Noting the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) at its Old Town campus at 4301 Pacific Highway is primarily laboratory space, Cdr. Brien W. Dickson said, “The Old Town complex is an old factory for building bombers during World War II.”
Pointing out the Navy annually pumps an estimated $1.7 billion into San Diego’s economy, Dickson noted, “NAVWAR, in and of themselves, is a major driver of our economy. We want to make good use of what we have. There are 50 years of mostly temporary structures there, and we want to squeeze out more value for the taxpayers and enable us (Navy) to put money in other areas. I know we can do better than an old warehouse building from World War II.”
Dickson said the Navy “is very sensitive about public-private ventures.” But he added, “Maybe we can work out a deal with the City of San Diego where we could get some of this land, and they could get tax revenues benefiting the citizens.”
NAVWAR off I-5 is among sites being considered to create a regional mobility hub directly connecting to San Diego International Airport. A mobility hub links multiple travel modes where people live, work and play, extending the reach of mass transit beyond the first and last mile using technology.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer and SANDAG executive director Hasan Ikhrata are championing a plan to ask the Navy to allow redevelopment of the Old Town property currently occupied by NAVWAR into a transit station with an airport rail connection.
About two years ago, the Navy began seeking private and public partners in possibly redeveloping its approximately 70-acre Old Town site.
“We went out with requests for interest from developers and we had five significant responses come back with ideas on how to develop and use this land,” Dickson said. “SANDAG said they had an interest in developing a transit hub. That’s the conversation.”
Whoever might be selected to redevelop the Navy Old Town campus will have to do an environmental impact study first, Dickson said.
“That will take a minimum of two years,” he noted. “It will be a four-year process before you see anything really change. There are not any shortcuts.”
“This is going to impact our community (Midway),” said MPHCPG chair Cathy Kenton. “My desire is to get the community actively involved in the process. We want Midway to be a true community. Something as important as this, with its potential impacts, our community should have a voice in it.”
MPHCPG will be dark in December and will meet next at 3 p.m. on Jan. 15 at Bay City Brewery, 3760 Hancock St.