial Realty Group, based in Los Angeles, is the real estate investment firm that’s redeveloping Brown Field.

“We have significant public improvements in the streets and ultimately all around Brown Field. It’s a big lift,” Massey said. “We’re going to operate the airport. It’s not just a real estate deal.”

Adding more amenities to Brown Field is expected to draw more users to the airport, according to city officials. Rendering courtesy of the City of San Diego

Stepping it Up ‘a Couple Notches’

What will be included in later stages of the redevelopment has yet to be decided, Massey said.

“There’s additional land that we’re really kind of leaving open for our airport folks to seek new businesses and new aircraft-related activity,” Massey said, adding that, “Where we go from here is not etched in stone.”

“As you see growth going on around on the industrial side, we think there’s an opportunity on the aviation side,” Massey said. “As a company, we look for what makes sense in the market.”

Rex Massey
Senior Development Manager
Industrial Realty Group

Brown Field handles about 80,000 flights annually, and the airport is the main port of entry on the West Coast for general aviation traffic.

Rubio said that he expects to see a dramatic increase in flights coming in and out of Brown Field once the redevelopment is complete.

“There’s a lot of people who would like to use it, but they don’t use it because it doesn’t provide the amenities that they would like to see,” Rubio said. “We think if we provide those amenities, others will want to come.”

Speaking at groundbreaking ceremonies, Mayor Todd Gloria said the project “will transform this underused airport into a hub of economic growth,” adding that “The future of San Diego is in Otay Mesa.

“Brown Field has served this city extremely well for a very long time, but the fact of the matter is it’s time to step it up a couple of notches,” Gloria said.

With a backdrop of aging buildings that makes up the airport as the redevelopment begins, Stu Lichter, president and founder of IRG, said, “I believe this airport will look nothing like this in the future.”

“This is a great deal,” Licther said.

The redevelopment of Brown Field comes as construction is nearing completion of a new Otay Mesa border crossing to Mexico and newly developed industrial parks pepper the landscape, along with new residential neighborhoods with homes priced below what they go for elsewhere in San Diego County.

The FAA has classified Brown Field as a reliever airport for San Diego International Airport.

Over the next five years, Brown Field is slated to receive about $14.8 million in Federal Airport Capital Improvement Grant funding to pay for airfield infrastructure and security needs.

Initially called East Field, Brown Field opened in 1918 when the U.S. Army established a gunnery and aerobatics school to relieve congestion at North Island.

The Navy transferred ownership of Brown Field to the city in 1962 with a requirement that it remain an airport.

Industrial Realty Group
PRESIDENT: Stuart Lichter
BUSINESS: real estate investment
WEBSITE: www.industrialrealtygroup.com
CONTACT: info@industrialrealty.com
NOTABLE: Industrial Realty Group has a portfolio of more than 120 million square feet of assets in 32 states


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