County receives no applicants for airfield project
Feb 01, 2013 | 1827 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The former air control tower at the Crows Landing Air Facility is seen through a fence.--Irrigator file photo
The former air control tower at the Crows Landing Air Facility is seen through a fence.--Irrigator file photo
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It's back to the drawing board for Stanislaus County, after no one submitted an application to develop the Crows Landing Air Facility by the county's 2:30 p.m. deadline on Friday, Feb. 1.

As a result, county staff plans to regroup next week and discuss next steps regarding development of the former naval airfield, said Keith Boggs, the county's assistant executive officer and director of the General Services Agency.

"At this point, we're going to keep our powder dry, and I'm going to meet with our leadership next week, and we'll see what we come up with," Boggs said.

He said he still believed in the Crows Landing project and its potential for the West Side and for the region.

West Park developer Gerry Kamilos, who had an exclusive contract with the county up until August 2012, submitted a letter on Friday to Boggs and County CEO Monica Nino, indicating that he was still interested in the project but could not commit to it at this time and would not submit a request for proposal.

“... The present state of speculative land development financing requires a broad discussion with all of the stakeholders before commitments can be made," Kamilos wrote. "In particular, the infrastructure funding requirements of this project area, when contrasted with similar use projects in Patterson, Tracy, Lathrop and Stockton that already possess infrastructure, make this a particularly challenging prospect.”

The county released a Request for Proposal to develop the airbase Oct. 22 after supervisors voted not to extend the county's contract with Kamilos in August because his West Park team had failed to meet financial deadlines in July to which he had agreed.

Kamilos said at the time that his project had been hindered by a lawsuit from the City of Patterson and by the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros., which had provided the bulk of his financial backing. County supervisors previously had selected Kamilos as master developer of the project in 2007 after seeking applicants to develop the former 1,528-acre former Crows Landing naval airfield between Fink and Marshall roads south of Patterson.

Kamilos' plans had entailed building a 2,930-acre industrial park on and around the airbase, including a 157-acre "inland port" that would be connected to the Port of Oakland via short-haul rail.

The county's new RFP released in October required that development of the airbase stay within the confines of the airfield itself. The county also required a $2 million deposit from the selected developer to pay for an Environmental Impact Report, followed by $750,000 for aviation operations once the environmental document was certified.

Kamilos said in November that he was still interested in developing the airfield and planned to scale down his previous plans. In addition to West Park representatives, a mandatory meeting on Nov. 16 for interested developers attracted representatives from Heritage Capital Group of Florida and Texas-based Matthews Southwest, but neither of those groups submitted applications by this week's deadline.

Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini, whose district includes the West Side, said that he was not surprised that there were no applicants, given the state of the economy. He also said the city of Patterson had a competitive over Crows Landing these days, as it already has infrastructure in place to accommodate business parks.

He recommended that the county extend its agricultural lease for a couple of more years on the airbase property, most of which is county-owned. NASA, which took ownership of the airfield in 1994 as part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Base Closure and Realignment Process, transferred 1,352 acres of the nearly 1,528-acre facility to Stanislaus County in 2004. The remaining 176 acres will be transferred to the county when the U.S. Navy completes environmental cleanup of toxins from the groundwater there.

DeMartini said development of the airfield already would have been underway if the county had not previously selected Kamilos as its master developer.

"We had our opportunity, and the county did everything wrong we possibly could out there, and this is what we got," DeMartini said. "Now, we have to start all over again."

Kamilos could not be reached for comment Friday, but he previously has said no one could have predicted the downturn in the economy that led to the collapse of Lehman Bros.

Though he stated in his letter Friday that he would not submit a development proposal at the time, he had not given up hope of being involved in the project. West Park representatives had examined several different possibilities regarding development of the airfield within the past few months, he wrote, and he would be happy to speak with county officials about those.

“Our confidence and interest in the project is such that, in the event the county is not satisfied with the results of this current RFP process, we would welcome the opportunity to enter discussions with the county on possible paths forward for the implementation of the project,” Kamilos wrote.

• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or jonathan@pattersonirrigator.com.



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