A Google Inc. affiliate will lease the massive, 1,000-acre Moffett Field in a deal with the federal government that will also result in Hangar One being rehabilitated.
NASA and the General Services Administration announced the deal with Planetary Ventures LLC Monday. Financial terms of the deal have not been finalized.
Planetary Ventures is a shell company used by Google Inc. in some of its real estate dealings.
The deal doesn’t come out of the blue: Google’s executives have a longstanding relationship with NASA through a separate operating company called H211, which manages their aircraft at the base that straddles Mountain View and Sunnyvale.
H211 has previously offered to pay the government to rehab and lease Hangar One, the 1930s-era hangar that had its toxic siding removed in 2012, if it could store its planes there, but those offers were rebuffed. H211 is currently working with Signature Flight Support on an $82 million private airport at Mineta San Jose International airport.
The Monday deal more directly ties Google to the airfield. But it’s unclear if the company’s ambitions there go beyond its existing uses.
As a real estate play, this looks fairly limited: The government has previously said only a small portion of the airfield with the capacity for about 90,000 square feet of R&D space would be open for new development. That’s tiny relative to Google’s real estate appetite. (Here’s more on the lease opportunity.)
In a press release, the government said that Planetary Ventures would:
- Rehabilitate and maintain the historic integrity of Hangar One and the Shenandoah Plaza Historic District
- Eliminate NASA’s operating and maintenance costs for Moffett Federal Airfield
- Leverage the expertise of the real estate industry to reposition Moffett Federal Airfield as a viable asset to support government and controlled public and private flight operations
- Conform with the 2002 NASA Ames Development Plan and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
- Provide net financial proceeds and best value to the government through an open, public competition
Specifics of the deal, according to a press release, would also include:
- Rehabilitate historic Hangars 2 and 3
- Create a public use/educational facility
- 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
Lenny Siegel of the Save Hangar One committee said the deal looked like a good one for preservationists.
“They could have done it a couple of years ago, but they had to go through a process, and it looks good for the hangar,” he said.
Officials said there would be no change in the operation of the runway.