News Article | 5/27/2005

Base’s developer delivers $421,000

The AllianceCalifornia project at the former Norton Air Force Base did well enough in 2004 that the base’s master developer was able to present local officials with a $421,000 profit-sharing check on Wednesday.

The money was in addition to about $160,000 that Dallas-based Hillwood presented to the Inland Valley Development Agency earlier this year in anticipation of such a windfall.

The company knew in January that it had turned its first profit on the project in 2004, but did not have an exact figure until recently, after a final accounting of the year’s work was finalized, Hillwood executive vice-president John Magness said.

Hillwood made the earlier payment on the belief that the development agency would be owed something, he said.

“The plan is being executed as well as we thought it would, if not better,” Magness said. “The job count continues to rise.”

The development agency signed Hillwood as the former base’s master developer in late 2002.

The agreement calls for Hillwood to share a portion of its profits with the development agency, although it was unclear when that might happen and how much the agency could anticipate receiving.

But in the more than two years Hillwood has worked to attract development to the former base, it has brought in major warehouse and distribution facilities for the Kohl’s department store chain, Mattel and Pep Boys. A lease for the latter project just took effect in recent weeks.

Hillwood invested millions in the former base before the development process began to show results.

“Mattel helped bring us out of the hole, then Pep Boys put us over the top,” Magness said.

San Bernardino County Supervisor Dennis Hansberger, a member of the development agency board, said the airport portion of the former base still has untapped potential. But he said development has been strong on the surrounding former base land.

“This is a very important time for us,” Hansberger said. “It’s beginning to really look like a whole new place.”