Housing costs remain a great barrier to prosperity in California, and the NAVWAR redevelopment provides an opportunity to create affordable housing for military members. That’s why Congressman Peters led a letter to the Navy urging them to consider this as plans are made.
Read more in this March 7th piece from CBS8, posted below:
Push for affordable housing as part of NAVWAR revitalization project
By Richard Allyn
March 7, 2023
The competition to redevelop a sprawling 70-acre Naval property in the Midway District is underway after the US Navy offered the prime real estate in exchange for brand-new cyberwarfare facilities.
Some elected officials and community leaders are now pushing to use part of this site to address San Diego’s affordable housing crisis.
“It is one of the state’s biggest public-private ventures so far,” said Navy spokesperson Caitlin Ostomel. “It is the largest that the Navy has attempted so far.”
What was once home to a military aircraft factory dating back to World War II now houses the Navy’s cutting-edge cyberwarfare command, often called “NAVWAR.”
This highly-critical military resource could eventually have some ‘new neighbors.’ Last year, the Navy put its Naval Base Point Loma Old Town Campus on the market, offering the land for “in-kind” consideration.
“The goal is to get Naval Information Warfare System Command (NAVWAR) a new facility,” Ostomel said, “That is the Navy’s primary objective.”
In exchange for 1.43 million square feet of new facilities to keep its critical military operations going, the rest of the property would be transferred through a 99-year lease, available to create new housing, retail, hotel, and office space, possibly including a transit center.
“Potentially, this would be one of the biggest developments around,” said Congressman Scott Peters, who would like to see part of this sprawling re-development provide affordable housing units.
“Housing dedicated specifically for military folks, which in effect will be affordable housing,” Peters told CBS 8, “because it will be rent-restricted on behalf of those marines and sailors.”
He recently penned a letter to the Navy, co-signed by other local congressional leaders, urging naval leadership to consider this idea.
“Wouldn’t it be great to take some of this property and dedicate it to those marines and sailors, so they have a better shot at a comfortable place to live while serving their country while stationed in San Diego?” Peters added.
While the Navy says at this early phase of the project, the specific types of development have not yet been decided; the Navy had earlier identified a “preferred alternative” that could include housing.
“We could potentially support up to 10,000 housing units, at least in terms of the environmental analysis done so far,” Ostomel pointed out.
“I think it’s common sense that we do this,” said Ricardo Flores, executive director of LISC, or: Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a non-profit bank that supports affordable housing.
“If we’re looking at a public asset of land that we all own, we should consider putting affordable housing on that,” Flores told CBS 8.
He envisions part of this development as housing for those who have already served our country: homeless veterans.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” Flores added. “And I think the public ultimately say, ‘Public land, public issues — put them together and solve a problem!”
“It is just too early in the project to say a certain percentage of that would be one kind of housing or another kind of housing,” Ostomel said.
The Navy said that, at this point, all options remain on the table: even the possibility of using taxpayer dollars to build new facilities for NAVWAR.
But as this public-private development alternative continues to move forward, Ostomel emphasized that the public will have plenty of opportunity to provide input.
“The idea is that we want everyone to know what we are doing,” she added. “This is federal land: it’s owned by the community, it’s owned by the public, so everyone should know the plan.”
The Navy expects to narrow its list of qualified developers to the top three by early April. Those developers would then be invited to submit a formal proposal.
The Navy could decide on a developer for this land by early next year.