HLRA Nets 2 Submissions for Air Base Plan

Two firms have applied to lead the next phase of the lengthy redevelopment project.

The Horsham Land Redevelopment Authority received a pair of applications from firms vying to lead the next roughly 10-month phase of Willow Grove air base’s redevelopment. 

HLRA Executive Director Mike McGee said Matrix Design Group teamed with “a number of folks” in a $768,920 proposal, while Weston Solutions collaborated with RKG Associates, Inc. on a separate $475,505 submission.

RKG served as the HLRA’s lead consultant during the most pivotal phase of the 862-acre redevelopment plan, which included countless public meetings and presentations ultimately leading the board to advance plans without an airport. Based on the uses the board approved last year, RKG also plotted what would go where on the and submitted to the federal government.

“I’m confident that no matter which side we flip on at this point we have the capability of getting a really, really good study,” McGee said.

Proposals were due on Oct. 22 and the initial hope was that the board would approve moving forward on a contract negotiation during its Nov. 14 meeting. But, McGee said this week that he and the board would likely need more time to review the applications. 

“I would be shocked if I was able to even make a recommendation and I’d be more shocked if they were willing to accept that recommendation in such a short time frame,” McGee said, adding that the board would likely make a decision in either late November or December. “We all need to read them and make sure that it’s clear what they are proposing and decide on which one or neither.”

The professional firm, once selected, will lead the board in devising a business plan and pro forma.

The firm’s study will encompass everything from traffic, water and sewer, stormwater management and other factors analyzed in large-scale developments. Ultimately the point is to “prove” the board approved a viable mixed-use plan through completion of a “good business plan,” McGee said previously.

The finalized business plan and pro forma will be used in conjunction with the board’s economic development conveyance application to the federal government. Officials have said that the hope is for the HLRA to acquire the property and serve as master developer.

The firm’s costs would be funded by a 90/10 split between the federal Office of Economic Adjustment and the HLRA, McGee said. For its part, the HLRA has a line of credit with Horsham Township.

“Much of our 10 percent is in-kind match,” McGee said, adding that rent to the township for office space and the time that township manager Bill Walker spends on HLRA matters make up much of the local costs. “It’s not all cash.”

Gregory Marston October 25, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Good article Theresa, But the bottom line is still that the people of Horsham have been hoodwinked into believing that one Business Consultant can do better than another in the "black hole" this air base will become over the next 5-10 years. By foregoing the gold mine that this runway could have been for the taxpayers of Horsham, now we will find out low little this area is worth. I'm sure that there are just hundreds of businesses who will skip over the glut of empty business properties in Bucks/Mont County so that they can play Russian roulette by investing in WG. First they have to deal with the Navy, the HLRA, pray that no environmental problems are detected, tear down old Navy buildings and then build their own. OR just move into one of the many open industrial parks. Hmmmm The examples of Warminister and El Toro, CA are cautionary tales. I'm sure the total loss of jobs in those base is an aberration - there will be lots of business who will risk financial ruin, dealing with the HLRA and finding their own little Love Canal or Super Fund site to keep them in the court until their grandchildren graduate from college. That makes perfect business sense to me! Just because Horsham hired a consulting company to say that the runway is worthless as a job creator, doesn't mean that it is true. Just ask the people at Warminister or El Toro. The Navy and the HLRA know what's best, because they said so, on the internet. Col Gregory Marston (ret)


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