News


Google wins Hangar One lease

Feds select Google to lease Hangar One, Moffett airfield

Preservationists can rejoice -- Hangar One's restoration appears imminent. Google has won a lease deal for the massive hangar and operation of Moffett Field's runways.

NASA and the General Services Administration announced today, Feb. 10, that Google's Planetary Ventures, LLC has been selected for a long-term lease of Hangar One and the Moffett Airfield. The subsidiary of Google has already partnered with NASA in the past, and is now set to build a 1.1 million-square-foot campus on aanother portion of Moffett soon.

The Google subsidiary proposes to use Hangar One for the "research, testing, assembly, and development" of emerging technologies related to space, aviation, rovers and robotics, according to GSA's Jackeline Stewart. She adds that Moffett's large Hangars Two and Three "will be used for similar purposes."

Though lease negotiations remain, the announcement appears to mark the end of a long battle to preserve the historic 200-foot tall home of the U.S.S Macon, a landmark which the Navy had planned to tear down at one point because of toxic lead, asbestos and PCBs in its frame paint and siding. It now sits as a bare skeletal frame in need of siding job costing more than $40 million.

"With GSA and NASA's announcement today, Hangar One has been saved and will be restored and rehabilitated, honoring its place in South Bay history and community identity," said Congresswoman Anna Eshoo in a statement. "Moffett Federal Airfield has and will continue to play a critical role as home to the 129th Rescue Wing" -- the arm of the National Guard that conducts regular rescue missions in and around California and in war zones.

Google's Planetary Ventures will be required to "re-skin and protect Hangar One," according to the GSA, and operate the federal airfield for limited aircraft use, with a requirement to take on the airfield's financial burden once said by NASA to be over $7 million a year.

Google plans to build a 90,000 square-foot building on the airfield, Stewart said. "Although not required by the RFP, Planetary Ventures, LLC proposal is to make that space available for a public benefit educational/museum/incubator use at no cost to the operator of that facility," she said in an email. That could be a major benefit to the local community, said Lenny Siegel, a Save Hangar One Committee leader and board member for a group aiming to build an air and space museum in Hangar One, the Earth, Air and Space West Educational Foundation.

With Google making plans for a total of nearly 1 million square feet of space in Hangars One, Two and Three, and maybe more on adjacent land, it could mean even more explosive Google job growth than the city was bracing for previously, which could mean higher demands on local highways and the city's already stretched housing supply, Siegel noted.

"There's an unquantified opportunity for economic growth," Siegel said. "If they do a deal with University Associates (a consortium of colleges that has leased adjacent NASA land for stalled campus project) they may build housing. It's the kind of thing that needs an environmental study. We've talked about all the commuter traffic issues around Google and Google is aware. It's not like Google isn't trying to do anything about it. My hope is they won't try to put too much employment out there."

Google will also be required to upgrade the NASA golf course at the north end of the runways and rehabilitate the large wooden World War II-era hangars (Hangars Two and Three) on the northeast side of the airfield, according to the GSA.

The competitive bidding process Google went through is seen as a response to criticisms from republican senator Chuck Grassley and others that NASA displayed favoritism to Google in leasing Hangar 211 on Moffett federal airfield to Google's executives for their private jets -- without allowing others bid on it.

"This result wasn't just from the alleged cozy relationship between Google and the White House," Siegel said of Google's winning bid for Moffett and Hangar One. "Google -- for better or worse -- has a lot of money, and can throw it around. The competitive result clears NASA Ames of any favoritism charges."

The deal will apparently save taxpayer money that would have gone to operating an airfield, restoring Hangar One, and possibly operating the NASA golf course which ran up a $184,000 deficit in 2013, according to NASA documents.

"The agreement announced today will benefit the American taxpayer and the community around Moffett," said NASA administrator Charles Bolden in a statement. "It will allow NASA to focus its resources on core missions, while protecting the federal need to use Moffett Field as a continued, limited-use airfield."

Siegel said concerns remain that the airfield could be opened up to new air traffic from private business jets, though a GSA press release refers to "maintaining the status quo" in regards to airfield use. Google executives now lease Moffett's Hangar 211 for a fleet of private aircraft, but their lease expires this summer. It is unclear whether the fleet would remain at Moffett.

As it prepares to enter lease negotiations, Google had little to say about its proposals except a brief statement: "We are delighted to move ahead in the selection process and we look forward to working with both GSA and NASA to preserve the heritage of Moffett Federal Airfield."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nick Fortis
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm

From Saratoga. Retirement Community to be exact.

Nice to see that private enterprise can get it very nicely right now and again.

