To most, McClellan Park is known as a bustling business campus, filled with a diverse mix of companies that consider it “home.” In fact, its 8 million-plus square feet of office, industrial, retail, residential, airport, rail, and hotel space has earned McClellan Park the title of California’s largest master-planned community.
The campus holds decades of rich history dating back to its earliest days, where it was originally known as McClellan Air Force Base. Interested in learning more about McClellan Park’s unique journey through time? Read on to learn more about the milestones that shaped the community into what it is today.
McClellan Air Force Base: The Beginning
In its early days, McClellan Air Force Base was recognized as one of the largest employers in Sacramento. Due to its employment of both civilian and military personnel, the base grew to become a substantial economic engine throughout the region and the single largest industrial facility in Northern California. At its peak, McClellan Air Force Base employed up to 26,000 people during its operation as a logistical depot for more than 60 years.
While it was only fair to assume the future of a thriving McClellan Air Force Base seemed bright, the era came to an end in 1995. As part of the Base Realignment and Closure process (a congressionally authorized process implemented by the US Department of Defense), it was announced that the base would soon be closed – and more than 11,600 employees would immediately be without a job, and a paycheck.
It wasn’t long before the closure announcement began to impact the region enormously, and it proved to be an overwhelming loss to the local economy. $1.5 billion was lost annually, and development was quickly paralyzed throughout the base’s surrounding area of North Highlands and beyond. Along with the financial and developmental impacts, fears of increased crime and additional blight were felt amongst the many that lived and worked nearby.
Despite a seemingly abrupt ending, much uncertainty amongst employees and the public, and a devastating impact felt throughout the Sacramento region, a glimmer of hope for McClellan’s future still remained. Thanks to a few key public-private partnerships - the Air Force, Sacramento County, and the founding team of McClellan Business Park – it turned out the facility may not need to be completely closed after all. Together, the partners chose to implement a Hot Transfer concept, where a select group of private businesses were brought into McClellan’s vacant buildings prior to its official shutdown. This was a critical transition process that proved to be key in allowing McClellan to at least retain a minimum level of employment – albeit nowhere near what it once was. Thanks to that transition, some amount of re-growth was able to begin, even prior to the base's official closing.
Though McClellan Air Force Base as most knew it was no more, this change brought hope for what the future might hold.
The Present Day and Beyond
Following the official closure of McClellan Air Force Base on July 13, 2001, the facility became what is now known as McClellan Business Park – the growing, thriving business campus and a unique amenity to the Sacramento region and its business community. What was once a well-known military facility is now home to hundreds of private companies – and so much more. A variety of state, federal and local government agencies also operate out of McClellan Business Park, and it has become a highly sought-after campus for private investment opportunities.
Today, a total of 230 tenants do business in McClellan Park, and on average, the campus has reached an estimated 17,000 daily visitors. Some of the business park’s many tenants have included: Surewest, Northrop Grumman, JCPenney, The USDA Wildfire Academy, Sacramento Regional Transit, California Department of Transportation, Cal Fire, US Coast Guard, General Dynamics, XO Jets, Flight Options, Ozark Trucking, Patriot Rail, SMUD, Twin Rivers School District, and AmeriCorps – just to name a few.
McClellan Park continues to grow and develop each year, and 90% of the campus’s available space is currently occupied. There’s no doubt that the immensely successful revitalization is the result of a successful partnership between Sacramento County and McClellan Business Park.
McClellan also offers a variety of unique amenities for the general public – including the on-site Officer’s Club Restaurant & Event Center– which was The Officer’s Club when the Air Force base was active. It was a place for dining and entertainment for elite officers in the military, and now it has established itself as a favorite Sacramento restaurant. It also serves as a charming event venue that regularly holds weddings, corporate and special events, and much more.
The Aerospace Museum of California and the onsite Lion’s Gate Hotel are among other popular park amenities. With its 125 guest rooms and recent renovations, the hotel is a frequent choice for business professionals (and wedding guests!) traveling to the Sacramento area.
McClellan Park has also become widely-known for its aviation offerings, as well. The Sacramento McClellan Airport is the nation’s largest privately owned, public-use airport and serves as the hub of CAL FIRE’s aerial firefighting efforts. McClellan Jet Services - established in September, 2001 - is the airport’s 24/7 on-site FBO that offers fueling, hangar and tiedown services, and world class customer service to airport tenants and visitors.
“National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse” Achievement
In recognition of this successful transition, McClellan Park received the National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Award on May 2, 2018. Created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the achievement recognizes hard work, innovative thinking, and cooperation among federal agencies, states, tribes, local partners and developers to encourage the restoration of federal sites for beneficial reuses. The award highlighted the unique partnership between the Air Force and the community to facilitate the rapid cleanup and reuse of the site – a key component in helping McClellan Park become the thriving corporate community that it is today.
The revitalization of McClellan Park has been made possible through a variety of investments – all of which have played a significant role in helping McClellan Park achieve the success and recognition that it has acquired today. Overall, a total of $580 million dollars has been invested across the project in both infrastructure and building improvements. This amount is reflective of direct investments of over $208 million from tenants, $280 million dollars from McClellan Business Park and $88 million dollars in grants from a variety of state and federal agencies, the Office of Economic Adjustment, the Economic Development Agency, and the Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement.
McClellan Park and the Community
One might say that McClellan Park has become the heart of its community. After all, a thriving, prosperous McClellan Park means a vibrant and healthy North Highlands community!
With the Park recognized as one of the most successful conversions of a former military base in the United States, future plans also include the construction of an additional 6,000,000 square feet of new buildings. The undertaking would create the opportunity to employ a workforce of 35,000 employees at full capacity. (More great news for our community!)
Without a doubt, due to McClellan Park’s lasting relationship with Sacramento County, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, the United States Air Force, and the surrounding community of North Highlands, future development of the Park will only continue to benefit the members of the nearby community. The influx of potential jobs brings a handful of benefits in essential areas - including blight mitigation, infrastructure improvement and of course, local job growth. Much like McClellan Park’s earliest days, further investment is crucial for continued growth and success of both the Park and the entire North Sacramento region.
McClellan Park boasts decades of history, revitalization and moments that helped shape it into California’s largest master-planned community. Whether you’re a current tenant, a developer, or simply a Sacramento local that enjoys taking in a bit of history, we hope you feel enlightened on the fascinating part of history that is McClellan Business Park.
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