Navy and San Diego Team Up to Tackle Modernizing the ‘Old Town Campus’ in Midway District

by on July 2, 2020 · 4 comments

in Military, Ocean Beach, San Diego


Editordude: We offer the following without comment as a FYI for our Point Loma and Midway readers.

by Elisha Gamboa / Defense Visual Information Distribution Services / July 1, 2020

To keep Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) ready to meet its critical, high-tech, cybersecurity mission, the Navy is working alongside advocates throughout the San Diego region to create a state-of-the-art facility in support the command’s diverse, high-priority mission and rapidly growing cyber requirements.

Known as the Navy Old Town Campus (OTC) Revitalization Project, this effort centers around NAVWAR Headquarters, which is currently located on 70.5 acres of Navy-owned land, in the Midway-Pacific Highway Community. NAVWAR is currently located in World War II aircraft factories built in 1941 as an assembly plant for B-24 bombers. These 80-year-old buildings are not compatible with NAVWAR’s high-tech, high-security mission today.

“The need for new facilities is urgent,” stressed NAVWAR Executive Director Pat Sullivan. “Our current facilities are not adaptable, sustainable or compatible with our mission to identify, develop, deliver and sustain information warfighting capabilities in support of naval, joint, coalition and other national missions.”

With 11,000 military and civilian personnel worldwide and 5,200 located in San Diego alone, NAVWAR’s mission is to develop, acquire, and secure networks and cyber systems for national defense and deterrence, and is in vital need of modern, safe, secure and sustainable facilities.

“The bottom line is we have a world-class mission, employ world-class talent, and need world-class facilities so that we can continue to outpace our adversaries in the delivery of world-class technologies now and into the future,” said Sullivan.

In 2015, as part of their regular community and industry outreach, NAVWAR leadership and Navy Region Southwest began communicating their critical need for an updated modern facility. Together they built relationships with professionals throughout the region to include the San Diego Military Advisory Council and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

“The Navy is considering alternatives to maximize the value of approximately 70.5 acres of Navy-owned underutilized property at Naval Base Point Loma’s Old Town Campus to support NAVWAR’s facility requirements, while potentially bringing additional economic benefits to the region through the construction and operation of new commercial, residential and transportation facilities,” explained Naval Base Point Loma’s Commanding Officer Capt. Brien Dickson.

In 2018, to advance the revitalization project, the Navy issued a request for interest to seek industry input on potential public-private development and construction of new Navy Facilities. In September of 2019, the Navy and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) entered into an agreement allowing for the collaborative exchange of information and exploration of redeveloping the approximate 70.5 acres that NAVWAR Headquarters currently occupies.

Then in January of 2020, the Navy and SANDAG signed a supplemental agreement to provide both parties with defined milestones to ensure progress in exploring the concept of potentially including the possibility of a transit center on part of the Navy-owned land, while continuing to look into other alternatives and satisfy all applicable requirements.

This project benefits both the Navy and San Diego, as they represent unique synergies. While NAVWAR brings major economic, technological and educational benefits to the region, San Diego provides NAVWAR with an unmatched network of defense contractors, research firms and institutions, talent and proximity to Navy operational forces, installations and essential test facilities.

In addition to providing the ability to execute the mission, a new high-tech facility would attract the skills and talent needed to outpace adversaries in today’s fast moving, more complex and increasingly competitive environment. It would also act as a catalyst for increased economic growth in the region.

“We are equivalent to a Fortune 500 company that deals in high technology,” said Sullivan. “Our goal is to attract the same kind of workforce that Google, Apple or Qualcomm are competing for. These modern, secure facilities will allow us to draw and retain a high-tech workforce that will continue to protect and defend our Navy and nation so that we can compete and win in the coming decades.”

The Navy collected and consolidated a requirements list, which includes approximately 1.66 million square foot (sf) of space. This breaks down into 1M sf of office space, and 660K sf of laboratory space and warehouse space.

Most recently, in January 2020, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Navy published a notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the potential environmental effects associated with revitalization of OTC to support NAVWAR’s current and future operational readiness. The Navy then completed a 30-day public scoping period in February 2020 to identify community interests and issues to be considered during preparation of the draft EIS. Additional opportunities for public participation will occur after the publication of the draft EIS later in 2020.

Once complete, the new NAVWAR facilities would serve as a cornerstone for the Midway-Pacific Highway Community, a hub for technology development, and as the Nation’s premier center for cyber warfare supporting the City of San Diego, the Navy and the Nation for generations to come.

For more information on this project visit


NAVWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities and services that enable naval, joint, coalition and other national missions operating in warfighting domains from seabed to space. NAVWAR consists of more than 11,000 civilian, active duty and reserve professionals located around the world.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Don Wood May 18, 2021 at 4:47 pm

This project may be illegal. In order to allow the Navy to work with a private developer to redevelop the Navy Broadway Complex on our downtown bayfront, the Navy and its allies had to work with then Senator Pete Wilson to push a single issue bill through congress, which authorized the Navy to work with a private developer, but only after the Navy and the city signed a development agreement specifying the nature, size and heights of buildings that were allowed on the site. To my knowledge, no similar legislation has been passed by congress or signed by the president allowing the Navy to partner with a private developer to redevelop the NAVWAR site.


Geoff Page May 19, 2021 at 9:02 am

Don, unless you have some other information, I’m pretty sure this same thing was done with the Broadway project. Manchester built the Navy a building for nothing and in exchange got the right to redevelop the rest of the site. This is why the idea of SANDAG making a deal with the Navy to build a Grand Central Station made no sense to me because a PPP is a Public Private Partnership and SANDAG is a public agency. I think the Navy is forging ahead to make a deal with private developers.


Don Wood May 19, 2021 at 4:05 pm

He did, but first they needed Pete Wilson to ram a special purpose bill through congress. That hasn’t happened here, to my knowledge. I think the Navy brass thought they would just rinse and repeat the NBC deal, but forgot it requires a change in the law, which requires projects like this to go through the regular congressional military budget process. Manchester built the new Navy HQ in return for the Navy upzoning the rest of the site for hotels and office buildings. Then he sold his part of the project to another REIT for more than a billion dollars.


Geoff Page May 19, 2021 at 8:20 pm

Thanks for the additional information, Don.


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