Keona Gardner TCPALM
St. Lucie County says its New Airport Hangar Will Spark Economic Interest
April 25, 2017
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  • A new, 30,000-square-foot aircraft-maintenance hangar at Treasure Coast International Airport and Business Park would be large enough to fit two Boeing 737s from nose to tail.

    County officials on Tuesday unveiled the design at the MRO Americas trade show in Orlando. The annual maintenance, repair and overhaul trade show brings together airlines, aviation manufacturers, suppliers and government officials to discuss industry topics.

    The $5 million hangar would be built on 4 acres near the air-traffic control tower, Airport Manager John Wiatrak said.

    Officials expect to seek contractors between July and September.

    “I would like to have shovels hitting the ground by November and for construction to last about a year,” Wiatrak said.

    The project would be paid for with a $2.5 million state grant and $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Division of Economic Development Administration. The county would pay the remaining $1 million.

    The hangar is needed to help spark economic development at the 3,844-acre general-aviation airport, northwest of downtown Fort Pierce. It already has 130 tenants — 50 operating businesses and 80 individuals or businesses that rent hangars to store personal aircraft, according to county records.

    Businesses at the airport employ a total of about 1,300 people with a $50 million payroll, according to the county.

    The airport handles more than 160,000 flight operations annually, with 22,000 flights clearing U.S. Customs each year.

    The hangar would be marketed to aviation-repair companies, yet it also could help the county land commercial air services.

    “Airline companies don’t want to do their maintenance at an airport where they don’t fly in and out,” Wiatrak said. “They want everything to be in one location, where planes would fly in and out. Having to fly into one city for flights and another for service would defeat the company’s purpose.”

    County officials in December met with representatives of BahamasAir, who expressed interest in beginning flights to and from the Bahamas. However, no further meetings have been held.