$25 Million Airport Expansion Set

$25 Million Airport Expansion Set

Construction to begin in early 2017 on new terminal, business center

by Lee Allen

Construction is expected to take flight in 2017 for a new Scottsdale Airport terminal and Aviation Business Center, a project that is expected to be completed in April 2018.

A recent update to the airport’s master plan and a subsequent market analysis made clear that “we needed more executive-hangar space,” according to Aviation Director Gary Mascaro. “As we explored how and where to accomplish that, the obvious choice became a currently underutilized terminal area, including the terminal building itself and the existing office complex. A new partnership agreement with private parties will allow us to do that with lease payments providing the funding to construct the $25 million endeavor.”

The project will be financed through Municipal Property Corporation bonds issued by the City and paid with revenue from the lease agreements and ancillary business permit fees. Those revenues are expected to cover debt payments for 20 years.

Project partners are the aircraft charter company Gemini Air Group, which will lease hangar facilities, and Maza Concepts, which will lease retail and office space for a restaurant to be known as The Brick.

“We had a good response to our project request for proposals with nearly 40 attendees at our pre-bid meeting,” Mascaro says. “Of the proposals received, the evaluation committee unanimously selected Gemini, a firm with a strong history at the airport and the Airpark. They’ve been a faithful tenant here and they came forward with a fantastic business relationship and a specific plan. We’re excited to help them—and us—continue to grow.”

Now airport engineers and architects will create a full design based on the preliminary concept by Meade and Hunt along with DWL architects.

“Once we finalize the full design process with input from all parties, we hope to start demolition of the existing facilities in February 2017.”

Solicitations are already out for a combined demolition/construction contractor with proposal evaluations and a proposed contractor selection award to go to the City Council for approval in June.

“We’ll all be moved out in one shot in advance of the bulldozers and wrecking ball,” Mascaro says. “The plan of attack for the terminal area is to demolish the old aviation business center north of the terminal immediately after airport operations personnel have relocated to a nearby office building. That should be our temporary home for about a year. Leases for all other tenants will expire before demolition/construction begins and the U.S. Customs service will move into temporary trailer facilities.”

Officials are soliciting for contractors early to allow them to be a full partner as the City goes through the design process in detail, working with City engineers and architects to finalize plans.

“When that happens, all partners will have touched it, felt it and know what the costs and timelines will be,” Mascaro says.

“If all goes well, bulldozers will appear right after the start of 2017 with anticipated completion in April 2018.”

Mascaro emphasizes the project is a proactive measure with an eye toward the future.

“Our future forecast is pegged on more and larger aircraft operating in and out of here and we were at a point where we felt the need to expand. This is part of meeting anticipated needs for future demand.

“We’re not building a bigger building. Office space isn’t the goal for an airport. In fact, we’ll shrink office space by 10,000 square feet. We don’t want to be in the office rental business because we’re here to provide aviation support services, to maximize the aviation component on this campus.”

The project will include two executive hangars built to the LEED energy-efficient design standards of the U.S. Green Building Council; a modern office complex and restaurant area; a banquet and meeting facility, and a parking garage to fully maximize use of airport-owned land. Contract negotiations are underway to potentially add a rental car company.

In addition, a nonprofit organization headed up by former Airport Advisory Commissioner Steve Ziomek is raising funds to add an art component that will celebrate the airport’s rich history as a World War II training field.

The retrofit makes Gemini Air Group, an aircraft management company and on-demand air carrier founded in 1997, as the new big man on campus. Not a bad success record for founder/president/owner Tim Carpay, a former Vancouver resident who flew float planes as a teenager.

In a previous interview with Scottsdale Airpark News, Carpay noted: “Every client we’ve had started as a charter client. They buy an airplane and put it with us (because) they like the way we do things.” Still pulling occasional pilot duty for owners’ trips, he dreamed of investing in a consolidated office/hangar space and now that wish has come true.

“We got our ducks lined up, worked hard on the proposal and presentation, and came out the winner. The next two years will give us a slow and steady climb up the hill to get to where we want to be and we’ll be involved in the process every step of the way.”

Each of Gemini’s two 30,000-square-foot hangars will house its own fleet (a Global Express, two Challengers and two Hawker 850s). Part of one hangar will be dedicated to maintenance operations and fuel sales.

Caterer Dee Dee Maza is already known to Airpark customers for her terminal eatery, Zulu Café. She’s ready to take that food service to new heights.

“We’ve been slowly building our relationships with hangar owners, but with the terminal expansion, it’s time for us to grow, too,” she says. “We’ll lease office and restaurant space for a seven-day-a-week, breakfast-lunch-dinner dining facility (The Brick) and will be the exclusive caterer for hangar banquets.

“We’re rebranding as Volanti (Latin for flying) Jet Catering and Hangar Events. Private jet catering is a unique niche. It’s a whole different animal and we’re good at what we do. We have an aeronautical permit and, after 30 years as a caterer, we know the rules. Adding this service isn’t much different from what we’ve been doing. We’ll add some employee hours to ramp up as required to cater to private jet needs for everything from shrimp cocktails to sandwich trays.”

Summing up the ambitious endeavor, Mascaro says, “The revenue generated will cover the cost of debt services to build the facilities, so we’re not building and hoping they will come. We’re building because they’re already here.”

Reflecting on the City Council’s unanimous vote to move forward with this project, Mayor J.W. “Jim” Lane says, “The airport is an important self-sustaining enterprise that serves both the community and our visitors ‘in the Scottsdale way’ and this project will ensure a quality continuation of that success.”