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Tustin Base Now Has a Master Planner

City Council's choice of developers for 700 acres of the ex-military site is a milestone, officials note.

October 08, 2003|Daniel Yi | Times Staff Writer

The Tustin City Council has selected a master planner for the largest parcel of the shuttered Tustin Marine base, capping more than a decade of preparation in the massive redevelopment project, officials said Tuesday.

The council voted unanimously Monday evening to grant redevelopment rights on 700 acres of the former military facility to a partnership between Dallas-based home builder Centex Corp. and Walnut-based real estate giant J.F. Shea Co.

The move marked a milestone in the redevelopment of the 1,600-acre base, which officially closed with the 1999 departure of the last Marines.

The Navy has since sold about 240 acres for residential development, and another 240 acres have been reserved for public parks and schools. The county is slated to inherit 85 acres, which will be converted for public use.

Tustin, charged with redeveloping the base, received the remainder. The city will use proceeds from the sale of the land to fund infrastructure in the development.

"The puzzle has come together," said City Manager William A. Huston. "This ties everything together."

Although home construction has already started on parts of the base, the largest parcel was viewed as pivotal to the site's redevelopment.

Preliminary plans for the 700 acres include 1,800 homes, shops, a business complex, a golf course, a hotel and a park.

The final details and a contract will be drafted within a year, Huston said. The Centex and Shea partnership, called Tustin Legacy Community Partners, will buy land from the city as the project progresses. Huston said the city estimates that build-out will occur in 15 to 20 years.

In all, the redeveloped base will include about 4,000 homes and 9 million square feet of office, commercial and retail space.

The Tustin base was built in 1942 to house the blimps that watched the California coast for Japanese submarines during World War II.

It was later converted to a helicopter base.

When the Navy announced its closure along with the El Toro Marine base in 1991, it touched off a decade of fighting and litigation over future use of the bases.

"We closed the chapter on a lot of things" Monday night, said Councilman Jeffery Thomas.

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