Airport seeing building boom as hangar needs remain - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Airport seeing building boom as hangar needs remain

August 28th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Airport seeing building boom as hangar needs remain

By Ken Sain
STSN Managing Editor

It was mid-afternoon on a Friday and the skies above Chandler Municipal Airport were turning ominous. A storm was coming. 

Airport Manager Ryan Reeves said he sent one of his employees out to make sure all the aircraft were tied down properly – you know, so they didn’t become unmanned flying aircraft.

A lack of hangar space at Chandler Airport requires that planes be tied down if they’re outside so they won’t be damaged by high winds.

But the city is moving forward with a plan to address that need. 

With about 100 acres of open space to develop inside the airport fence, a building boom is likely coming. The city issued a request for proposals, offering some of that land for development. 

An existing fixed base operator, Chandler Air Services, was one of three companies to bid on the 1.6-acre site just north of the airport terminal that used to be house Venture Aviation. Their bid was accepted.

“We don’t have any hangar of any sizable size, in terms of hosting of hangering medium-sized jets or turboprops,” said Thomas Mathew, president and CEO of GateOne, which acquired Chandler Air Services. 

Mathew says they do have a large hangar, about 50,000 square feet, at the airport, but that it’s not tall enough to host some of the larger planes. They need a taller facility for those.

Reeves pointed outside to the threatening weather when asked why they need more hangar space.

“If you have a plane worth $17 million, do you want to leave it out in that?” he said. “Or, in the Arizona sun in the summer? They have a lot of sensitive computers in those planes.”

According to the lease agreement, which Council approved on Aug. 18, Chandler Air Services would tear down the old Venture Aviation hangar and replace it with a new 14,400 square foot hangar with very tall doors. 

Mathew said they should be able to host up to six medium-sized planes at a time.

In addition to the hangar, Mathew plans to build about 3,000 square feet of office space. Construction has to be completed within two years of the lease going into effect.

The monthly rent will be $3,642 once the new building is occupied. The lease calls for the developer to pay only 15% of that, or $253.50 per month, during the demolition and construction phases.

The term of the lease is 20 years, with two 10-year options to renew.

“If the demand is there, I’m not opposed to building more hangars,” Mathew said.

Reeves said he is confident the demand is there. All Valley airports have seen an increase in planes looking for a place to park when they’re not in use.

“No, that demand hasn’t slipped off at all,” Reeves said. “There’s something of a building boom going on right now at the airports in the Valley that have the space to develop.”

The new hangar Chandler Air Services ends a drought of many years for new development at the airport. Reeves said they were unable to build because they were going through a master plan adoption.

“When the [Federal Aviation Administration] gives you a big pile of money to do that, it’s really bad to say, ‘Hey, in the middle of this, we’re going to completely change this up and write it and invalidate a lot of this study,’ they tend to get upset about that. And given we depend upon them, as do all public airports, for a lot of capital investment.”

So any new building at the airport was shelved until the master plan was completed. It was completed in March 2021. The RFP for the first building project when out in August of that year.

Reeves said he knows some Chandler pilots are storing their aircraft at other airports, including Casa Grande, because of the lack of space at Valley airports. He said that’s why he believes there will be a lot more building of hangars at his airport.

“We think there’s enough demand to continue with RFPs,” Reeves said. “Now, the next release hasn’t been determined. But I’m told that we will be relatively aggressive.”