After 20 years in the making, the former Tustin Marine Base in Orange County will become an animal shelter.
Officials celebrated the plan during a groundbreaking ceremony last week.
"The land swap was a complicated transaction and a creative solution to the delays," said Jean Pasco, a spokeswoman for the County's executive office.
The new center will be 10 acres, more than the 4.5 acres at an old shelter built in 1941 in Orange.
The new facility will provide three surgical suites and multiple pre-op and post-op recovery areas, "catios" -- outdoor patios to house multiple cats. It will also have an indoor climate controlled bathing and grooming area, a large lobby, the OC PetTrack mobile application for helping pet owners find lost animals and new owners adopt pets.
Pasco said many of the new amenities are geared toward fostering a less stressful environment for the animals, many of which have experienced abuse.
The OC Board of Supervisors approved up to $35 million for construction, with an estimated two years to complete.
"We appreciate the efforts of everyone involved," said Ava Park, founder of Orange County People for Animals, an animal advocacy group. "We are very happy to see the improvement and new space, which makes it easier for everyone to work."
While she's happy, she said the new shelter is a "Band-Aid" and it doesn't solve the overpopulation problem.
The base closed in 1999. In April the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a land swap with South Orange County Community College District, paving the way for construction. A section of the former base was set aside for this project.
"We are thrilled to see this project finally moving forward," said Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, the chairwoman of the board. "Our new county animal shelter is warm and inviting. Parents will bring their children. People will want to come back."