Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to lease 6 sites to cut costs

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will lease up to six spots on and off the sprawling 8,145 acre military installation in a push to build public and private partnerships and cut costs with defense budgets shrinking.

Potential stakeholders toured the locations Thursday and brainstormed ways to make use of the land and create or extend partnerships between the base and outside organizations in academia, industry and government.

At least 130 people filled the Holiday Inn in Fairborn with ideas on how to partner in the medical, education, research, test and development fields, infrastructure services and life cycle and supply chain management — areas where Wright-Patterson has a significant presence with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Institute of Technology, Air Force Research Laboratory and Wright-Patterson Medical Center.

“This effort represents a dramatic change from the traditional approach of military bases to be entirely self-contained and to provide all of its own services,” said Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs, said in a telephone interview.

Organizers say the partnerships could cover everything from sharing the cost of some municipal services like buying road salt or patching potholes to constructing new buildings in areas along the fence line with a dual military and civilian use.

“We live in unprecedented times and it’s time to do things in an unprecedented way,” said Col. Cassie B. Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson.“… This whole process is about getting through the walls that used to be there.”

Riverside Mayor Bill Flaute hoped his neighboring city and the base could find common ground to partner on shared issues such as finding a place for senior citizens to meet and patching potholes.

“We know it’s being done around the country, so why not here?” he asked.

The Air Force will sign enhanced-use lease for up to 50-years, said Alex Colby, chief of the enhanced use lease business development branch at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center in San Antonio, Texas. The military could be reimbursed through cash or an in-kind contribution, such as new construction, depending on terms of the specific deal, he said. The process, now in its initial stages, could take 12 months, until the first leases are signed. Wright-Patterson leaders would consider land outside of the designated sites to suit a specific user, officials said.

The on and off base locations next to the fence line would open more land near the high demand “beltway” along Colonel Glenn Highway and Pentagon Boulevard, said Peter J. Williams, an official with the Greene County Department of Development.

“The real estate there is still very, very high demand and I think it’s because people want to be close to the base,” Williams said. “The idea that we can have parcels that offer proximity that may not have been on the market before (is) really creating something where we know there is a demand.”

Jeff Weissman, a real estate and energy consultant based in Huntsville, Ala., said the potential is high for leased parcels, noting a similar initiative at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., proved successful. But it’s too early to speculate on results at Wright-Patterson, he said.

“It’s hard to say at this early stage how big it could be or how small it could be,” he said.

The Defense Department started similar initiatives on 16 military bases last year and will expand to 30 bases this year.

The Air Force has brokered deals reaching $1 billion on enhanced use leases at other bases with a goal of $5 billion, Air Force figures show.

The Wright-Patterson parcels include: 5.8 acres bordered on the east by National Road and Kauffman Avenue on the north, and eight acres on the opposite side of National Road. The base counts both pieces of land as one parcel.

An 18.9-acre parcel outside the base fence line at Mission Point and bounded to the north by Colonel Glenn Highway and Interstate 675 exit ramps.

A 17.7-acre plot in the area of Twin Base Golf Course and Gate 16A, a truck inspection entryway. The area is bounded by Ohio 444 to the south, Communications Boulevard to the north and northwest, Hebble Creek to the east and the golf course to the west. If developed, the base would need to relocate the truck inspection gate, officials said.

A 20.9-acre plot that includes an excess parking lot outside Air Force Material Command headquarters. The area is bounded by Kuglics Boulevard to the northwest, Warner Robbins and Ogden Avenue to the north and northeast, Ohio 844 and Gate 15A to the west, and an Ohio 844 exit ramp to Ohio 444 to the south.

A 40.9-acre parcel near the main runway and bounded by Loop Road to the west and Ohio 235 to the north and east. The parcel can only be used to offset development if the existing truck inspection point at Gate 16A needs to be relocated, officials said.

A 31.7-acre parcel, formerly military housing, bounded by Ohio 444/Spruce Way to the east, and Redbud Lane to the west and in the area of the Hope Hotel and Conference Center and the Wright-Patterson Medical Center.

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