Southern California Logistics Airport Puts Victorville on the Map
By: Keith Metzler, assistant city manager, city of Victorville, California
The 2,500-acre airport has hundreds of acres available for aircraft storage. Photos courtesy of the city of Victorville
Redevelopment of the former George Air Force Base as a world-class aerospace services hub has spurred additional industrial development there.
LOCATED 90 MILES northeast of Los Angeles, Victorville, California’s three industrial parks — and a proposed fourth — have attracted nationally and internationally recognized companies to conduct manufacturing, warehousing and aerospace-related services. Three of these parks are being master planned and developed through a public-private partnership between the city of Victorville and Stirling Capital Investments as Global Access Victorville.
This 8,500-acre multimodal freight transportation hub is supported by extensive air, ground and rail connections. It includes the Southern California Logistics Airport, a 2,500-acre cargo and aviation facility; the Southern California Logistics Centre, a 2,500-acre commercial and industrial complex entitled for 60 million square feet of development; and the planned Southern California Rail Complex, which will be a 3,500-acre intermodal complex featuring rail-served facilities. Another facility, the Foxborough Industrial Park, currently offers direct rail access. To date, an estimated 5 million square feet of industrial space has been constructed within Victorville’s industrial parks.
Global Access Victorville, an 8,500-acre multimodal hub, is made up of the Southern California Logistics Airport (upper left), the Southern California Logistics Centre (bottom) and the planned Southern California Rail
Complex (lower right).
The city’s core assets — a large skilled labor pool, affordable land, a robust multimodal transportation network and an ideal climate — have positioned the city as a highly desired location for industrial development. As a result, an estimated 60 percent of all goods moving into and out of Southern California travel through Victorville.
Carriers such as Cargolux, Lufthansa, Volga-Dnepr Airlines, FedEx and the U.S. armed forces have utilized the Southern California Logistics Airport’s (SCLA’s) state-of-the-art facility for timely, cost-effective goods movement. From 1999 to present, SCLA has received more than 15,310 tons of air cargo because of its proximity to the Southern California goods movement corridor and its ideal location — beyond the region’s worst traffic, but with convenient access to the entire western U.S. — for expanded and dedicated air cargo services.
From Air Base to Logistics Airport
George Air Force Base was commissioned in 1941 as part of the U.S. Army Air Corps’ buildup prior to the nation’s entry into World War II. The base consisted of a 2,200-acre airfield with barracks, administrative buildings, maintenance shops and hangars. Active throughout World War II, the Korean War and the Cold War, the base was decommissioned in December 1992 as part of the federal government’s Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) process.
The city’s plans to redevelop the air base as a logistics airport and industrial parks began with a fast-tracked environmental cleanup. Infrastructure upgrades and improvements followed, including the extension of the main runway from 1,050 feet to 13,050 feet to accommodate international cargo jets. The area was designated as a foreign trade zone and four new hangars were built. In 2000, the city entered into a partnership with master developer Stirling Capital Investments. (In 2004, Runway 17/35 was extended again, to 15,059 feet, making it the second-longest public use runway in North America.)
The first major industrial transaction came in February 2001 with the agreement to locate the High Desert Power Project, Southern California’s first new major power plant in more than a decade, at SCLA. That same year, several additional large ground leases and build-to-suit projects were secured.
Over the next 14 years, companies such as General Electric Co. (2002), Newell Rubbermaid (2007), Leading Edge Aviation Services (2007), Pratt & Whitney (2007), FedEx (2007), Victorville Aerospace Resources and Technologies (2007) and Plastipak Packaging Inc. (2009) chose to locate operations in Victorville.
Jet engines are repaired in a hanger at SCLA.
SCLA is one of the nation’s largest logistics airports. Its lack of commercial airline traffic, 360 days of “severe clear” weather, land capacity for expansive facilities and utilities are key factors that have attracted aerospace clients such as those listed above, as well as Boeing Co., Pacific Aviation Group and Pacific Aerospace. Aerospace sectors currently doing business at SCLA include nonscheduled passenger charter operations, aircraft storage, aircraft parts warehousing, jet engine testing, flight testing, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) pilot training, aircraft painting and maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) services.
State-of-the-art hangars of all sizes accommodate projects ranging from aircraft MRO to the painting of large, wide-body aircraft, including 747-800s, 777-300s and the 787 Dreamliner. Many of SCLA’s 25-acre sites are available for corporate aviation development, and sites can be combined to create 100-acre or larger properties. All sites have direct runway and taxiway access. The airport also has hundreds of acres available for aircraft storage.
Victorville’s Foxborough Industrial Park already offers direct rail access to Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s main line. When the Southern California Rail Complex is built out, goods will be able to travel from there to most of the Western U.S. by rail within 24 hours, via the BNSF and Union Pacific lines.
