Former McClellan barracks now home to AmeriCorps Pacific Region Campus

  • Published
  • By Scott Johnston
  • AFCEC Public Affairs
Across America, closed Air Force bases continue to serve communities in a wide variety of ways.

Although the military has departed, new missions arrive and in many towns, strong redevelopment can put the community back on its feet economically. In Sacramento, AmeriCorps found an ideal location for their regional campus at McClellan's base housing complex, serving as a good example of successful redevelopment.

At its peak of 65 years of operation, McClellan Air Force Base employed more than 26,300 military and civilian personnel. Over the years, the base typically employed about 15,000 workers each year.

Today, 13 years after the base closed, McClellan Business Park employs 13,500 people at 240 businesses, making it a model for communities redeveloping shuttered military bases.

Key ingredients for McClellan's comeback include the close collaboration between the Air Force and the community to swiftly move in new entities, retaining jobs and diversifying the economic base in the area.

Following closure, the Air Force leased McClellan property to the community to facilitate rapid redevelopment. At the same time, the Air Force worked with regulatory agencies to quickly identify land without environmental constraints. This property was deemed environmentally suitable for transfer and could be deeded to new businesses right away. Property encumbered by groundwater or soil pollution was simply leased until later work readied it for deed transfer.

Soon after McClellan's closure, AmeriCorps expressed interested in the base housing complex. The barracks-style buildings and administrative office space was ideal for the non-profit organization. Air Force real estate and environmental specialists worked swiftly to determine if the property was environmentally clear for transfer. And by 2001, dormitories on the northern-side became home to AmeriCorps Pacific Region Campus, providing housing for 320 members.

"It's been great to be here," said AmeriCorps Pacific Region Campus Regional Director Jose Phillips. "It has all the amenities that are perfect for our mission, which is bringing young adults from all over the county to help strengthen communities and develop them into leaders through team-based, national and community service. It is a natural fit for us."

The AmeriCorps program is for people 18-24 years old and includes specialized training to conduct community and disaster response services.

McClellan's closure marked the end of one era and the beginning of another as the former base began its conversion from a military base to a vital business park. Programs like AmeriCorps have been a driving force behind McClellan's rapid return to prominence as an economic mainstay in the region.