Golden Gate National Parks Celebrates Fort Baker Transformation

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Landmark National Park now home to Cavallo Point Lodge and Institute at the Golden Gate.

Fort Baker photo by Michal Venera

We are proud that we have been able to create a comfortable and environmentally responsible lodge experience while restoring the historical and cultural significance of Fort Baker

Staged under the soaring, red-orange span of the Golden Gate Bridge, a ceremony this Saturday, June 14, 2008 at Fort Baker will tie an historic past to a brilliant new future and mark a milestone for California and the National Park Service.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (CA-08), Speaker of the House; Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (CA-06); Congressman John Murtha (PA-12); and Congressman Ralph Regula (OH-16) championed the Fort Baker project and will lead the Flag Day celebration to commemorate the 10-year transformation of Fort Baker from a former military post to a national park site for all.

Long a Pacific Coast fortress, Fort Baker turned from a military post into a 350-acre national park site in 2002. Now it begins a new era, one that will burnish Fort Baker's stalwart legacy by preserving landmark historic buildings, restoring natural habitat, protecting the environment, and ensuring access to a revitalized national park for generations to come.

"A new call to action is upon us today, to move from Fort Baker's 20th century role of military defense to its new 21st century role of environmental protection," said Greg Moore, executive director of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. "The Institute, as well as the facilities and operations of Cavallo Point Lodge, will add to the San Francisco Bay Area's reputation and record of environmental leadership, talent, and innovation."

Fort Baker's 'post to park' progress now includes Cavallo Point - the Lodge at the Golden Gate, the 21st century's first new national park lodge. As it proudly joins the grand tradition of America's national park lodges, Cavallo Point Lodge also will serve as the launch home for the Institute at the Golden Gate, an environmental program of the nonprofit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in partnership with the National Park Service.

Cavallo Point Lodge opens to the public July 1. The Institute at the Golden Gate debuts this fall with the mission of convening dialogue to advance solutions that promote the health, sustainability, and protection of our environment.

"The community was very involved in determining Fort Baker's future. The opening of Cavallo Point Lodge and the launch of the Institute at the Golden Gate will make the vision a reality and ensure the long-term preservation of this landmark national park site," said Brian O'Neill, general superintendent, Golden Gate National Parks.

Fort Baker's post to park journey began with its 1995 decommission (Base Closure and Realignment Act). In 1998, and anticipating the property's 2002 transfer from the Army, the National Park Service launched a public process to shape Fort Baker's future. The notion for Fort Baker to have a sustainable and environmental orientation was the principle outcome from this process; thus, the establishment of an environmental institute became integral to the revitalization plan for the national park site and historic landmark district.

The National Park Service identified a 'retreat and conference center' as the central reuse concept for the historic site. In the 21st century, reuse requires significant capital investment to preserve the historic buildings and grounds at Fort Baker and prepare them for their new purpose. As the site was in a state of accelerating disrepair, Fort Baker required more than vision - it also needed the talent, public/nonprofit/private partnership, and financial engine for a revitalization of this scope. Restoration of waterfront and natural habitat were also included in the reuse plan submitted by the Fort Baker Retreat Group LLC, which includes Equity Community Builders LLC, Passport Resorts LLC, and Ajax Capital LLC. The Fort Baker Retreat Group's proposal won out in a highly competitive review conducted by the National Park Service.

"This is a spectacular, one-of-a-kind setting, and we accepted a significant and personal responsibility to grace this amazing place with a property like Cavallo Point Lodge," said Mike Freed, managing director for Passport Resorts.

Cavallo Point Lodge resonates with the social and environmental ethos shared by Passport Resorts and its development partner, Equity Community Builders (ECB). "We are proud that we have been able to create a comfortable and environmentally responsible lodge experience while restoring the historical and cultural significance of Fort Baker," said Tom Sargent, founding principal for ECB.

The Fort Baker Retreat Group brought private funding to preserve and adapt historic buildings as well as to construct new, ecologically designed buildings - all part of Cavallo Point Lodge. The federal government contributed restoration funding, primarily toward infrastructure improvements; Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy-organized philanthropy funded the 'post to park' conversion effort; and Bay Area Discovery Museum contributions expanded and improved this popular and renowned facility (located adjacent to Cavallo Point Lodge).

As part of the last decade of Fort Baker's 'post to park' conversion, many other restoration elements will be celebrated at the 'ribbon-cutting' event on June 14, including:

  • 44 acres of landscape restoration (including 14 acres of historic parade ground restoration
  • 10 acres of habitat restoration for the endangered mission blue butterfly
  • Improvements to miles of national park hiking and biking trails
  • A future phase of the conversion effort involves the improvement and restoration of the Fort Baker waterfront

Fort Baker's official national park website is http://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/fort-baker.htm. Institute at the Golden Gate information is online at http://www.instituteatgoldengate.com.

For more information on Cavallo Point, visit http://www.cavallopoint.com.

Media Contact:
David Shaw
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
(415) 561-3064
dshaw @ parksconservancy.org

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