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Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant, California

Program: Base Realignment and Closure

Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant, California


After losing 120 civilian jobs in 2009, the former Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant is currently home to 40 businesses that employ over 300 people.

Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant Today

In April 2010, the Army signed a Master Lease with the Riverbank Local Redevelopment Authority (RLRA). The RLRA moved onto the property and assumed caretaker responsibilities pending conveyance. Between 2010 and 2017, the RLRA added 43 industrial tenants including plastic recycling, plastic recycling manufacturers, glass recyclers, oil recyclers, and a cellulosic ethanol production facility. There are now over 300 jobs on site, representing 250 percent of the lost civilian jobs, and the businesses generate $31 million local economic impact, almost four times the facility’s annual economic contribution prior to closure. 

The Army executed an interim lease and two environmental services cooperative agreements totaling over $50,000,000 for the remediation of the property prior to conveyance. The Army’s commitment to protect and ensure the health and safety of the community has contributed to attracting new businesses to the property. 

The Army conveyed 24.4 acres to the RLRA in October 2017. The remaining property will transfer upon completion of the environmental remediation, projected for 2019. The RLRA’s long-term goal is to find a private party to master lease the property and operate the facility.


The Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant was built in 1942. It is located in Stanislaus County, California, approximately five miles northeast of the City of Modesto. The former military site was originally constructed by the Aluminum Company of America in 1942 as an aluminum reduction plant for supplying the military. 

Beginning in 1951, the plant produced steel cartridge cases, with production reaching peaks during the Korean and Vietnam wars. During the years in-between the conflicts the plant was placed on standby status (1958 – 1966). From 1977 through 1990, only the grenade and mortar production lines were operational; the grenade production ceased in 1990. From 1990 until closure of the plant in 2009, 5-inch and105-millimeter artillery casings were produced. No explosive constituents were used, or stored on the facility.

There are approximately 55 buildings at the former Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant, with a combined square footage of over 700,000 square feet. The site is divided into a number of property parcels; 174 acres are planned as part of a no-cost economic development conveyance to the City of Riverbank.

Since 1984, numerous environmental investigations have been conducted on the property. The facility was placed on the National Priorities List due to groundwater contamination (chromium and cyanide) on Feb 21, 1990.

The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended closure of the Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant. Riverbank officially closed on March 31, 2009, resulting in the loss of 120 civilian positions. The community reuse plan was submitted to the Army in November 2008. Reuse is limited on the property to industrial commercial tenants. 

The reuse plan calls for a new concentration of specialized industries associated with “green” or “clean tech” manufacturing to replace the aged military operations and create new economic growth. It is anticipated that this new kind of industrial complex will benefit the surrounding communities by providing a range of high-wage jobs, and promoting businesses with responsible environmental technologies and energy efficient, or sustainable practices. 

Early access to the property was key to developing and implementing a successful Reuse Plan. Assuming caretaker responsibilities allowed the RLRA unfettered access to the property. This afforded RLRA the ability to better assess infrastructure conditions, and to refine adaptive reuse strategies as well as capitalize on the property’s assets – including the surplus personal property. For example, equipment previously used for forging military wares could easily be adapted for use in other industries when coupled with a targeted marketing program. 

Updated October, 2017

Point of Contact

Debbie Olson

Executive Director

Riverbank Local Redevelopment Authority


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