Changes coming to former Castle Air Force Base in Merced County

Brittany Jacob Image
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Changes coming to former Castle Air Force Base in Merced County
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After sitting vacant for nearly 30 years, demolition of the dormitories will start this week.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Castle Air Force base in the heart of Merced County is engrained in the community's history.

What was once thriving dormitories for US Air Force Airmen 27 years ago is now an eyesore.

But that will change in the coming days.

Mark Hendrickson is Merced County's Community and Economic Development Director. He says he's excited to see what's next for the area.

Merced County has allocated more than $1 million to demolish the blighted structures.

Hendrickson said while there is a need for more housing in the county, the vandalized dorms are not the answer.

"We certainly understand and empathize with those who believe that this would be a suitable location," he said. "But in all honesty, these are facilities that really were not made for that purpose. It was built for an entirely different purpose during the days of the Air Force."

Right now, there are a number of entities located on the former base. This includes the California Transportation Research Center, the Google subsidiary for autonomous vehicles, known as Waymo, a 12,000-foot long runway and an existing freight rail for the emerging inland port that's slated to open in May.

County Supervisor Daron McDaniel says the property is costing the county too much money but he says the future of the space has potential for thousands of jobs.

"Once we see castle fully built out, one in nine jobs will be located here at Castle," he said.

County leaders say when the abatement process is complete in the coming days, you will start to see these dorms come down to create space for the new property to attract new users in the private sectors.