Construction to begin on airport hangars


— Construction for 16 new hangars at the Steamboat Springs Airport should get under way next week, a project expecting to generate close to $20,000 a year for the city.

The construction is starting almost a year later than when the city had hoped. Last fall, the city went back to the drawing board after receiving little interest in larger, more expensive hangars and higher fuel-purchase requirements.

In December, the City Council approved a plan for 16 large-to small-size hangars. Nine of those hangars have been sold, allowing developer Michael Dunn to get a construction loan and to move forward with the project.

City Airport Manager Matt Grow said light work would begin next week with heavier earthwork expected to follow in a week and a half. Expectations are to have the hangars finished by December.

"The airport needs the hangars for financial reasons, for service reasons, for airport safety reasons," Grow said. "There are nothing but positive reasons to build these hangars."

Ground leases from the hangars will generate $15,786 next year and will increase by 3 percent each year for the 40-year length of the lease. Each hangar will have a minimum 300-gallon fuel-purchasing requirement per year. One dollar per gallon goes to the city, bringing in another $300 per hangar.

The money generated from the hangars -- in addition to Smartwool's lease of the terminal -- will bring the city's annual operating cost close to being in the black, Grow said. Just two years ago, the city subsidized the general aviation airport by more than $100,000 a year for operations.

The city also is paying off a $2.8 million debt for the 1992 construction of the airport terminal. That debt will be paid off in 2009.

Of the six large hangars, which range from 2,784 to 3,000 square feet, all but one has been sold. Of the seven small-size hangars, which are 1,428 square feet, two have been sold, and of the three mid-size hangars ranging from 1,600 to 2,000 square feet, two have been sold.

All 16 hangars will be built by December, Grow said. He is hoping once airplane owners see the hangars go up, interest will increase.

Dunn had to revise the plans last fall when just three of the proposed 10 hangars were pre-sold more than six months after the city closed on a lease agreement. They had hoped to begin construction last summer.

The original hangar arrangement proposed larger and higher-end hangars and required owners to buy between 1,900 to 3,000 gallons of fuel per year.

Before agreeing to lease 30 acres of hangar space to Dunn, the city had a list of 45 names from people waiting for hangars. Many of those on the list weren't willing to pay the $144,000 to $250,000 per hangar in the original plan, Grow said. Also, fewer people than expected wanted to share the cost of hangars, which made the old minimum fuel purchasing requirements too steep.

About 35 people are still on the hangar waiting list, Grow said.


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