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SPAWAR Looking For Partners To Replace Aging Old Town Facility

The former Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, or SPAWAR, headquarters c...

Credit: US Navy

Above: The former Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, or SPAWAR, headquarters complex is shown in this undated photo. The Navy has since changed the name of the agency to Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, or NAVWAR.

SPAWAR officials invited contractors and developers to tour its Old Town complex Monday. The Navy is looking for a partner to build a new building.

Parts of the SPAWAR facility date back to World War II. The cavernous warehouses were used to manufacture bombers. Rear Adm. Yancy Lindsey, who commands Navy Region Southwest, concedes the Navy’s high-tech hub has to be rebuilt.

“With 21st Century warfare, electronic systems information technology, cyber warfare stuff, that these folks work on we need some 21st Century facilities,” he said.

Earlier in the year a Navy Inspector General report criticized the poor conditions at SPAWAR, including falling paint, cracked windows, along with bird droppings and insect infestations. The Navy has had to clean-up toxic Trichloroethylene found in one hanger. Workers have complained about the conditions.

In August, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson met with staff behind closed doors.

“He agrees. If we can leverage our assets to meet that need without having to write a multi-million, hundreds of million check, then that’s what we should do,” Lindsey said.

SPAWAR sits on 70 acres of prime real estate, just off Interstate 5, near the airport. The Navy has no budget to replace the complex. The hope is a developer will come up with a mixed-use development concept. The Navy would get a new SPAWAR facility for free or reduced cost, in exchange for a long-term lease.

“That (SPAWAR) facility can be on site. It can be built somewhere else in the San Diego area. We’re not tied to any particular site. But SPAWAR does need to be in San Diego, in close proximity to the fleet,” Lindsey said.

Potential developers were given a presentation from the Navy Monday along with a tour of the facility. SPAWAR has set a Dec. 14 deadline to submit ideas. The Navy would like to have a new option in place for SPAWAR in the next two to three years, Lindsey said.

The Navy's high-tech hub was cited by the Navy Inspector General for poor conditions in the older parts of its complex. Leadership is seeking a creative solution to redevelop the site.

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Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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