Q & A

Tustin Assistant City Manager Christine Shingleton

The Tustin Marine Corps Air Station will be closed by 1999 or sooner, and Tustin officials are working on plans to develop the property into an area complete with homes, parks, schools and commercial buildings.

The 1,620-acre helicopter base is known for its twin blimp hangers, which have been recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers as the largest wooden frame structures in the world.

Directing the base redevelopment project for Tustin is Assistant City Manager Christine Shingleton.

In a recent interview with Times correspondent Alan Eyerly, Shingleton outlined the planning effort. Q: What are some of the proposed uses for the base property?

A: A big thrust of the plan is to focus on education. We're looking at about a 100-acre learning village, and we do have interest from an educational consortium that's made up of (Saddleback and Rancho Santiago colleges) and a number of other interested organizations.

The existing (Marine) village is like a campus environment. They'd be looking at basically doing a vocational training facility and international village that's going to orient itself to 21st-Century jobs and also to Pacific Rim issues.

There would be language schools, foreign business training and a whole variety of high-technology training. We have a big, 88-acre regional park at one of the hanger locations. The county is interested in developing the park as a historical interpretive center. Their desire is to retain one of the hangers, which is nice.

Basically, the southerly portion of (the base) is oriented toward commercial business, and the residential areas are on the north and east sides of the base.

Q: What is the most difficult aspect of the redevelopment project?

A: I think the biggest challenge is going to be creating the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the development. Most of the infrastructure here is more than 50 years old. These are all major arterial roadway extensions and loop systems that we're proposing, and none of that infrastructure exists now.

The costs are terrific. Roadways and infrastructure like water and sewer could bring our costs up to $200-$300 million.

Q: Are Tustin officials enthusiastic about this project?

A: It's extremely exciting. There are very few opportunities for communities like Tustin to be faced with planning from scratch the reuse of 1,600 acres. And we had it in Tustin with the East Tustin/Tustin Ranch area that's owned by the Irvine Co.

So we get one more shot. And that's really unique.

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