News

NASA Ames ready for liftoff

Giant research park at Moffett will include office space, 1,000 housing units

A 5.6 earthquake was only the second thing to shake City Hall on Tuesday night, after a NASA Ames official announced the agency would be taking bids next year on a massive research park at Moffett Field that will provide homes and office space for private companies, NASA and several colleges.

Michael Marlaire, NASA Ames director of partnerships, said the research park would become "a goldmine for the informal meeting" -- in other words, the casual exchange of ideas -- as college students worked and lived next to employees from NASA and companies like Google.

The first phase of the project could include at least 1,000 units of rental housing on one million square feet, and 200,000 square feet of office space east of the main gate at Moffett along the northern edge of Highway 101. NASA Ames has a list of 800 developers it is reaching out to later this year, and bids are due in March 2008.

A conceptual plan was created in 1998 after several discussions with Sunnyvale and Mountain View. Eventually the project will take up four to five million square feet, with two million square feet as housing. When all is said and done, NASA Ames will add up to 5,000 people at Moffett.

The University of California has expressed serious interest in developing a major Silicon Valley campus at the site, and major announcement are due in the next few months regarding those plans, Marlaire said. The Foothill-De Anza Community College District could also have a presence in the new park.

Marlaire also gave an update on Google's one million square foot campus, slated for the northwest corner of Moffett Field. Google and NASA could finalize an agreement any time, but it's been left up to Google to figure out when the time is right given its business strategy.

Google "has made it clear that it wants 100 units of housing," Marlaire said, in addition to the 1,000 units planned on 23 acres north of Highway 101 just east of Wescoat military housing. But those 100 Google homes are just a "gleam in their eye" at this point, he added.

"The interest is large in building rental housing there," Marlaire said, and includes requests from many organizations.

Research park employees will be given first dibs on the housing, followed by non-NASA federal employees. Local school teachers will be given third priority, he said, and fourth in line is the general public. The units would be as small as 600 square feet, with larger town homes at about 1,200 square feet.

Several colleges already have their foot in the door for space at Moffett Field, Marlaire said. In order to qualify, both schools and businesses must in some way help NASA's larger mission of space exploration, and "we've sent a lot of people packing" who didn't, he said. Private businesses already at NASA Ames include Bloom Energy, an alternative energy company.

To enter the new world at Moffett, organizations are creating limited liability companies. Google, for example, has created Planetary Ventures LLC and universities have created them as well, such as the Carnegie Melon LLC.

Locating in the research park may be relatively costly, Marlaire said, because NASA Ames doesn't enjoy the "economies of scale" that cities do with fire and police services. Being on federal land, NASA has to pay for its own infrastructure. The agency already has met with the city to make use of its recycled water program.

Pushing forward an agenda of privatization in space exploration, NASA's direction under President George W. Bush has been to create "new economies in space," Marlaire said. People like Sergey Brin of Google aren't putting up $30 million of their own money to bring a rover to the moon to fulfill childhood dreams -- "They believe they are going to make a lot of money," Marlaire said.

Comments

Posted by Matt, a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 5, 2007 at 12:32 pm

What kind of environmental review will be required for this project? Who will be the lead agency? Is Moffett Field actually in the jurisdiction of either Mountain View or Sunnyvale?

Will it just get rail-roaded through because it is a Federal project on Federal land?


Posted by Daniel DeBolt, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 6, 2007 at 10:49 am

Daniel DeBolt is a registered user.

I was able to confirm the following yesterday:
An EIS started in 2000 and was finished in 2002 that plans for up to 5000 more people at Moffett.
A memorandum of understanding to establish a research park was signed with Sunnyvale and Mountain View in 1998.
NASA got the input of residents in the late 1990's for this project.

Moffett Field is not within the jurisdiction of either city, though the cities have shown significant political influence int he past. Its unclear if they will be coming back for input as plans are finalized for the first phase. Watch for more articles about this in the coming weeks.


Posted by Matt, a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 6, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Wow, I wonder if NASA can now "sell" those new housing unit credits to neighboring Cities to help them meet their new ABAG goals? I doubt NASA was given any ABAG housing goals. I bet Palo Alto would be willing to buy the credits. Their banter on PaloAltoOnline.com indicates that they are furious over the new ABAG goals.


Posted by Just Another Reader, a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 16, 2007 at 10:06 pm

I like this Worden fellow who runs Ames.


Posted by Joe Taxpayer, a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2007 at 9:24 am

So just how does NASA use taxpayer money to build housing units? Even if they are able to come up with some source of non-appropriated funds, where is it in their chart to become of landlord for public housing? This can't be legal!


Posted by nasawatch.com reader, a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2007 at 1:01 am

Why does the federal government need to build housing when there are apartments for lease all over the South Bay? With the federal subsidization of the units they will probably be three times the cost of a unit just outside the gate.

Just what is Google's contribution to space exploration? Is it a token offering for cheap office space on the taxpayer's dime?


Posted by Hobart Stinson, a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2007 at 11:00 pm

How's the superfund site cleanup coming? Toxins in the soil don't seem to slow down these developers, even right underneath the planned new construction. From Ellis St. a plume of toxins goes under the freeway and under much of the land designated for the business park/housing.

And why is the Google building NOT going in the area designated for the business park, but instead it's going "inside" the NASA gate near Stevens Creek? I suppose Google will provide their own security fence and guards? Anybody know if there are any ground-dwelling owls out there where Google is looking to build?


Posted by Dallas Schwartz, a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2007 at 2:12 pm

This should be looked at as a good thing. All the whining and crying over cutbacks at ARC over the years and here NASA is going to make a major investemnt in the future of not only ARC but in Silicon Valley as a whole and all most of you can do is whine b__ch and complain! It makes me sick! The U.S. needs a vibrant Manned SPace Program, NASA is trying to do something here that will benefit themselves in that respect but also improve the overall situation and add growth to the Valley and the "tree hugging" DO NOTHINGS of the world can only gripe about what they're NOT getting out of this. When was the last time any of you slugs got up off your duffs and tried to contribute instead of taking!?!? More power to NASA & Google on this venture!!! p.s. I'm surprised U.C. is getting involved in this, have they forgotten Silicon Valley is place of Innovation and HARD WORK!!!!


Posted by JS, a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 24, 2007 at 8:01 pm

Right on Dallas. People should really take the time to get educated about these issues rather than just being NIMBY's any time a new development is planned in "their" neighborhood. People forget that the house they live in was built by a developer. So too the theaters, the restaurants, the downtowns, and the shopping centers that we enjoy. Why are people so afraid of change? That's what's wrong with this country and why we are fast losing our competitive edge with the 'developing' countries. And what are we supposed to do, NOT clean up an environmentally contaminated site? How do you think we got such a great municipal golf course and wetlands area at Shoreline? Its amazing how people who say they are all about being 'green' have no clue what that means. True sustainability is living denser, more efficiently, less auto usage, making better use of land --- like building on an old air strip maybe. And enough housing did you say? Are you high?!? You are probably one of those people who have lived in your house for 20 years. You people are killing our town by not providing quality housing for employees to actually live here, spend money, and pay taxes. Stop being ignorant and get educated...for your kids sake!


Posted by Rich, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Does anyone know of any further steps that have been taken on development of Moffett field by Google or anyone else since last November?


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