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Tenants take flight as hangar demolition nears
Nancy Lavin
Beacon photos
LOOK OUT FOR TRAFFIC: Hangar 1, which juts into the safety area of Runway 34-16, will be torn down with demolition crews on site this coming Monday. This edge of the building appears to be about 100 feet from the runway. The distant aircraft is waiting to use Green’s longer runway.

With the demolition of T. F. Green’s Hangar 1 on Airport Road set to begin Monday, several general aviation-related businesses and private planes have been forced to relocate.

Horizon Aviation, which offers a flight school and general aviation services, will move to Hangar 3 after 30 years at Hangar 1. The move was set for today.

President Zeke Valtz explained that although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mentioned taking down the hangar as early as the 1970s, it didn’t become serious until about 2006.

Even then, Valtz said the deadline for moving out was undefined and fuzzy.

Chief Financial Officer for the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) Brian Schattle explained that while notice was officially given to the businesses and planes in Hangar 1 in the spring, the project had been in the planning and design phases for a long, long time.

The demolition of Hangar 1 is part of a series of airport construction projects totaling $250 million over the next four years, according to a previous Beacon report. The FAA requires the demolition of Hangar 1 in order to extend the runway safety area for Runway 34-16, which is currently the airport’s shortest.

Since the FAA issued the final move-out deadline of June 30 about three months ago, Valtz has been working with RIAC to find a new home for the 75 percent of office and hangar space Horizon currently owns at Hangar 1.

“RIAC was very reasonable,” Valtz said. “My experience was that the relationship was as constructive as I could have hoped for, given the fact that it’s an enormous state agency.”

Valtz added that he thinks some of the other businesses in Hangar 1 did not have as good of a relationship with RIAC.

Despite these suspicions, Schattle said that RIAC has not received any negative feedback from the businesses in Hangar 1.

“If anything, for such a major transition, it went about as smoothly as possible,” Schattle said.

In addition to the flight school, Horizon had about 20 tenants with small general aviation planes who have been displaced. Some have moved to hangars in Quonset or Westerly, while others have simply sold their planes, according to Valtz.

While Valtz said he would have preferred to stay in his current location, he has hired three new employees as a result of the move, including one from the now-closed Providence Air Motive, which was also in Hangar 1. Valtz also purchased equipment from the business, which will allow Horizon to offer in-house maintenance and repairs.

RIAC estimated that the hangar demolition would cost about $2.07 million, according to a previous Beacon report. Cardi Construction won the bid for the job at $878,878 at the west end on the runway. Runway 34-16 will remain closed until Thanksgiving, when work on extending the runway safety area to FAA requirements is complete. The contract for construction of the safety area on the east end of the runway has not yet been awarded.

“It’s a safety regulation, which means its a main priority for us,” said Schattle. “We were very pleased to secure the funding for this and have it included as part of our capital improvements plan.”


Comments
2 comments on this item

Time will tell on the overall 4 year plan; based on this article, it appears that all projects are anticipated to be completed sometime by mid to the latter part of 2017. Personally, based on prior history of government involved construction projects, I foresee an overall delay in the final completion time(maybe into 2018?) & additional costs when all projects/improvements are done(new athletic fields/glycol treatment/relocation of part of Main Ave. & maybe some unforeseen costs/effects that weren't anticipated/planned for).

$250 million is a very big pill for RIAC to swallow. The current Republican Party has cut deeply into transportation funding. Airport Improvement Funds are being used to keep control towers open and pay air traffic controller salaries leaving very little for runway extensions etc. RIAC has almost no capacity to pay for such nice-to-haves as moving ball fields, rebuilding Main Avenue, and soundproofing the old Lockwood High School -- a project that they overlooked during the EIS process which suddenly popped up after the FAA Record of Decision. RIAC still has to deal with the possibility of finding Indian grave sites in the new Main Avenue allignment or the path of the runway extension. Lots of balls still in the air.

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