Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) 2005 closed Naval Air Station (NAS) Brunswick and Topsham Annex. The former NAS Brunswick main base (closed on May 30, 2011) consisted of 3,407 acres (including the McKeen Street housing site, East Brunswick Transmitter Site, and a small observation site near Phippsburg) and 74 acres at the Topsham Annex. This closing resulted in the loss of 4,900 military personnel; 700 civilian jobs; and 120 contractor positions. The State of Maine and the Town of Brunswick established the Brunswick Local Redevelopment Authority to complete the base redevelopment plan, and the Town of Topsham Local Redevelopment Authority completed a redevelopment plan for the Annex. The State of Maine established the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) in January 2008 to implement the plans at both locations.
The Brunswick reuse plan includes a range of uses: airport operations and aviation related businesses, business and technology industries, alternative energy research, manufacturing and power generation, higher education, residential housing, recreation, and open space. With the base now closed, the site has been renamed “Brunswick Landing - Maine’s Center for Innovation.” The Topsham site, now known as the Topsham Commerce Park, includes a small professional office park, open space, and housing. The Homeless Assistance Submission was approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in April 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration approved a 700-acre airport conveyance to MRRA in January, 2011, and subsequently accepted this new general aviation facility in the “Military Airports Program” that will make up to $5.1 million available for airport capital costs. An Economic Development Conveyance (EDC) for 1,098 acres was completed in September 2011, with 250 acres transferred to the Authority in October.
MRRA’s economic development efforts started early with interim leasing activity before base closure, and 15 tenants have located on the former base with 117 jobs as of the end of November 2011. The approved educational public benefit conveyance for the Sothern Maine Community College helps locate a key educational asset that will assist in the job creation effort.
The former base-privatized housing posed challenges to reuse and property disposal. Because the Navy’s long term lease on the units did not allow simple reuse planning and property transfer, MRRA has worked to identify an approach that facilitates reuse of over 700 housing units. A new lease holder, the Affordable Midcoast Housing, LLC is currently working with the towns of Brunswick and Topsham and MRRA to develop a strategy of introducing those units into the marketplace.
For more information on the challenges these communities faced, click here.