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Onizuka Air Force Station, California Redevelopment Profile

The former Onizuka Air Force Station now supports a range of public services including education and veterans’ health research.

Program:

Downsizing

Military Service:

Air Force

Onizuka Air Force Station Today

The Foothill De-Anza Community College Sunnyvale Education Center and a consolidated Veterans Administration (VA) Health System Research Facility are now located on the former satellite operations command and control site. The Sunnyvale Education Center is designed to serve over 4,000 students each semester with associated education and administration staff. When completed, the VA Health System facility is expected to house approximately 200 VA researchers currently located in seismically and functionally deficient buildings at the VA’s Palo Alto Health Care System. These two facilities utilize approximately 13.5 of the 19.6 acres transferred from the Air Force to the City of Sunnyvale. While the exact employment figures are yet to be determined, the reuse of Onizuka Air Force Station (AFS) is on pace to replace or exceed the 171 civilian jobs that were lost.

Background

Onizuka AFS was operational from 1960 to 2010. Its distinguishing feature was Building 1003, known locally as the Blue Cube or simply the "Cube" given its size, color, and lack of windows. The station's other notable features were its three primary parabolic dish antennas used for communications with remote tracking stations that controlled military satellites. This facility also supported the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Mission Control. The Base Realignment and Closure Commission of 2005 closed the Onizuka Air Force Station, a 19-acre high-security military communication station with 507,460 square feet in 33 buildings. The Air Force completed transfer of all property in 2013.

Onizuka AFS serves as an example of how a local redevelopment authority (LRA) can successfully navigate a complex property disposal/redevelopment process and adapt to changing needs and economic conditions. Early in the plan development process, the LRA had envisioned inclusion of a nine-acre, multi-tenant Auto Center, with roughly six acres set aside for homeless assistance, and a city-operated Fire and Emergency Services facility. In the end, the Auto Center project never materialized due to changing economic conditions, and the two local homeless organizations vacated their interest in the property in exchange for a better location at a nearby armory site owned by the City of Sunnyvale. The Fire and Emergency Services facility also relocated. The vacated parcel is now being considered for a possible hotel development by the new property owner.

Updated October 2017