VICTORVILLE, CA—As reported earlier this week, Southern California Logistics Airport is rapidly approaching 100% leased status and is set to launch Phase 2 of its industrial growth plan for the airport. sat down with the City of Victorville‘s assistant city manager Keith Metzler to discuss what’s next for the airport and the challenges it faces as it seeks expansion. Why was Victorville the ideal location for this airport?

Metzler: Having been a military base, the big challenge was taking an old, antiquated infrastructure system, building it up to industry requirements and trying to utilize whatever land real estate we have. That’s been our biggest effort for the last 15-20 years, to get that old facility repositioned and put to use. When you go beyond that, a lot of it has to do with Victorville being central to a major consumer market in California. There are between 18 million and 20 million people in Southern California, and we’re right next door to them. What does the airport mean for the West Coast’s industrial sector?

Metzler: We have everything from warehouse logistics to manufacturing. We have been redeveloping the base and making significant investments in public-utility systems. We’re building our own municipal utility for gas and electric, we control our own water and have expanded our wastewater treatment capacity to handle highly concentrated discharge from manufacturers to use for reclaimed purposes. We’re making ourselves available to all different types of uses, including aerospace. We’re positioned well for flight testing—Boeing does flight testing at our place, and GE flight tests all its new engines being produced and occupies a hangar at our facility. We have available land and hangars to accommodate companies, offer maintenance-repair services to leasing companies and are doing a lot of OEM work. For example, Boeing is taking unpainted planes from right off the assembly line from Charleston, SC, to Seattle and sending them to us. Kenya Airways took delivery from our place and China Southern also. Boeing can’t keep up with the painting demand, so they’re outsources it to tenant Leading Edge here to keep up with the demand. Tell me about Phase 2 of the airport’s growth strategy. How will it work?

Metzler: We’re trying to decide that right now. What we know is that we’re at a crossroads. We have been fortunate over the years to rely heavily on tax-increment funding, which was the redevelopment funding in California to build the infrastructure to support the industry. The biggest challenge we have right now is the state of California abolished the RDAs, so we can’t rely on that funding source. We’re forced to look at what we have in terms of real estate. We are looking at where are the most logical places to take advantage of existing real estate. We have partners we refer to as master developers for the airport, but we’re looking for developers for properties inside the fence line for aeronautical and non-aeronautical purposes. We’re looking to partner with the airport authority to do build-to-suit. Are there logistical airports like SCLA in the country? Are more in the works?

Metzler: The closest one to ours I’ve seen is Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. It’s a Ross Perot project, and it’s the closest to what we have. They’re lucky because they’ve had a 15-to-20-year head start on us and are in Texas because everyone wants to be there, and the environment is different. It’s been a huge success, and if there was one we would aspire to, it would be that one. Maybe the closest geographically is San Bernardino, which is trying to attract passengers rather than industrial. But that’s not our focus. I don’t realistically believe passenger service is viable in Victorville since we’re so close to the Ontario International Regional Airport.