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NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach seek to lease out under-utilized base land to private developers

The aim is to save the Navy money to devote solely to the war-fighting mission.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It is thought to be a first-in-the-nation public-private land re-use plan for the United States military.

Under Naval Air Station Oceana's new "Future Base Design" plan, leaders have identified 12 parcels -- some 1,400 acres -- that are not mission-sustaining and could be re-purposed in a whole new way.

Of those many acres, most are encumbered by wetlands or other environmental challenges. But, 350 to 400 of them could be developed by the private sector.

"Future Base Design really has two aspects. One is to develop that underutilized land for potential development and then partner with willing partners to take some of my non-core missions away, and I don't have to devote money to that," said Captain John Hewitt, Oceana's commanding officer.

Things like the bowling alley, the golf course, or the barracks could be operated by private companies, and Oceana could devote taxpayer dollars solely to the war-fighting mission.

Captain Hewitt believes these changes would enhance military readiness and add value to the base as well as to sailors' quality of life.

"I know how to run an installation," he said. "I know how to fly Naval aircraft. I don't know anything about business. So, I wanted to reach out to the experts that knew how to find potential businesses that could come here and occupy some of the land."

Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Rear Admiral Chip Rock and Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer intend to sign a "Proclamation for Partnership" on August 5 to seal the deal.

Hewitt speculates it will be five to seven years before the Future Base Design plan is fully realized.

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