Redevelopment project planned for Brown Field

 - May 1, 2009, 6:27 AM

The Southern California developer who built the Premier Jet FBO at Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport is proposing a $1 billion redevelopment of San Diego’s Brown Field (SDM).

Distinctive Projects Company (DPC) is in exclusive negotiations with the City of San Diego’s Land Use and Housing Committee for the redevelopment of Brown. The company is proposing a four-phase, 20-year development plan for 370 acres at the 880-acre airport site on the Otay Mesa. Pending City Council approval, phase one construction could begin by late 2011.

DPC’s proposal is for development of aviation and non-aviation assets on the site. The $100 million phase one would encompass almost one million square feet of aviation- related space, including a new airport main entrance, a Class A aviation business center, dedicated helicopter facilities and additional general aviation hangars. Based aircraft capacity would grow from 150 to 450. Under the plan, the San Diego Air and Space Museum would move from its current location in Balboa Park to expanded facilities at Brown. The proposal also contains non-aviation development, including two hotels, an intermodal transit center, a 57-acre solar park and retail and commercial facilities serving airport users.

Phase one would have six distinct aviation elements: a jet avia- tion business center, a general aviation center, a corporate aviation center, a helicopter business center, and expanded aircraft parking. The 311,000-sq-ft jet business center would include a 14,000-sq-ft FBO; 161,000 sq ft of hangars; a restaurant; 97,000 sq ft of office space; and 30,000 sq ft for administration.

The general aviation center would have 120,000 sq ft of additional hangar space and 10,000 sq ft of offices, while the corporate aviation center would be built to client specifications. The helicopter business center would have its own separate FBO and 35,000 sq ft of hangar space. It would also house the airport fire department. Plans call for all of these as well as 330,000 sq ft of mixed retail/commercial and hotel space to be built on the airport’s south side. The land adjacent to the north side of the field would be home to most of the non-aviation-related businesses.

Brown opened in 1918 as an aerial gunnery and aerobatics school and was used by the Navy until the City of San Diego acquired it in 1962. The airport is a designated Port of Entry for GA aircraft. In recent years, annual operations peaked at 146,000 in 2007. The airport’s main runway measures 7,972 by 150 feet but does not have an ILS because of terrain limitations. Brown currently has one FBO, the San Diego Jet Center by Lancair, as well as the Landing Strip café and bar.