Liberty Station's privatization revamp reaps national honor
by Rachel Cromidas
Published - 08/16/07 - 07:30 AM | 1667 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Redevelopment efforts at Point Loma's Liberty Station were recently recognized with the Redevelopment Community of the Year Award from the Association of Defense Communities, which honors efforts to revitalize locales impacted by military closures, consolidations and reductions.

The ADC recognized Liberty Station for its decade-long transformation from the former Point Loma Naval Training Center into a waterfront residential and commercial district under the guidance and coordination of the city redevelopment agency and Corky McMillin construction company.

According to Tony Kempton, a community planner who represents the city redevelopment agency in Peninsula issues, the award recognizes Liberty Station as a model of success for redevelopment of former military sites for private or public reuse.

Kempton did not participate in the city's original planning process, which began once the city assumed the former NTC for redevelopment in 1997. However, he said the ADC Awards Committee was particularly impressed by the public planning that went into the Liberty Station project.

The city has solicited community input and oversight since the federal government announced plans to close NTC in 1993, establishing the NTC Reuse Committee to work with the Peninsula Community Planning Board to advise the city's redevelopment agency.

The community planners followed a redevelopment plan known as the NTC Precise Plan, which Kempton said was authored in 1998 by several private construction and consulting companies. The planning board selected McMillin as Liberty Station's master developer.

The relationship between private construction companies and public planning boards is common among redevelopment communities, according to Paul Kalomiris, executive director of the ADC. Nonetheless, Kalomiris said ADC members admired how San Diego and McMillin "have been able to create this vibrant community "¦ I think a lot faster than perhaps your typical redevelopment project. And I mean any type [of redevelopment project], not necessarily a military base."

Communities which traditionally relied on military bases and their operations for commerce have often struggled in the face of Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) mandates as they regroup to "reuse the property and re-create the economic vitality that's been lost," according to Kalomiris.

Kalomiris said the successful Redevelopment Community of the Year must not only exhibit a public/private partnership but also meet the economic needs of its community following base closures like that of NTC.

He said he was also impressed with McMillin's plans for Liberty Station's 95-acre historic district.

"A lot of that area is on the National Register of Historic Places," Kalomiris said. "So the fact that they are able to reuse the property and come up with appropriate, adaptive reuses for many of the historic buildings is very important."

Kempton also believes that Liberty Station's location has contributed to its success as a redevelopment community.

"It's a unique site right on the water, and it's accessible," Kempton said. "The climate is very desirable, and it's close to amenities "¦ and to downtown."
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