SCLA features two intercontinental runways that offer the heaviest aircraft direct, nonstop access to any destination in the world. Both runways are currently undergoing upgrades to accommodate even larger aircraft and increased traffic, in response to the industrial growth at and around SCLA. Runway 3/21 is a 9,138-foot crosswind runway that was originally constructed in the 1940s to accommodate lightweight aircraft used for flight training. The upgrade project now underway will reconstruct Runway 3/21 with full-strength pavement, including asphalt shoulders, designed to meet Federal Aviation Administration criteria. The renovation also includes upgrades of the drainage, lighting and ancillary utilities, as needed. The FAA is funding 90 percent of the project; SCLA is funding the remaining 10 percent. In addition, Victorville recently approved an $800,000 contract to begin the design of reconstruction on the second runway, Runway 17/35, which will help rehabilitate the asphalt portion of the runway.
In November 2014, Victorville announced an expansion of its electrical services and industrial wastewater treatment at SCLA, including a wholesale distribution load interconnection facilities agreement with Southern California Edison Co. that will enable Victorville to provide electricity to additional large-scale commercial users and the issuance of a pretreatment permit to Leading Edge Aviation Services by Victorville’s water district.
Room to Grow
In 2013, the Boeing Co. signed a 100,000-square-foot, $1.8 million three-year lease at SCLA to co-locate three of its growing operating divisions: Boeing Capital Corp., Boeing Airplane-on-Ground (AOG) Services and Boeing Flight Test. In addition to Boeing’s growing activity at SCLA since 2003, other large space commitments include Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s 2010 completion of its 850,000-square-foot manufacturing and warehouse facility at SCLA, which serves the company’s entire West Coast demand, and Mars Inc.’s 2011 relocation of its refrigerated candy warehouse operation to approximately 500,000 square feet of building space at SCLA.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s 850,000-square-foot manufacturing and warehouse facility at SCLA, which was completed in 2010, serves the company’s entire West Coast demand.
In June 2014, SCLA’s developed industrial space was nearly 100 percent leased. This milestone signaled the completion of the city’s first-phase industrial development plan and a shift in focus to identify build-to-suit opportunities for new users, both inside and outside the airfield fence.
Victorville announced in December 2014 that Stirling Capital Investment had received entitlement to begin development of a new industrial building on 22 acres at SCLA. The new structure will comprise approximately 450,000 square feet, with potential uses for warehousing, distribution, assembly and manufacturing.
Southern California Logistics Center
Additional development also is taking place at the Southern California Logistics Centre (SCLC), which is located immediately adjacent to SCLA. SCLC offers a wide variety of new warehouse and distribution facilities, ranging from 2,000 square feet to over 1 million square feet. The 2,500-acre industrial complex is entitled for 60 million square feet of diverse development. To date, roughly 3 million square feet has been developed at SCLC. As noted earlier, SCLC is a part of the Global Access master plan and the city’s public/private partnership with Stirling Capital Investments.
Major tenants include United Furniture Industries (UFI), Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Newell Rubbermaid, Red Bull and Mars Inc. SCLC features a rail connection, international air cargo facilities and hangars, corporate office campuses, biomedical and technology centers, aviation maintenance facilities, an executive jet travel/business center and recreational amenities.
Foxborough Industrial Park
Located in the southeast part of the city of Victorville, the Foxborough Industrial Park has been developed as a manufacturing and warehouse logistics operations location. Since 2000, Foxborough has provided direct rail access to Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s (BNSF’s) main line via a publicly owned rail spur. Foxborough currently provides an estimated 2.3 million square feet of industrial space on roughly 200 acres. Its largest tenants include the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., ConAgra Foods, Nutro Products Inc. and Church & Dwight Co.
Southern California Rail Complex
The Southern California Rail Complex (SCRC) is a planned 3,500-acre intermodal and multimodal rail and container storage complex that will feature an additional 60 million square feet of planned commercial development. It will provide relief and additional capacity to the region’s congested intermodal rail facilities and seaports. Master-planned rail development will include a 430-acre intermodal yard, a 585-acre rail-served multimodal facility; 1,000 acres of rail-served industrial sites; and the ability to process more than 1.5 million lifts (movements of containers from truck to rail or rail to truck) annually. The SCRC will be developed as a public/private partnership with Stirling Capital Investments.
The next phase of Victorville’s industrial growth plan involves attracting build-to-suit tenants to SCLA, SCLC, Foxborough Industrial Park and the SCRC, to continue the development of this growing industrial and aerospace hub. With its pro-business climate and robust utilities and intermodal offerings, Victorville is serving as the High Desert’s industrial hub and bringing further investment to the city.