Tenants take flight as hangar demolition nears
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.”