Nick F. w/bride Nancy 51 yr resident area code 94022 (Hills & Univ ave.) until SRC.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Google Field?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 11, 2014 at 11:28 am

Congratulations on the award of a contract that will upgrade the airfield and Hanger 1. This has been a major issue and concern and now here is a protection in place. Congratulations to Google, and hopefully a small portion will be allocated to the Air and Space Museum who have worked very hard to help protect this valuable asset.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2014 at 11:57 am

This appears to be good news. It's been sad driving by that skeleton every night on my way home from work.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dennis Anderson
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm

HOORAY for Google. I grew up driving past Moffett Field in World War II and remember looking wondrously at those huge hangars then and for 30 years after until we moved to Hawai'i. Google seems to have an instinct for doing the right thing, especially impressive since the key players are not Peninsula natives. HOORAY for Google.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marc Dantonio
a resident of Addison School
on Feb 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm

While all of you are crowing about how GOOD this news is... I have to say, apparently you are Low Information Voters whose opinions are formed only by the last good thing you have heard...
Did any of you [portion removed] recall that "Kind" and "Benevolent" [genuflect] Google was ripping us all off for its sweetheart FUEL Deal for its FLEET of 10+ corporate aircraft? Yeah you remember THAT dont you? Ahh SURE you do! That was where Sir Gay of Brin and Larry "Great White" Page were flying people to Tahiti and on corporate junkets using YOUR TAX DOLLARS to subsidize a vast majority of the fuel costs... [portion removed] "But that was the leasing corporation that runs the jets not google!"... Well to help turn on whats left of filament life in your overtaxed bulb-heads, the leasing corporation is owned by? Good class you are listening! Yes, its OWNED by Google! So... THAT is allll ok with you? Google was paying a SUBSIDIZED (read that: paid out of YOUR wallets) fuel price that was under $2 a gallon for aviation fuel while the rest of the country is paying around $8 a gallon. Sounds 'fair' does it? I guess only if you work at Google.
The news article spin is as expected. Google Good! Others BAD...
Well hey here is a prediction: Google will end up owning MOffet field and it will become another Google campus..The 'renovation' to the hangar? You are saying how great this is... But what will be INSIDE the hangar? I can tell you: OFFICES. Lets see in the words of their spokesfools it might sound a little something like this:

"With Google's acquisition of the Hangar and Moffet Field, the company shows that its pride runs deep by preserving the heritage and historic value of a landmark that has meant so much to so many. Google's re-purposed approach will preserve "The Hangar" while providing valuable new and unique office spaces for the bright minds within the company. Sergei and Larry ask you to join them in celebrating our history and look forward with them on this new adventure."

Do I have that about right? Meanwhile the historic nature will be trashed and Moffet field will belong to Google. How long before its called "Google Metro-plex Jetport"?

With their acquisition of the robotics companies, Google will also be bringing to life, the Skynet of Terminator fame for all we know... Perhaps Google Net IS skynet... IT just doesnt know it because its not self-aware yet. Give it time...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marc Dantonio
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Oh and I did I neglect to mention that Google will likely soon own that Golf Course too? Yeah thats right, that golf course 'renovation' will be in exchange for eventual ownership... More pie for Google. Just have long memories folks. Have lonnnnng memories... Betcha Nancy 'old hag' Pelosi will be using that 'jetport' as her personal goto. Just find out how much of that money is really YOURS and not theirs. Bet the answers will surprise you...

Hmmm so lets see: Google Metro-Plex Jetport and Corporate Resort. Maybe part of the Hangar will have a Casino...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Cedric - I have been attending the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meetings on the clean-up of the Moffett Field Site. This place is a super fund site with toxic chemicals in the ground. You all can attend a meeting at the Mountain View Senior Center, 266 Escuela Avenue, Mountain View on Thursday, February 13 at 7:00 PM. There are numerous projects in process for the clean-up activity. The number of government agencies that participate in the clean-up are both local and federal agencies. A lot of money has already been spent on the clean-up that still has remaining issues. The government has run out of money for this effort.
Both private and public agencies - NASA have benefitted from Google provision of satellite derived information.
As to the golf course it is sitting on contaminated land, there were little foxes that could not move due to contaminated water.
If you look at Treasure Island and other super fund sites in the bay area you will see that they are all hampered in their attempts to make valuable property useful.
Keeping this as an air field is the best outcome for everyone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Here's a link to one of those Tahiti excursions. My hat's off to anyone who works that hard to push the frontiers of science and engineering.

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Domadiful
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm

@musical

Hats off and wallets open! Treat them as equals and quit giving them tax breaks. Social Darwinism in SV needs to ease up.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Tax breaks are carefully designed to generate even more taxes. Local revenues are certainly going up. Governments are not as dumb as you think.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stretch
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:56 am

Thank you, Google (and also GSA and NASA) for saving this beautiful blimp hangar. I just hope that the tradition of a "holiday" tree at the top will continue. I hated seeing the skeleton last time I was in Palo Alto. I spent a lot of time at Moffett while my father was an active Marine, and the hangar was always a landmark and a reminder. Thank you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:29 am

The flight plans/runway use operation seems ill defined. I know Google has a "fleet" of aircraft. Can Google now let their buddies and business partners fly into and out of Moffett? Will there be any regulation or limitations on such flights??
This seems like there will be a major impact on thousands of Silicon Valley households in the airspace. I used to live in Sunnyvale, a larger city than Palo Alto, for example, and we could SEE every flight that landed at Moffett although we lived in the center of the city (not right by 101/237/the runway).
Since Google is so close with Obama, will he return to flying in and out of Moffett? I would actually prefer that to his typical method of shutting down SFO whenever he flies in/out for luxury fundraisers.
President Clinton used to fly into Moffett and that was an appropriate use of the airfield for the President and I recall minimum to zero impact.


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