Stalled on the Tarmac
Marina’s Airport Business Park waits behind the city’s other housing developments.
Thursday, February 9, 2006
Marina is famously destined to become the largest city on the Monterey County coastline. Thanks to a slew of major development projects—like Marina Heights, University Villages and Cypress Knolls—nearly 4,000 new housing units will be built inside the city limits, mostly on former Fort Ord land.
While some of these projects, like University Villages (currently tied up in court) would create pockets of commercial use, most will be housing.
It’s not hard to figure out why. In today’s real estate market, developers often do somersaults to land City contracts to build new housing units so they can sell them for a pretty profit.
But that’s not how it works when building commercial developments, like the one Marina is considering near its airport, located just north of the intersection of Reservation Road and Imjin Parkway.
Called the Airport Business Park, this project sits on the low end of the totem pole of Marina’s development priorities.
Maps show it encompassing about 70 acres—making it the smallest of Marina’s six major development projects. But Doug Yount, director of Marina’s Strategic Development Center, says it could be larger.
Marina Councilman Gary Wilmot hopes the City makes that site a priority because Marina needs jobs. At a recent council meeting, Wilmot responded to comments made by Councilman Ken Gray, who hinted that maybe the City didn’t need to stay on top of the business park development.
“That’s where the higher paying jobs will be,” Wilmot says. “Whenever you ask where the jobs are that will accompany the Marina Heights development, they point to the business park.”
Next to the approximately 70 acres slated for the business park sits UC Santa Cruz’s MBEST Center, which houses the Marina Technology Cluster, the City’s business incubator.
Wilmot worries that as the incubator program begins to pump out entrepreneurs they won’t have anywhere in Marina to go.
Yount, whose agency is charged with overseeing the city’s six major developments, says city staffers are still in the very early stages of planning for the business park. He says the first step is seeing what kind of businesses might be tenants.
He did stress that “City Council sets policy.”