The Rialto Municipal Airport property is 437 acres of what will eventually be the 1,500-acre Renaissance Rialto project, which will include homes, offices, retail centers and schools along the forthcoming Interstate 210 extension.
"Clearly, it's the future of Rialto," Councilman Ed Scott said Monday. "It's a good project."
The City Council approved a conceptual plan for the project in December 2005 but held off on transferring the airport property until officials had won approval to close the airport.
The project will be developed by Lewis-Hillwood LLC, a partnership between Lewis Operating Corp. and Ross Perot Jr.'s Texas-based Hillwood Development Corp.
Although the Federal Aviation Administration typically decides the fate of airports, the city obtained permission to close the airport as part of a federal transportation bill passed in August 2005.
Rialto officials have said they chose Lewis in part because of the company's political
Rep. Joe Baca, D-Rialto, and Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, also helped the city obtain permission to close the airport.
"This transfer of land will make possible projects that will benefit Rialto for generations to come," Baca said in a July 2005 statement. "As a resident of Rialto, as well as its representative in Congress, I recognize that our community has the opportunity to move forward with revitalization, economic development and growth as a result."
The airport property and surrounding area has been appraised at $82million. However, the costs of preparing the property for development - such as demolishing buildings, relocating businesses and remediation costs - will be deducted from the $82million price tag, and the FAA will also receive 45 percent of the property's fair market value based on an FAA appraisal.
Once the land is transferred to the city Redevelopment Agency - which Economic Development Director Robb Steel said will be finalized at the next City Council meeting - the council will no longer need to approve the sale of the property.
City officials hope to close the airport by December 2007.
The council is also expected to decide tonight whether to allow the developer to delay payment on 53 acres of adjacent property north of the airport if there is a delay in developing the airport property.
Staff writer Robert Rogers contributed to this report.