News

Google execs offer to save Hangar One

Leaders willing to pay 100 percent of cost to restore hangar in return for long-term lease

'Why doesn't Google pay for it?' has been the sort of comment often made by those frustrated by the years-long struggle to save landmark Hangar One at Moffett Field. But on Thursday it was announced that the principals of Google are willing to do just that.

As its toxic siding is stripped off in a Navy-led environmental cleanup, a proposal to restore and lease the 200-foot-tall 1933 icon was publicly announced Thursday night by Ken Ambrose, director of H211 LLC, which runs a fleet of private jets out of Moffett Field for Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, and chairman Eric Schmidt.

Ambrose told a subcommittee of the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board that Google's leaders would pay 100 percent of the cost to restore the hangar and the shell in return for a long-term lease of the hangar for storing the Google leaders' eight planes, including two jumbo jets and several Gulfstream jets.

Preservationists at the meeting were supportive of the proposal as Google's leaders appear to be interested in working with the community for a historically sensitive restoration. Ambrose confirmed that Google's leaders aren't interested in painting a large Google sign on the side. And with plenty of room inside one of the world's largest freestanding structures, Ambrose also said Google's proposed use is "not incompatible" with sharing it or subleasing it for other uses, such as the Moffett Field History Museum and the major air and space museum that preservationists have proposed.

"It appears to be the only thing going, to save the hangar," said Lenny Siegel, a longtime leader of the effort to save Hangar One. A $32 million request from NASA to restore the hangar appears to have little support in Congress, where the proposal was sharply criticized in an Inspector General's report.

Siegel said he has known about the proposal for several months but decided to ask Ambrose to pitch the proposal to the public because it's not been a slam dunk. It has been two months since the proposal was made and despite support from NASA Ames Research Center, where Hangar One is located, there has been no response from NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"They are in radio silence," Ambrose said.

Siegel speculated that the proposal could be seen as a threat to some in Washington, D.C., who want to see the Moffett airfield, where Hangar One sits, sold or surplussed by the federal government. There may also be some concern from the White House about the appearance of doing a favor for President Barack Obama's supporters at Google.

But with half of the toxic laminate siding of Hangar One now stripped off its massive metal skeleton, "I feel a real sense of urgency," Ambrose said. He said there was $12 million dollars worth of scaffolding inside of the hangar. Whether or not it could be reused to restore the hangar "could be the difference" between it being financial feasible or not, he said.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2011 at 8:19 am

There are costs associated with restoring the hanger, and costs associated with maintaining the hanger for the foreseeable future, and there are lost opportunity costs for not tearing it down and using the land for some other purpose. While the Google founders’ offer is tempting, and a welcome gesture, it would pay to do a full cost/benefit analysis of the hanger for the next thirty years before accepting their offer, only to find that the public is straddled with future costs that they (Google, or other Silicon Valley execs) are not willing to fund.

Using it as a working hanger for a working airline seems like a good use, for a while. But what happens if Google moves to India, or China? Coming up with some long-term uses for the structure that would allow for larger community participation would be the best idea.

Having been to a fantastic company party in one of the hangers once, the structure offers all sorts of possibilities for various activities where possibly up to five thousand people might be involved. There also is the possibility of creating some sort of “office park” inside this structure, although that might be less desirable than a permanent memorial to the aerospace industry and the Navy, which have been a part of Santa Clara country for a long time.


Like this comment
Posted by Henry
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 9, 2011 at 11:00 am

This is great news!

Does this mean that they will stop the work to remove/destroy the irreplacable windows (curved, handmade) and the destruction of the outer skin? With someone willing to pay the costs, there may be feasible options that were not considered.


Like this comment
Posted by MEA
a resident of Woodside
on Dec 9, 2011 at 11:07 am

In the end this facility should have a public use and not a solely private use . I would hope this plan to save the Hanger wont result in the privatization of this public icon. I would support this whole heartedly as long as public access is maintained. If this is to become the private playground for Google execs then we should politely decline the offer. Do no harm.


Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 9, 2011 at 11:10 am

If Google restores it, they will forever be MY homepage...it's an amazing piece of local history. If that hangar could get back up to shape, they could do many things in there to bring in income to assist in it's upkeep.

For one thing, bring back airshows. We miss those. You could do a huge Christmas fair like the Dickens fair on the Wharf in SF. Make a welcome center, encourage more aircraft to land. Volleyball tournaments would be fun. The Eureka is a cool piece of that scenery now...tie it all in.

A clever entrepreneur could make quite a success of that property!


Like this comment
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

I don't think in the era of Bill Hewlett or David Packard, they would have allowed HP's company planes be housed in such a beloved public landmark. As much as I applaud Google for taking steps to preserve and save the Moffett Field Hanger, it truly sours the deal to think their isn't a more philanthropic idea coming out of them than to use it for their own purpose. I can only imagine, with Google's continued support, the amazing use opportunity for that building. They have an opportunity to really step up. Look what happened to the Ferry Bldg.....not saying it is what the community would want in this situation. But, thousands of people and small business owners make use of it every single day. If they are willing to gift money to save it.........couldn't they go one step beyond?


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2011 at 11:32 am

@ MEA - the hangar has never been a "public use" facility. It's either been part of the Navy or the Federal Government.

If Google doesn't pay - the restoration will not happen. No one else is willing to fund it....goodbye Hangar 1.

Read the article again, Google would only use a portion (leased, NASA would still own it) of the hangar. The rest of the hangar can be leased to other parties.


Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2011 at 11:33 am

How many people can look this gift horse in the mouth and find cavities or unsightly stains?

