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Great Park Project Highlights the Challenge of Base Redevelopment

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  • October 12, 2011
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A raft of factors explains why the city of Irvine’s vision for transforming former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Southern California is still years from fruition, according to a recent story in the Orange County Register.

For starters, officials’ claims that elements of the Orange County Great Park would be completed within several years were not realistic. And the collapse of the housing market and the economic downturn clearly played a significant role.

But other hurdles are characteristic of just about every base redevelopment effort, regardless of economic fortunes. For one, extensive demolition is required of military structures, including 8 million square feet of runways. The property’s soil and ground water was contaminated, resulting in another obstacle. Finally, the need to rebuild backbone infrastructure presents another barrier to be surmounted.

In the words of Great Park CEO Mike Ellzey, “Everything’s more complicated than it would seem.”

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