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IRVINE, CA-CA-The US government will sell 3,720 acres of the former Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro via a public online auction in January, a sale that officials have estimated could bring $1 billion for the land, where developers are expected to create up to 3.1 million sf of industrial R&D, office and retail development, and approximately 3,400 residential units.The property is being sold by the Department of the Navy and the US General Services Administration, with Colliers Seeley International marketing it for them. The close of escrow and transfer of the parcels is expected in July 2005. The 3,720 acres is split into four parcels, all of which will be auctioned concurrently. Since the closing of the air base, the site has been renamed Heritage Fields. Wayne Arny, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for installations and facilities, describes the property as “the largest single development opportunity available in Orange County in more than 30 years.” Officials have said that Heritage Fields could produce the government’s largest-ever return on a military base closing because the land will be sold to private developers and will not be deeded to a city, a county or a redevelopment agency as many shuttered bases have. City officials have said that they will be “friendly regulators” in reviewing plans for the El Toro land. The plan to sell the land to developers arose after a bitter political fight in which some factions wanted to turn the former military airfield into a commercial airport while others opposed a new commercial airport. The decision was placed on the Orange County ballot in 2002, and voters rejected the commercial airport concept. Since then, government officials have been working on the plans to sell the property for private development.

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