Google expanding presence to Moffett Field

Google will restore the blimp hangar at Moffett Field as a term of its lease with NASA Ames to manage the facility.
February 11, 2014 6:04:12 PM PST
One of the Bay Area's most visible landmarks is getting a new lease on life. Google will restore the depression-era blimp hangar at Moffett field near Mountain View, as a term of its lease with NASA Ames to manage the former military facility.

A Google subsidiary will get the right to put up new buildings there in exchange for improving existing facilities -- and restoring Hangar One will be a top priority. It's Moffett's best known facility, although it's stripped down to its frame. Google has pledged to re-skin and restore the former hangar for Navy blimps.

"The last government-furnished estimate on re-skinning the hangar is about $45 million-ish, depending. So we don't put any dollar requirements. They were to bid to us what they were going to put in," said NASA Ames Associate Director Deborah Feng.

The hangar covers 8 acres and is considered one of the world's largest self-supporting structures. Its exterior panels were removed to clean up toxic PCB, lead, and asbestos. Its restoration will please a community which has wanted it preserved.

"This has been a long time in the making. The community has wanted it for many, many years, and I know our local representative, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, has fought for it for a good two decades," said Mountain View City Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga.

But there is much more to Moffett Field that Google will manage including a golf course and runways. The next step is hammering out a lease between NASA Ames and Google, a process expected to take up to six months.

The air strips will still be available for government use and the number of take-offs and landings will be capped at the current 25,000 a year. Other restrictions will effectively disallow use by commercial flights or air cargo planes.

Moffett Field does have challenges -- namely toxic waste -- that Google will have to manage. "There is ground water vapor contamination from Navy, previous contamination. There's, I think, two superfund sites underneath here, plus we have old semiconductor contamination kind of migrating into the same plume," Feng said.


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