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IRVINE, CA-The government could realize more from the sale of the former US Marine Corps Air Base at El Toro than it has realized from all of its previous military base closings combined, according to information released yesterday by the US Navy and the Colliers Seeley International team that is marketing the property to private developers.

Recently renamed to Heritage Fields, the decommissioned base could garner more than what’s been realized from four previous rounds of base closings involving 100 properties, according to US Rep Christopher Cox (R-CA). Cox did not give a specific figure, but real estate industry sources estimate that sales of the 3,500 acres of El Toro land soon to be auctioned by the government could top $1 billion.

Cox said the El Toro sales are expected to outpace returns from other base closings in large part because the land parcels will be sold directly to private developers and not deeded to cities and counties as in other base closings–a process that delays development.

Cox said the El Toro approach could turn out to be a model for future base shutdownsYesterday, the Navy and Colliers Seeley provided an update, including Cox’s comments, on the pending auction. The report said Heritage Fields land-use plan will include 3.1 million sf of R&D, office and retail development; 3,400 residential units; 45 holes of golf; and a 7,800-student university campus. It also has tracts dedicated to parks, exposition centers and sports facilities.

The report quoted the Irvine’s city manager Allison Hart, saying to the effect, that officials will be “friendly regulators” in reviewing plans for the El Toro land, which will be fully entitled by the city before the sale.

The Navy expects to dispose of 3,500 acres of the 4,500-acre former base in an auction to be conducted by the US General Services Administration, with bidding expected to begin in the fall and completed before the end of the year. A bitterly fought contest between those who wanted to create a new commercial airport at the site and those who opposed the plan ended last year when Orange County voters rejected the airport proposal.

The Colliers Seeley team of W. Bret Hardy in Downtown Los Angeles and Patrick C. Remolacio in Anaheim is handling project administration and subcontract management, design, implementation and management of the marketing campaign for Heritage Fields. Jeff Scheferman, president and CEO of Colliers Seeley, fills an oversight role in the project.

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