Gulfstream is leaving Long Beach over the next six months. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

In the wake of the surprise announcement that Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. will abandon its Long Beach operations, Long Beach Airport today announced it will solicit companies interested in occupying the company’s 22 acres of airport property.

Airport officials are working with Gulfstream to develop an exit plan, while simultaneously preparing a request for proposals, or RFP, for aerospace-related uses. The RFP is expected to be released in early 2021 to solicit leasing interest and development for the various spaces.

“We are collaborating with the Long Beach Economic Development Department to attract interest from businesses that will further strengthen the Long Beach economy and our city’s history as a hub for aviation, innovation and technology,” stated airport Director Cynthia Guidry. “This is a unique opportunity for a large area of land that will complement ongoing developments within the … complex.”

Gulfstream currently leases 455,000 square feet at the municipal airport, including about 250,000 square feet of hangar space. On Monday, after 34 years in Long Beach, the aerospace company announced a phased closure over the next six months. However, airport staff believes it will take the company longer to fully vacate all properties.

Last year, Gulfstream extended its lease through 2024.

In 2018, Gulfstream was awarded an additional 20 acres of former Boeing property on the west side of the airport. While it had plans for millions of dollars of investment, the company paused those efforts last year. The site, which includes 6 acres of airfield space, is currently occupied under short-term agreements but will become available in a separate RFP in the future.

In a written statement, Mayor Robert Garcia noted the city’s recent boom in satellite and rocket businesses over the last five years, saying there is high demand by current Long Beach aerospace companies for expansion, as well as outside firms to move in. Long Beach’s space economy currently includes Virgin Orbit, SpinLaunch, Rocket Lab and Relativity Space.

“Long Beach is leading the way and has one of the best space industries in the country,” Garcia said. “With its excellent location and a growing list of space industry firms that have emerged around the airport, we expect to see very strong demand for this opportunity.”

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.