Two years ago pilots and airport officials at Buchanan Field (CCR) in Concord, Calif., were fighting a developer’s plan to close the airport to make way for homes and a shopping center. When the FAA and the local community raised objections, the developer dropped the idea.
It was then that — finally — airport officials could switch their focus from protecting the airport to enhancing it. They saw the fruits of their labor last month when airport officials joined with a local elected official who had led the redevelopment charge in symbolically turning dirt for construction of a new jet hangar.
“I love airports,” said Mark DeSaulnier, the county supervisor turned state assemblyman who had lobbied for closing the airport to make way for the proposed development.
The 40,000-square-foot hangar has been a long time coming, notes Airport Manager Keith Freitas.
“The idea survived the dot.com bust, it survived Sept. 11, it’s been through the ‘let’s look at closing the airport’ thing and then last week they broke ground on the new hangar,” he said. “The developer has wanted this for a long, long time and they have been through some hurdles, to say the least.”
The hangar belongs to Concord Jet Service Inc. It provides aircraft cleaning, detailing and light maintenance for jets and turbo prop aircraft. It started in the 1970s as the aviation arm of Hofmann Construction and Land Development.
“Mr. Hofmann wanted to own an airplane and built a hangar for himself and then he built them for some of his friends and then there were more hangars and then the company sort of spilt off,” says Bob Johnson, vice president and general manager.
He concurs with Freitas that it took a long time to go from the idea stage to a shovel full of dirt.
“I wrote the first letter to start this process on April 13, 1999, requesting the use of the land and requesting the release of it from the FAA — and we have just now turned dirt,” he said.
Johnson notes that several business aircraft owners have already contacted the company about availability of space in the new facility.
In addition to the hangar, a Jet-A fuel tank is under construction and expected to be ready for use by the end of April. With the opening of the fueling service, the business will become a fixed base operation, according to Johnson.
“We’re planning to offer only Jet-A at first, but we will be doing a survey to see if there is a market for 100LL as well,” he said. “If we add that, it will most likely be a self-service facility.”
Anderson predicts the new hangar will be ready to accept tenants by November. It will be able to house four or five executive jets at one time.
Buchanan Field is a reliever field for the San Francisco Bay Area. Built during World War II, it was deeded to Contra Costa County after the war and is one of two publicly owned airports in the county.
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