Air Force & Port San Antonio Celebrate Completion of Kelly AFB Transfer

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  • By AFRPA / PA
  • AFRPA / PA
Today the Air Force together with the Port San Antonio, will be celebrating the final property transfer of former Kelly Air Force Base and commemorating its over 80 years of Air Force service. Mr. Robert Moore, Director, Air Force Real Property Agency, Mr. Bruce Miller, President, Port San Antonio and Honorable Nelson Wolff, Bexar County Judge, are among the keynote speakers at the event.

"Fifteen years ago, no one could've imagined how successful the post-Kelly Air Force Base era would turn out to be," Mayor Julián Castro said. "Port San Antonio is the classic lemonade from lemons story."

Since base closure in 2001, 1,887 acres have been transferred to Port San Antonio. Some 70 organizations have established a presence at the Port, including Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and Lockheed Martin. The Air Force has leased back about 200 acres from the Port, including Building 171, which now houses 11 Air Force Agencies. Strategically located in North America, Port San Antonio supports the NAFTA corridor between Mexico and Canada with railroad and air support for distribution of products. Today these employers provide jobs to 14,000 area workers, with an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion for the region. Since then, most all remaining facilities have either been rented out or demolished by the Port Authority. The Port is currently 95 percent occupied.

"The Air Force has been a steadfast partner to Port San Antonio during the transition that has taken place over the last decade," said Bruce Miller, President and CEO of Port San Antonio. "Many of the Port's successes have been possible thanks to the military's shared commitment to ensure that this site continues to support economic growth for the San Antonio community. Our organization looks forward to future successes alongside the Air Force, including the consolidation of 12 agencies at the Port this year."

Kelly AFB was one of two major Air Force logistics depots required to be closed as part of the 1995 BRAC round. Unlike some base closure communities around the country, the City of San Antonio embraced the inevitable and began early to plan with the Air Force for the eventual transfer of the base to the private sector and redevelopment of the base as an Industrial Park. The closure of Kelly AFB was one of our most complicated. It was one of the largest, most complex and difficult base closures in Department of Defense history.

"It has been a long and heartening journey since I was Mayor in 1995 when the decision came down to close Kelly, but it turned out to be successful with the private sector coming in to create more jobs," said Judge Nelson Wolff.

Although the Air Force will no longer be a landowner at Port San Antonio, it will be actively involved for years to come in the environmental cleanup. Since the BRAC decision for closure and realignment of Kelly AFB in 1995 and the base closure in July 2001, extensive environmental investigation and remediation have resulted in the achievement of the required Operating Properly and Successfully Determination by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 43 selected remedies at the former base. The environmental cleanup program at Kelly AFB began in 1988 and since then the Air Force has spent $268 million on a variety of remedial actions at different source sites. Environmental treatments include the use of permeable reactive barriers and groundwater treatment plants, and innovative remediation technologies to expedite the remediation. The Air Force and the Port Authority will continue to work together to address environmental concerns while the Port Authority continues with the economic development of the property, as part of the Port Authority Master Plan.

"Kelly Air Force Base has a long, proud history of service to the nation," said Robert Moore, Director of the Air Force Real Property Agency. "It now contributes to the region's economy via air, rail and truck. It has transformed itself into a Port in the Heart of Texas that serves as a gateway to the world."

The Air Force Real Property Agency is responsible for remediation and property transfer at 40 former Air Force installations throughout the U.S. under the Base Realignment and Closure program. At the height of the BRAC process, AFRPA managed 87,000 acres, or about 137 square miles of property. In the two decades since the first BRAC round in 1988, the agency has transferred 89 percent, or more than 116 square miles of land - twice the area of Washington, D.C. - back to communities for public use. Throughout the transfer process, the Air Force remains committed to protecting human health and the environment.