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 another 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 a 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 that 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."

Though several organizations had expressed interest in leasing the entire airfield -- including two groups looking to cater to the private space industry -- only one other company paid the $500,000 to have their proposal considered, according to a Feb. 10 NASA memo. The unnamed second bidder is described as "a well-respected company with a record of successful projects" but made a proposal that fell short in meeting a "significant number of minimum requirements," with finances that would be "stretched" by restoration costs. On the other hand, Planetary Ventures exceeded all of NASA's requirements, proposed the "immediate re-siding of Hangar One," "significant rental payments" and had the "financial guarantee" of its parent company, Google.

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 requiring a $1.5 million payment, 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."

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3 people like this
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm

As a long time member of the Save Hanger One Committee (SHOC) I am pleased to hear this.

3 people like this
Posted by reader
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Konrad - not quite so vexed about Google influence? EPC post. Yin/Yang

3 people like this
Posted by Hooray!
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 10, 2014 at 5:20 pm lets get started on that bus, er ah, (heh-heh) I mean construction supply bridge we need over Stevens Creek.

3 people like this
Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

When does the name change to Google Field?

Kidding aside, I think it is great that hangar one will be saved, along with 2 and 3 preserved, but I'm still concerned about Mountain View selling their soul to Google in the big picture.

We shall see.....

3 people like this
Posted by Yay
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Overjoyed!! Thank you Google! Thank you SHOC!

3 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:24 am

For some reason Google is starting to scare the hell out of me.

3 people like this
Posted by Garrettt
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I think this is great, Hanger One is saved, Moffett Field has money coming in for its upkeep, Ames/NASA and Google have worked together on projects. Google is big in space research which last time I checked Ames still does.

3 people like this
Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm

AC is a registered user.

I understand the prospect of more Google ownership/leasing being scary to some.

But with all the new space that Google will be allowed to use, I'd like to see them build their own corporate housing developments on some of that land, which they can easily use as a perk to their own employees without driving up the rents of all the other/older Mountain View residents.

There are possibilities. I hope they happen.

3 people like this
Posted by Humanitarian Air Logistics
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm

It is great news that Hangar's one, two and three will be refurbished and that an aerospace museum will be built. However, there are still unanswered questions regarding the NASA lease to H211 and a sister company also operating from Moffett called Blue City Holdings. Can anyone remember hearing about Blue City Holdings having undergone a thorough review by NASA as promised by its leadership for any company that is allowed to operate from there?

There are several pending Freedom of Information Act requests that are finally being processed after appeals were filed. Those appeals have cleared the way for more documents to be released which will hopefully clear this matter up. We are also hopeful that with this contract award, Google and its executives will open up a new chapter at Moffett. We have always believed they should play a role there provided it was fair and transparent.

3 people like this
Posted by Mitch Cumstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I'm feeling lucky!

Really. There is no single icon more closely-tied to our fair city. That alone is uber-awesome. Restoring other key Moffett resources and cementing the tech foundation of this city... that's more than just icing on the cake.

Now if we could only get those regular F-18 flights back... :)

3 people like this
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm

AC said, "I'd like to see them build their own corporate housing developments on some of that land". They may well do it. Remember that their proposal to build housing in North Bayshore was prevented by the General Plan. At the last moment, potential housing use was eliminated, to my sorrow.

3 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm

So they are required to refurbish Hangers 2 and 3 as well. Does that mean they will be using those too or just fixing them as a part of the deal? Who uses them now? Just curious

3 people like this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Housing out by a airfield, they aren't leasing all of Moffett Field, only the airfield and hanger portion, housing out there would not be a good mix.

Housing at North Bayshore was never welcomed, industry and business were the primary goal of that area. One time factories could have been built but didn't happen. The computer industry grew up in Mountain View, they just didn't move here, the whole idea was born here.

New York City-Banking.
Mountain View-Silicon Chip

All cities made famous by their industry.

Google leasing part of Moffett Field is good thing.

3 people like this
Posted by The world as we hve known it is changing once more
a resident of The Crossings
on Feb 12, 2014 at 1:29 am

Google Field?

How about GooglePort?

I wonder how their Doodles will convey the story as the work progresses.

I wonder if other private planes will be using the GooglePort for 49er home games.

3 people like this
Posted by Rich
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm

To Ron, Hangars Two and Three are used in various parts by the 129'th Air National Guard, NASA for storage, the people who do restoration for the Moffett museum, and some others. About 1/4 of one of them used to be used by Airship Ventures :-( and there were a couple of other (much smaller) airships in there.

To those proposing housing, can you imagine how cool it would be to have an apartment with windows near the top of Hangar One?

3 people like this
Posted by yay
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm

The area might be desirable for housing, but not the location given the groundwater and soil contamination, plus the nearby toxic plume. Web Link.

3 people like this
Posted by Weird Mountain View
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm

it's good news that hangar one will continue to exist and delight the eye and spirit as an architectural and historic wonder, but, I do have a couple questions...

does absolute power corrupt absolutely?
has history ever been wrong?

3 people like this
Posted by Konrad M. Sosnow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I have mixed feelings.

I am glad to see that Hanger One restored .
I have been a member of SHOC (Save Hanger One Committee for years and as a team we have been working on this.

The Navy should have restored Hanger One. If you break it, you fix it!

There is no free lunch.
Google will increase its already huge impact on Mountain View.
Here is a letter I wrote yesterday to the Mountain View Voice:

Environmental Planning Commission Conflict of Interest

Rachel Grossman, Real Estate Project Executive at Google is the Chair of the Mountain View Environmental Planning Commission.

The Commission has the authority and responsibility to, among other things, Formulate and recommends plans for Mountain View, including the General Plan for the physical development of the City.

Will Rachel Grossman, a Google executive, recommend plans that are in the best interest of Google, her employer, or Mountain View?

Will Rachel Grossman, a Google executive, attempt to sway the other six members of the Environmental Planning Commission to support Google’s wishes?

How much of Rachel Grossman’s compensation at Google will be a function of how she directs the Environmental Planning Commission to support Google’s wishes?

Should we change the name to Google’s Environmental Planning Commission?


3 people like this
Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 13, 2014 at 1:33 am

Thank You Google!

Now please fix Google WiFi, but please keep the "crippled" current service up and running until you come up with a fix as I can at least check my email and do research online.

Also, please include a plan to use the airfield and surrounding area as a staging area for FEMA in case of an emergency (i.e. large earthquake). The plan MUST also include use of the airfield for evacuation by small private aircraft as it's only fair that the residents of Mountain View can also use the airfield to get out and not just the exec's at Google.

3 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 14, 2014 at 11:05 am

The most important thing to Mountain View is how much air traffic can we expect. I have not read anything about who will be using the airport other than Google. I am hoping that we will not see a lot of traffic in and out of the airport at all hours. We need to make sure that this does not happen.

3 people like this
Posted by ac
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 15, 2014 at 9:32 pm

The government was great at losing money. Anyone taking over should not. Ferry boats and delivery planes may become common. Did anyone every promise no airplanes? Did I read someone thinks apts off the runway would be a good thing?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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