Terminal redevelopment gets off the ground at Scottsdale Airport

 

The Scottsdale Airport’s million dollar upgrade is cleared for take-off, after top city officials began demolition in a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday, July 12.

An early morning ceremony took place inside the Scottsdale Airport terminal, 15000 N. Airport Drive, commencing the redevelopment project upgrading and enhancing the aviation center.

Foregoing the traditional shovel and dirt, Mayor Jim Lane, Aviation Director Gary Mascaro and members of city council instead began the terminal’s tear-down.

Armed with hardhats and sledge hammers, the morning exercise garnered smiles all around as councilmembers Kathy Littlefield, Suzanne Klapp, Guy Phillips and Mr. Mascaro joined Mayor Lane in breaking through a wall.

The Scottsdale Airport counted 164,000 landings and departures during 2016 and is regarded as one of the nation’s premier corporate jet facilities, creating $536 million total economic benefits for the region in fiscal year 2014-15.

The Terminal Area Redevelopment project will bring two new executive hangars, a new Aviation Business Center and the Scottsdale Airport Thunderbird Field II Plaza.

The new Aviation Business Center is planned to include a public plaza, restaurant, event venue, airport administration offices, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection office, as well as other significant dwellings.

The $27 million cost will be financed through city-issued bonds, airport officials say. In May 2017, $23.5 million of municipal property corp. long term debt was issued to finance the redevelopment project. Due to a favorable market, an additional $1.7 million of premium was received, totaling the projecting funding at $25.2 million.

This does not include the Scottsdale Airport Thunderbird Field II Plaza as tourism development funds will help back that, city leaders speculate.

The city issues these bonds and are paid with revenue from the lease agreements and ancillary business permit fees. Revenues generated directly from the new project will cover debt payments over 20 years, city officials say.

On July 5, Scottsdale City Council approved on consent a contract awarding JE Dunn Construction for a guaranteed maximum price of $14.2 million, for the first phase of the redevelopment project. Additionally, a city project contingency of $440,927 was awarded. Mead & Hunt is the engineering firm.

Both the existing airport terminal building and the aviation business center will be replaced with the new aviation business center.

“We’ve very proud of this airport — we have every reason to be,” Mayor Lane said.

“One of the reasons is, you can call it a revitalization, a redevelopment, but it’s an evolution on the airport and what we do here in Scottsdale to continue to improve every aspect of Scottsdale’s experience for our tourists and our residents and our businesses.”

Scottsdale Airport

An artist’s rendering of the future Aviation Business Center at Scottsdale Airport. (submitted graphic)

The new vision

Within the most recent update of the airport’s Master Plan, completed by Coffman Associates, was a need for more executive hangar space to accommodate growth. Airport officials say this fact is what began the redevelopment project.

Douglas Davies, partner of D.M.D. Real Estate Group, validated this notion, saying Scottsdale Airport’s property is too valuable not to utilize efficiently and wisely.

The Scottsdale Airport has a long history dating back to World War II, when it served as a training facility for pilots. The construction that took place in the 1960s and 1970s is now in need of an update to best serve its purpose.

While modernizing and expanding its potential, the WWII history will not disappear as a Boeing-Stearman PT-17 will now call Scottsdale Airport home.

“The airport has a rich history in this community, this project will continue to embrace that,” said Sarah Ferrara, aviation planning and outreach coordinator, in a July 12 statement. “There will be an art component, public plaza and a veterans memorial. The Aviation Business Center will offer residents and visitors a place to meet, dine, walk around and enjoy aircraft…not to mention honor those who served.”

The new design promises great views of the luxurious airplanes flying in and out, Mayor Lane notes, calling it an experience for everyone.

“The start of the project marks the city’s commitment to keep Scottsdale Airport one of the premier airports and corporate jet facilities in the nation,” Mayor Lane said.

Mr. Mascaro outlined his vision for the airport, noting it as a utility for businesses owners within the area.

“That is no longer the vision, the vision now is what we just talked about — hangar space, a new office building complex, beautiful restaurant, banquet meeting venue,” Mr. Mascaro explained, of the 1969 original construction aiming to serve scheduled flights.

“Here to accommodate not only the folks that operate on the airport everyday but the customers and users in the surrounding airpark area and in the city of Scottsdale to come visit this airport and appreciate this gem we have right here.”

When working on the Master Plan, Mr. Mascaro says they wanted to not only maintain the value of Scottsdale Airport, but exceed it.

“This project will be solidifying us as ranking one of the top airports in the county,” he said. “I’m not sure of any aviation airports similar to us that’s undertaking such a large task, and then working with our business partners.”

In addition to the aviation campus, the surrounding business and industrial area — generally called the Scottsdale Airpark — is regarded as the second largest employment center in Arizona, according to city officials.

More than 1,400 aviation-related jobs are on the airport and in the airpark, a 2014 Scottsdale economic analysis shows.

“I’m very proud to have the opportunity to operate and manage this airport, being here for about seven years,” Mr. Mascaro said. “Being in the aviation industry for 20-something years now, I look at other airports that are comparable to us, I gotta say there really are not many airports that are close to what Scottsdale has.”

A view of a WWII-era Boeing Stearman PT-17 Biplane. (Submitted photo)

A historic touch

The airport was originally Thunderbird Field II — one of three Thunderbird Fields in the Valley — and was used to train World War II Army Air Corps pilots.

Arizona State Teachers College, now Arizona State University, acquired the field after the war for its aviation program before it was sold to the Arizona Conference of Seventh Day Adventists in 1953.

The city of Scottsdale purchased the airfield portion in 1966 and continues to operate it today.

The memorial will include a Boeing-Stearman PT-17 as well as a park-like plaza to showcase the field’s history and contribution to World War II. This aircraft is similar to those flown during the field’s World War II flight training days.

To bring this memorial into reality, the nonprofit organization Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial, Inc. will provide the Boeing-Stearman PT-17 and artifacts while the city will fund the structure itself.

The projected cost of the plaza’s construction and design is $412,500, according to a city staff report from a Jan. 24 council meeting.

Steve Ziomek, airport advisory committee commissioner, is among those credited in organizing the historic gesture, and organizing its implementation.

“It’s going to be a wonderful centerpiece in what I like to call the 50-yard line, for not only folks that are coming in from all over the country that travel, but for the community,” Mr. Mascaro said.

Councilman Phillips has been an advocate for the approving the memorial site, saying he wants to continue telling the historic story of Scottsdale Airport.

“We want to maintain our history, we want especially our children to know where our airport came from and where it’s going,” Councilman Phillips said July 12.

“This is going to be — in 50, 100 years, it’s going to be here. I had to make sure it happened, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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