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Leasing option increases Air Force land value

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2006) -- Underutilized Air Force land does not need to sit idle any longer.

The Air Force Real Property Agency converts underutilized land and infrastructure into real value for the Air Force, installations and communities through the enhanced use leasing option, officials said.

"Enhanced use leasing is a tool we use to manage underutilized property or infrastructure at Air Force locations," said Kathryn Halvorson, director of the Air Force Real Property Agency. "It is basically taking underutilized land, buildings or infrastructure on a base and leasing that to an interested public or private party."

On Jan. 6, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., entered into the first Air Force EUL with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, an engineering school. The school will utilize about eight acres of property the Air Force was not using.

On the property, the school will build a research facility. It will serve as a branch of their main campus and will allow students' access to scientists working at Kirtlandís Air Force Research Lab.

"They bring their students into the lab environment, and those students are learning leading technologies that the Air Force is developing for space," Ms. Halvorson said.

The facility could become the centerpiece of a nearly 300-acre research and technology park that will serve the Air Force, the university and the local community. The park could provide as many as 15,000 jobs, and would foster both professional and educational relationships between students, academics and scientists at the Air Force lab, she said.

In any lease, the tenant re-imburses the landowner for property use. With an enhanced use lease, reimbursement could be cash or in-kind consideration such as a new construction project.

In exchange for use of its land, the university may fund new on-base construction or may help remodel existing facilities.

"I think many commanders will start to hear how the Kirtland commander got a building built in the middle of his base as payment in-kind for underutilized land," Ms. Halvorson said. "When they realize they may have underutilized land, this program will start to spread across the Air Force."

The Kirtland lease is one of many being planned for the Air Force. The Air Force has more than 20 enhanced use leases in development at different locations including Hill AFB, Utah; Patrick AFB, Fla.; Tinker AFB, Okla.; and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Air Combat Command is even considering leasing out approximately 6,000 acres of radar facilities currently in caretaker status, to be used to generate renewable energy. The high altitude of those locations makes them ideal for wind farms.

"They are on the tops of mountains and this makes it an ideal location for renewable energy power windmills," Ms. Halvorson said. "Next month, we are going to have an industry day where we work with the renewable power people to find out who would be interested in leasing this land and to see what kind of payment ACC would garner from that in terms of in-kind consideration."

When the Air Force enters into a lease, it ensures all its needs are met, and the agreement does not conflict with its mission in any way.

"We put our terms of use right up front when we are developing that lease," Ms. Halvorson said. "We set our terms and conditions for developing, and those terms ensure what the tenet wants to do is compatible with the mission of the installation.

"The potential for EUL is really limitless," Ms. Halvorson said. "It's all about looking at Air Force property and assets to see how we can unlock the value of them and return it to the warfighter."