C-17 (copy)

Boeing's Globemaster C-17, originally built in Long Beach, remains a big attraction when it comes home.

United Parcel Service, the giant package delivery company, went public Monday with  its quest to purchase the Boeing C-17 property near Long Beach Airport.

The manufacturing center and hanger has been idle since December 2015, when the last military transport plane flew away. The city has since begun a planning process for the area — one that includes much more than the Boeing facility, although it remains the centerpiece.

Called the Globemaster Corridor Specific Plan, the zoning process includes 438.3 acres of primarily industrial land along Cherry Avenue and Spring Street. One iteration of the plan would accommodate approximately 4.7 million square feet of office (including medical office and research and development) uses, 4.3 million square feet of industrial (including manufacturing and light industrial/warehousing) uses, 463,600 square feet of retail uses, 84,500 square feet of restaurant uses, and 178,600 square feet of hotel uses. About 16 residential units could fit in a neighborhood commercial land use area.

But all that UPS is focused on now is the Boeing facility, including the buildings.

"UPS is in the midst of a significant three-year capital investment program involving capacity expansion in its global airlines and ground shipping network," said Bruce MacRae, senior vice president for government affairs based in Long Beach. "The company opened or expanded 20 new facilities in the U.S. in 2018 and expects to complete similar amounts of facility expansion in 2019 and 2020. Recent grand openings in Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Dallas have generated approximately 2,500 new employee positions in each new site."

MacRae said that the UPS proposal is the only option now that keeps the iconic C-17 hangar. In addition to generating union-wage jobs, the new hubs use the latest in technology for sorting, package handling and transportation, and use solar energy and other sustainable processes. A capital investment of $200 million to $300 million is expected in Long Beach, he said, and the current UPS facility would continue to operate.

"UPS is uniquely attractive as a new tenant and source of support for the development since it envisions utilizing the existing 1.1 million square-foot former Boeing assembly building on the existing site," MacRae said. "UPS plans to have the new facility in operation 18-24 months from approval from the city of Long Beach."

John Keisler, economic development director for the city, noted that Long Beach is not the property owner — Boeing holds title to that property. The specific plan, once approved by the City Council, does dictate land uses, though.

"We've been engaging with the community," Keisler said, adding that the Development Services Department is in charge of the process. "We want to find out what they want there, what they want to see come out of there… We're really excited about the location next to the airport, near freeways, between LA and Orange County. But the specific plan would lay out what uses are allowed there more than what happens there."

Keisler said the staff hopes to have a draft specific plan, along with a draft environmental impact report, in front of the City Council "within a few months."

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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