In the mid-1920s, the City of San Diego hoped to strengthen its economic ties with the military, and offered more than 200 acres of land to the Navy at the north end of San Diego Bay to entice it to move the Recruit Training Station from San Francisco.
Throughout its 70-year history as a military base, the mission of Naval Training Center (NTC), San Diego, had been to provide primary, advanced and specialized training for members of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Naval Reserve. In support of that mission, NTC expanded to include 300 buildings with nearly three million square feet of space. In designing the first buildings at the training station, Navy architects adopted the Mission Revival style. Within a few years, harbor improvements deepened the channel and anchorages in San Diego Bay and added 130 acres of filled land to the Naval Training Station, which was later renamed the Naval Training Center. Development of the base occurred in phases, often in direct response to national defense priorities. As a result, there was no comprehensive plan for NTC, and buildings were scattered throughout the base or existed in small clusters. The base eventually expanded to almost 550 acres.
By the early 1990s, San Diego had become home to more than one-sixth of the Navy's entire fleet. San Diego had more than a dozen major military installations, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the local economy with more than 133,000 uniformed personnel and another 30,000 civilians relying on the military for their livelihood.
Contributing to the Economy
In annual payroll alone for both military and civilian personnel, NTC contributed almost $80 million to the San Diego economy, according to the Navy's 1994 budget. Each year, more than 28,000 visitors came to graduations at NTC, and 80 percent of those visitors were from out of town, contributing almost $7 million annually to the local economy. Beyond these payroll and visitor expenditures, the Navy spent an additional $10 million for base operation support contracts.
The end of the Cold War led to military downsizing and the need to close surplus bases. In 1993, the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission slated NTC for eventual closure.
The Navy closed NTC facilities incrementally. As the military functions on the base dwindled, so did the Navy's budget. Fearing that the lack of activity on the base would lead to security problems, the City and Navy entered into a master lease agreement in 1995 allowing the City interim use of 67 acres of the base site. The agreement was later amended to include more than half of the NTC property, with approximately 75 buildings occupied by interim users. These buildings were subleased from the City to various parties including film companies, nonprofit organizations, City departments, and small businesses. In addition, interim leasing allowed the City to maintain the buildings and landscape areas at a higher standard of maintenance than an otherwise decreasing Navy caretaker budget could provide. The Navy officially closed NTC on April 30, 1997, and all military operations ceased.
Naval Training Center Closes Which Includes RTC
NTC Closes The end of the Cold War led to military downsizing and the need to close surplus bases. The federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission eventually slated NTC for closure in 1993.
The Navy closed NTC facilities incrementally with Recruit Training Command closing in 1995, Service School Command in December 1996 and many smaller tenant commands closed or moved during these years. The Navy officially closed NTC on April 30, 1997, and ceased all military operations.
1994-1996 - City's NTC Reuse Committee, with input from interested citizens, makes recommendations resulting in a draft Reuse Plan.
Nov. 1996 - City Council adopts draft Reuse Plan as the City's preferred alternative.
March 1996 - Voters approve changing designation of NTC property from future urbanizing to planned urbanizing.
April 1997 - The Navy closes NTC and all active military uses of the base concludes.
May 1997 - City Redevelopment Agency adopts the NTC Redevelopment Project Area.
Dec. 1996-Aug. 1997 - Navy and City prepare joint draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for public review.
Aug. 1997-July 1998 - Navy and City prepare joint Final Draft EIS/EIR.
July 1998 - Navy issues contract for its appraisal of property.
Aug. 1998 - City completes Final Draft Reuse Plan.
Aug. 1998 - City issues Request for Qualifications for master developer/partner.
Oct. 1998 - City Council adopts Reuse Plan and certifies EIS/EIR.
Jan. 1999 - City issues Request for Proposals for master developer/partner.
Feb 1999 - Navy receives draft appraisal from its contractor and allows the City limited review.
Mar. 1999 - Navy signs Record of Decision, Navy's final approval of Reuse Plan and certification of the EIS.
June 1999 - City Council selects master developer/partner.
May 1999 - City submits Economic Development Conveyance application (including business plan and offer to purchase) to Navy.
May-Nov. 1999 - City and Navy negotiate property transfer.
May-Nov. 1999 - City negotiates Disposition and Development Agreement with the master developer.
Mar 2000 - City receives property from the Navy and signs Disposition and Development Agreement with the master developer.
(Facts About Naval Training Center, San Diego, The City of San Diego 1999)
NTC Reuse A large portion of Naval Training Center has been designated as a historical site. It's only fitting that where hundreds of thousands of men and women transitioned from civilians to Sailors and learned advanced training that a museum be set up in this historical site. The city in 1997 set down this vision for the historic core.
Historic Core Development Concept At the north end could be a retail marketplace featuring restaurants, marine-oriented crafts, farmers markets, and other festive retail uses. Along with traditional retailers, uses that combine crafts and manufacturing with retail sales are encouraged. The main body of the Historic Core could be rehabilitated into a variety of commercial uses including offices, small retail uses, and live/work spaces. The NTC headquarters building and its grounds could become the site of a military and maritime museum celebrating San Diego's maritime history and military heritage.
2002 - Five hundred military family housing units are under construction.
Sep 2002 - The first military housing units are completed, Sailors and their families start to move in.
McMillin Companies, the Master Developer for the former Naval Training Center now named "Liberty Station" starts the horizontal improvements for the 350 civilian housing units that will be built.
May 2003 - The NTC Foundation receives approval from the San Diego City Council for loans to advance the reutilization of the Arts, Culture and Civic center now named "Promenade Center."
June 2003 - First family moves into new McMillin constructed home at Liberty Station.