Competition Site Proposal
The competition proposal is parcel #18, a 84.5 acre site which is designated as the future Orange County Urban Regional Park and includes Hanger #28. About a dozen historic structures still remain. (Optional: Hangar #29 to the south is part of the city's Disposition Package #7. It is slated to be torn down unless a developer proposes a reuse solution.)
Built in 1942 a few months after the U.S. entered World War II, the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) housed the Navy’s lighter-than-air (LTA) squadrons which conducted antisubmarine patrols off the Pacific Coast in its fleet of manned blimps. After the war MCAS was decommissioned, but in 1951 the Navy reactivated the base to handle rising tensions from the Korean War, solely dedicating it to helicopter operations. The base played a major role in the Vietnam conflicts during the 1960s and 70s, as well as, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the early 1990s. Due to their activity in such Naval events, the two giant blimp hangers located on the base were designated into the National Register of historic places in 1973.
Prior to the construction of the base, Tustin was a quiet agricultural town surrounded by acres of orange groves and agricultural fields. The MCAS site was used by local farmers to grow lima beans as part of Orange County’s vibrant agricultural history. Even in the 1980s the Navy leased 350 acres of the base to farmers for commercial crop development, however, light industrial and manufacturing uses had surrounded the site. By the 1990s urban encroachment limited the use of the aviation facilities and the end of the Cold War reduced its necessity. In 1991 MCAS was selected for decommissioning through the Base Realignment and Closure Act, and it officially closed on July 3, 1999.
After closing in 1999, redevelopment plans were drawn for the airbase. The question remained: how could the hangars be reused? Both the county of Orange and the city of Tustin hosted design competitions calling for a creative reuse solution for the blimp hangars. Despite interest from designers and a number of proposals, the competitions failed when the city declared that reuse of the structures was not economically viable. The hangars currently sit empty waiting for environmental clean up and adaptive reuse. In August 2011, the city of Tustin, acting as master developer, released an RFQ searching for interested developers. Hangar #28 is proposed as part of the county’s urban regional park, while Hangar #29 will most likely be demolished based on submitted plans from potential developers. Through innovative, sustainable design, we hope that these historic structures can be saved and reused. A nostalgic symbol of Orange County, these structures contribute to the military history and greater community of the area.
View 2011_OAC_mapping in a larger map
Orange County: County Operator 714.834.5400
OC Parks: www.ocparks.com
Tustin Legacy - City of Tustin Community Redevelopment Agency: www.tustinlegacy.com
More Info and Photos:
Video About the Hangars:
Tustin gives OK to raze blimp hangar | Los Angeles Times
Tustin Seeks Developers... | defensecommunities.org
A legacy in limbo | ocregister.com
Future uncertain for 2 Tustin blimp hangars | ocregister.com
Tustin blimp hangars' history comes to life | ocregister.com
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