This is a win-win - Google gets use of it, and the rest of us get an icon restored with some promise of future public use. If all the nay-sayers are willing to donate oh, say, $1m each, we should be able to turn down the generous offer from Google and still save this landmark.

Who will be the first to write that big check? It's awful quiet out there, except for the squeaking of ungrateful readers - get over it!


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2011 at 11:42 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

For all you fringe liberal types, this setup is an example of how a real democracy works...I see Google GIVING BACK to the community for the use of Moffett Field for several years and more years to come.

For the GREENIES out there, LTA aircraft are the way you could get the most out of hydrocarbon fuels..and an electrical motor linked to storage and PVs mounted on top of the airship is not impossible NOW. That means hangers that are existing NOW could become hot properties.

This project is an example of something that is doable RIGHT NOW and should not be linked to the other FAILED " Father of Lies " projects.

A side benefit: The SFBA has way too many GA airports. Getting rid of the " rich mans toy airfields " will eliminate the types of crashed aircraft like the one in EPA.


Like this comment
Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I still think it should be painted like a Twinkie.


Like this comment
Posted by Hangar One Hater
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Hangar One is one of the ugliest structures on the Peninsula. I'd be a lot happier if it was removed and we were able to open up a new vistas to see the Bay.


Like this comment
Posted by HangarOneFan
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm

"How many people can look this gift horse in the mouth and find cavities or unsightly stains?

This is a win-win - Google gets use of it, and the rest of us get an icon restored with some promise of future public use. If all the nay-sayers are willing to donate oh, say, $1m each, we should be able to turn down the generous offer from Google and still save this landmark.

Who will be the first to write that big check? It's awful quiet out there, except for the squeaking of ungrateful readers - get over it!"

Well said Paul!


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

C P Dad, Paul and the_punnisher, you have it right. There is an anti-war group that wants Hangar One gone because it is a highly visible reminder of local military function. These are the same folk why pursued the toxic claim in spite of the fact that there was ZERO chance of any harm to the biosphere from the runoff from the hangar. There was no benefit from skinning the hangar. At best it was thirty three million down the rat hole to pacify a few articulate enemies of our military.


Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 9, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I'm with The Punnisher, Walter, Paul and Dad...that hangar is a rich part of our local history, and should be preserved. I don't care who uses it, as long as it's allowed to remain and perhaps be designated as a historical landmark. Hell, if it weren't for companies like Google being located in this area, half of these people couldn't be whining from the comfort of their vastly overpriced homes. How much are THEY giving back?


Like this comment
Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm

We should also thank Google for saving a historic homonym. We are losing them at a frightening rate.


Like this comment
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm

How about a casino.


Like this comment
Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Thank you, Google guys, for offering to save an important part of my childhood, where my father was stationed in the 50's, where I went to airshows and something that, when I fly into San Jose, reminds me that I am home!


Like this comment
Posted by bill g
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2011 at 5:01 pm

A few comments, one of them raised in the first blog above:

In order to avoid another HSR disaster, a cost/benefit analysis should be made of the entire site, not just the hangar's use. Will Google's private funding be permanent?

Who maintains the landing field itself for all the supposed air traffic? Google? Us taxpayers? There will be a considerable annual cost for lights, Federal oversight of the control tower and its staffing, maintenance of the landing strip and real property outside of the hangar, and any safety issues arising because of the presence of persons on site. Read liability insurance.


Like this comment
Posted by yeah for hangar one
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 9, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Hello

If we tear down hangar one, we are one step closer to having the air field sold off to private interests and it becoming a commercial facility, most likely for cargo. I am sure all those who are for the demolition of hanger one will just LOVE those cargo plane flying low over Palo Alto and other towns all night long (NOT!).


Like this comment
Posted by Moffett One
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm

The whole of Moffett Field is up for grabs because NASA is moving out and back to Greenbelt, Maryland. Will the GOOGLE guys buy the whole airfield?

The GOOGLE fly boys and their eight planes take off right over my house, they are worse than the noisy CHP helicopters.


Like this comment
Posted by yeah for hangar one
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm

@ Moffett One

Well, if the air field becomes commercial, cargo planes and all, it will be many more than 8 planes taking off above our heads. Just saying.


Like this comment
Posted by IDriveBy
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Larry, Sergey, and Eric are spending their personal fortunes as a group, because they, like so many of us who share the Valley with them, didn't want an a piece of history to disappear.

Spending $10 million dollars a piece, or more, is more generous than any one else that has posted on this board. It was amazing when the reporter asked well how much, and Ken leaned forward, smiled and said 100%. This is no game, they are committed! It's really happening, if DC will allow it. NASA HQ is so tied up in knots that they won't let them help, so it seems.

They have offered to work with an adjoining proposed center who is also working with the Moffett History Museum. Those of us that went to the meeting the other night heard this discussed as well.

They may have been luckier than I in their business's life, but I love that they as individuals care about the history and community they in.

Cheers!


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm

@ Moffet 1: We could have the Navy return and run their daily 2 shifts of P3's instead.

Clearly you have no idea how much better it is now than compared to less than 20 years ago.


Like this comment
Posted by Yes!
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm

This is why private business > government. Takes years or is impossible to secure funding from NASA. Google can do this with a press conference.

Thank you Google :)


Like this comment
Posted by Barack Hussein Obama
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm

"Greed is Good" - Gordon Gekko
Let's sell off all Government lands and outsource all Government services so that the U.S. Government becomes a private corporation and only becomes responsible to major stockholders. God bless America and our corporate investors.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

If the US government were to become a private corporation it would be responsible to the contracting authority which would still be the public. Another of your great ideas shot down, Barack.


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