The creation of a large, modern hangar at the Roswell International Air Center, a facility many consider key to future job and business growth in the area, is moving a step forward following a Roswell City Council vote last week to procure a development plan.
The City Council voted unanimously to approve both the contract and funding during its Nov. 8 meeting. The money will come from an airport reserve fund.
The development plan is intended to develop site plans and cost estimates for a hangar complex and to identify possible financing methods or investment incentives, as well as future rental rates for the hangar, now planned for the south portion of the airfield. The plan is expected to be finished by the end of January so that funding requests to the New Mexico Legislature can be made during the 2019 session.
“The idea with all this is to come up with a complete product that we can take both to the legislature for infrastructure funding to work on this sort of thing or we can take to potential tenants,” said Air Center Director Scott Stark during the City Council meeting. “Over the years, we have waited for people to come to us or we have sought out those who would be our tenants at conferences and such, but at the end we came down to those questions, what would cost be? Where would it go? How long would it take? Those are the questions we seek to answer with this.”
Dennis Corsi, president of Armstrong Consulting, said that the concept is to build a hangar suitable for large aircraft.
“It is a wide-body style and type of hangar, basically Boeing Triple Sevens (777),” he said. “There are some larger aircraft out there, such as the Boeing 747 and the Airbus 8380 aircraft. But that market is kind of speculative, and the sweet spot right now is really that wide-body Boeing Triple Seven-type hangar. That provides an opportunity to hit the right value in terms of cost of the facility and the market, whereas going with something like a 8380 or a 747 could be overbuilding the facility, where there would be additional costs and maybe not the market for that additional size.”
As discussed by members of the City of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission and Armstrong Consulting over several meetings, most of the existing hangars at the airfield, many of which were built in the 1940s and 1950s, are either too small for the large commercial aircraft used today or are too old, lacking the electrical systems, security systems, fire suppression systems and structural integrity needed for work on complex avionics and airframes.
Once built, according to city staff and Armstrong personnel, the hangar will provide Roswell with a competitive advantage for businesses looking for such facilities and will be an additional draw for an airfield that already touts its long runways, proximity to military airfields and weather and climate conditions.
“There are some up-and-coming facilities in the region, but this would be the only one that I know of in New Mexico,” said Corsi, “and that’s the idea, to attract these opportunities to New Mexico. And Roswell is a really good fit.”
According to documents provided to the City Council by Armstrong Consulting, the hangar at this time could be a hangar/office facility, a hangar/warehouse complex or a combination of both. Its two bays would be able to accommodate a wide-body aircraft or four narrow-body aircraft in each bay. Part of the task of the development plan is to determine which of the three possibilities would be more suitable and marketable. A hangar/office complex is seen as being useful for aircraft maintenance and repair, aircraft painting and refurbishment, and aircraft testing, while a hangar/warehouse complex is described as more suitable for storage and inventories of aircraft and equipment or parts.
In addition to creating renderings and civil engineering and utility plans, the development study will determine total construction costs and future lease rates. That would then provide the information needed to determine what types of funding or investment would be required for construction and to seek legislative assistance if necessary to make lease rates competitive with other markets.
“This is has been a topic that we have discussed for five years since I’ve been in office,” said Mayor Dennis Kintigh, who told the City Council that he was addressing the topic given his role as chair of the Airport Advisory Commission. “We’ve struggled with what does this really look like. This study here will give us some firm numbers.”
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.