It’s safe to say that just about anyone who has driven on Highway-101 through Mountain View, Calif., at the south end of the San Francisco peninsula close to San Jose, has seen the enormous Hangar One and Moffett Federal Airfield, lying on the edge of the San Francisco Bay looking as if abandoned (from afar, anyway). For years there have been many questions about what will happen with the airfield—and, in particular, Hangar One. Those questions now have an answer, thanks to a deal recently reached between NASA, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), and Planetary Ventures LLC—the shell company Google sometimes uses for its real-estate deals.
Under the recently announced agreement, Planetary Ventures and Google will take responsibility on a lease to rehabilitate the 198-foot-tall Hangar One Naval Historical Monument and manage Moffett Field, which is currently owned by NASA’s Ames Research Center. The deal ensures Moffett Field and Hangar One, which was used way back when to house the U.S. Navy’s giant airships, will see new life and be put to new use while eliminating NASA’s management costs of the airfield.
“Hangar One was the landmark of Silicon Valley well before the rise of today’s high tech titans. Naming a lessee is a testament to GSA’s commitment to providing the best value for the agency’s federal partners and the American people,” said GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini in a statement released on Feb. 10. “NASA’s partnership with the private sector will allow the agency to restore this treasure for more efficient use. GSA’s creative approach to putting underperforming federal facilities to new uses creates opportunities for development while eliminating NASA’s management costs of the airfield and saving taxpayer dollars.”
Google already had a long-standing agreement with the government to use Moffett to operate its fleet of private jets, and Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt—the CEO, co-founder, and executive chairman of Google—actually offered to take full financial responsibility from NASA to restore Hangar One in September 2011, at a cost of over $30 million. At the time NASA stated they needed time to review the details of their proposal. The U.S. Navy was also in the process of removing the old, toxic corrugated metal walls tainted by lead paint and asbestos from the giant building, leaving its impressive frame and foundation exposed to the elements, and—with no deal made to put the hanger to use again at the time—many were worried the iconic hangar and historic airfield would wither away or be demolished.
The new deal, however, ensures that will not happen anytime soon, quite the opposite actually. Planetary Ventures and Google, as tenants to NASA, must “comply with all applicable laws, regulations and policies, including those on topics of historic preservation, environmental compliance, security, health and safety, and airfield operations to support ongoing missions and other government objectives.”
Planetary Ventures’ lease proposal also commits to:
— Re-skin and protect Hangar One
— Rehabilitate historic Hangars 2 and 3
— Upgrade the existing golf course
— Create a public use/educational facility
— Eliminate NASA’s operation and maintenance cost of Moffett Federal Airfield
— Operate Moffett Federal Airfield in accordance with Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (such as maintaining the status quo such as airfield operations)
— Comply with security and airfield management requirements
“At NASA we’re not only committed to exploring our solar system, but also making sure we’re spending tax dollars wisely. That’s why we’ve been so aggressive at making surplus or under-utilized property available to the private sector or other government partners,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden of the news. “The agreement announced today will benefit the American taxpayer and the community around Moffett. It will allow NASA to focus its resources on core missions, while protecting the federal need to use Moffett Field as a continued, limited-use airfield. This decision today represents a tremendously effective partnership between NASA and our sister agency the GSA, and we’re grateful for their leadership in this endeavor.”
The specific terms of the Hangar One and the Moffett Field lease still need to be negotiated, and the details of the pending lease agreement will not be made public until those details are finalized.
To see the Request for Proposals for the “Rehabilitation and Adaptive Reuse of Hangar One and Management of Moffett Federal Airfield,” which NASA and the GSA used in their selection process, click HERE.
BELOW: Additional photos of Hangar One, courtesy of NASA