Funding for airport hangar approved

The second time was the charm for the Port of Bremerton — Community Econ-omic Revitalization Board (CERB) funding for its FBO hangar project was approved Thursday, a little more than two months after the port’s application was initially rejected.

“We’re pleased about that,” said port real property manger Tim Thompson.

Although the port was eligible for up to $1 million in CERB money, it only requested $432,000. This will pay for only part of the hangar, the cost of which is estimated at $2.1 million.

The hangar was designed to have more than 15,000 square feet of space over two stories. It will sit where the current long-term parking lot is now, just south of the main terminal building.

The hangar will serve as a fixed base of operations for pilots, a service the airport does not currently have. It will have not only enough room to hold 10 single-engine Cessnas, but space for offices, a maintenance shop, a parts and supplies store, a flight simulator, and facilities for flight instruction and charter operations.

The majority of the space will be leased by long-time airport tenant Avian Aeronautics, which will also take over management of fuel sales starting next month. They were originally slated to take over this month, but negotiations took longer than expected.

“Just some final legal things to get ironed out,” said airport manager Fred Salisbury. “I know we’re really close.”

Avian, which until now has largely been in the airplane repair and maintenance business until now, launched its offshoot operations in the airport’s terminal March 2. The first offerings include a pilot’s store, flight school and aircraft rental agency. According to port officials, business is already booming.

“They’ve been doing very well,” Salisbury said. “It’s really a nice pilot’s shop down there. For a smaller airport like this, it’s really well-stocked.”

The original CERB application was turned down because funding officials felt the hangar would not do enough to stimulate business. CERB funding is only offered to projects which are designed to revitalize the local economy.

The port, however, re-submitted its request along with letters of support from the county and the Port Orchard City Council. Port officials felt independent endorsements of the project would help convince the CERB board of the project’s worth.

“To get that kind of community support adds a lot to our application,” Thompson said.

If the port had been turned down again, Thompson said they still would have gone forward with the project. However, it would have come at the expense of other port planning.

As it is, the $432,000 will be paid back over 20 years at a 2.8 percent interest rate. Most of the rest of the money for the hangar will come from the port’s airport capital reserve fund. Salisbury said some projects can be juggled a bit to come up with the last few dollars, but said that may not be necessary.

“It all depends on the (construction) bid price turns out to be,” he said.

The CERB funding is subject to availability, and Thompson said currently requests exceed CERB funds. However, he doesn’t anticipate that throwing a wrench in the port’s plans.

“(CERB officials) have anticipated more funds are coming in, so I don’t expect that will be a problem,” Thompson said.

Construction bids for the hangar are expected to go out April 2.

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