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Navy launches 'Future Base Design' initiative at Oceana

Eventually, the public-private land-use program could encompass 1,100 acres of land on the Navy base.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It's a move that will change the landscape around Naval Air Station Oceana.

The Navy on Wednesday officially launched a new public-private land-use initiative that will open the gates of the base for limited industrial development. It will be the first arrangement of its kind in the nation.

Back in 2005, it was a question of too much development around Oceana and the encroachment almost led to the base getting closed. But now, under the Future Base Design concept, it will be conforming development done entirely in partnership with the Navy.

Starting first with the 113-acre former base horse stables parcel, the Navy aims to lease underutilized land on the installation to private or public entities, and in return, receive "in-kind" services of equivalent value from the lessee.

The idea is to redirect an estimated $2.5 million to $3 million a year from in-kind considerations toward Oceana's warfighting mission. In the future, the plan is to redevelop 14 pieces of property, inside and outside the existing base fence line, totaling up to 1,100 acres of land.

"We would go ahead and make sure that we have in the lease language and in the negotiations an ability to fully understand what exactly the businesses intend to do on the property," said Captain Bob Holmes, NAS Oceana Commanding Officer. "We want to ensure there's compatibility."

Rear Admiral Chip Rock, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Commander, said what they're doing at Oceana could become a model for the rest of the military.

"We're building something special here that I think will become a hallmark for not only the Department of the Navy but the Department of Defense," he said.

Wednesday's Industry Day brought together various stakeholders. Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said he is excited about the possibilities.

"Virginia Beach is in a lot of ways running out of land," he said. "So, this is a win-win for everyone."

The concept was first dreamed up about three years ago and the "Intergovernmental Support Agreement" was formally signed in January between the Navy and the City of Virginia Beach Development Authority.

Rock said talks are ongoing over Dominion Energy's Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project and a proposal to construct a switching station on Oceana land. But, he said, no memorandum of understanding has been signed yet.

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