Airport may get 11 new hangars |

Airport may get 11 new hangars

Council considering proposal tonight

— After giving the airport manager the go-ahead in December to consider private hangar construction at Steamboat Springs Airport, the City Council will decide tonight if it wants to allow a contractor to actually build those hangars.

The council will decide on two issues tonight regarding the 11 hangars Dunn Properties out of Denver wants to construct on city property in four buildings totaling 31,464 square feet. First it will discuss the development permit the company needs to begin to build and then the terms of the ground lease for the city property.

Dunn Properties has been attempting to place hangars just northeast of the terminal since it responded to a city request for proposals in January 2001. The city has been hesitant over the past year to commit to any new construction at the airport, which lost commercial service in 1995. The city was criticized heavily for the debt taxpayers still pay on the unused $2.8 million terminal at the airport. Former City Council President Kevin Bennett and others had urged caution at the idea of the city “growing” out of the problems at the airport.

Debt payments on the terminal, currently in the vicinity of $400,000 per year, will be going down in the next few years.

An airport debate put the hangar issue on hold for a few months while city officials discussed options for the airport, including the possibility of closing it down. But in December, City Council members asserted the city would keep the airport as a general aviation facility and direct the airport manager to try to increase revenues.

Airport Manager Matt Grow has proposed the hangar development as a remedy to two problems at the airport.

First, the airport is attempting to pull itself out of the red and become economically self-sufficient. The airport is currently subsidized by the city to the tune of more than $100,000 per year in operations.

“We’re working our way up to zero,” Transportation Director George Krawzoff said.

The city estimates new hangars would bring in about $60,000 from ground lease payments and fuel sales from the city-owned fixed base operator fuel center once planes begin to inhabit the hangars. That estimate is based on the assumption that the airplanes that would park in the hangars would be new to the facility and therefore new fuel buyers. If they are current planes that already buy fuel and would not bring in new fuel revenues, the city may make more in the vicinity of $40,000 per year, Krawzoff said.

City officials note the airport also brings money to the city in the form of the commercial boost to the tourism economy from commuters who fly their private planes into the airport and from the companies who fly out of Steamboat Springs Airport.

In addition, the airport is low on hangar space. The city has a waiting list 45 names long for spots in a hangar. Many operators who use their planes as often as every other day have to park them outside, where they can become covered in ice or snow, Grow said.

The owners of Dunn Properties, a company that has never developed hangars in the past, realized they could capitalize on the lack of hangars available, said project manager Brad Henderson.

The biggest obstacle to developing the hangars is the fact that the site is well below developable grade in some places. At points, the site is 15 feet below the level the developers need, meaning they will have to bring in about 30,000 cubic yards of fill from another site. The developers, in fact, want to use dirt from another parcel at the airport to fill the hole, Henderson said.

“A lot of money is going in below the foundation,” Henderson said.

An adjacent private property owner has objected to the idea of removing the dirt, claiming it could adversely affect “drainage, visibility, marketing and traffic flow.”

The city Planning Commission voted 3-2 to recommend approval of the development permit. The two commissioners voting against the project, Dana Stopher and David Baldinger Jr., cited architectural concerns, said Planning Commission Chairwoman Kathi Meyer.

Construction of the hangars could begin as early as March or April, Henderson said.

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