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Brown Field airport makeover: Largest general aviation redevelopment project on West Coast begins

City of San Diego officials hope the project turns the airport into an attractive international travel hub
Brown Field Airport
Posted at 12:14 PM, Jun 10, 2024

OTAY MESA, Calif. (KGTV) -- Brown Field Municipal Airport in San Diego’s South Bay is getting a complete makeover, as ground was officially broken Monday on a major redevelopment of the facility.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said the project is now the West Coast's largest general aviation redevelopment.

The project is expected to take 20 years to complete, and Otay Mesa will see the first building as early as 2025. The cost of the first phase will be an estimated $100 million.

Brown Field’s airfield is about 1.5 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, and that's an important detail because City of San Diego officials said this redevelopment is primarily aimed at streamlining immigration processes.

"This will have an economic impact of $1.5 billion for our region and support about 2,500 good-paying local jobs," Gloria said.

City officials are hoping the redevelopment of Brown Field will make it more attractive for international travel and trade.

The project will also include new flight facilities and a hotel.

Brown Field already has a Customs Border Protection office on-site, and it will be expanded to manage the volume of international travel and trade the city is forecasting.

Jorge Rubio, the city's Chief of Airports, said that as of now, anyone who flies in and uses their CBP facility can do so for free.

That is one way it plans to use the new facilities to generate more revenue.

Rubio said, "If you have somebody coming back into the U.S. from another country, they come here, they can get their aircraft inspected, and they get to buy fuel from us. The business benefits, and we as a city benefit because we charge not only a landing fee but also a fuel flowage fee for every gallon that is being sold."

ABC 10News also asked Rubio about the situation with the businesses on the airfield that were under a sub-lease agreement and are being evicted for this redevelopment project.

Rubio said the city is still working with those businesses and offering them any assistance they can.

Brown Field, previously named East Field in honor of Army Maj. Whitten J. East, opened in 1918 when the U.S. Army established an aerial gunnery and aerobatics school to relieve congestion at North Island