2015 will be a year of change at King County International Airport/Boeing Field in Seattle as Landmark Aviation begins redeveloping its recently acquired property on the east side of the field.
One of the first buildings to go is the 3,600-square-foot structure that housed The Aviator’s Store, a pilot supply and gift company. For the past 32 years, the owner, Nancy Griffith, had been supplying pilots with flight jackets to fuel strainers while the online Aviation Book Co. supplied books and educational materials.
Griffith decided to retire in June, and put the business up for sale. Although she hoped to find a buyer, it was not to be, so she closed the doors Sept. 30
For years Griffith leased 2,400 square feet of showroom and 1,200 feet of warehouse space from Galvin Flying Services, which held a total of 20 acres at the airport.
In February, Galvin was purchased by Landmark Aviation, one of largest FBO chains in the world. Griffith, and other Galvin tenants, were advised that Landmark planned to redevelop the property, which would require demolishing the 1960s-era buildings.
King County Airport officials note the plans for the demolition of the older buildings pre-dated Landmark’s acquisition of the property, but the arrival of Landmark made the plans blossom sooner.
“When we took over the leasehold we inherited three tenants,” stated Charlie Ferraro, regional vice president for Landmark Aviation. “When the Aviator’s Store went out of business, that left us with two tenants. We are working with those tenants now to find them new space.”
The two remaining tenants are National Aviation, an aircraft and pilot supply company, and The Aviation Training Center, a family owned business that specializes in pilot training using flight training devices in addition to leaseback aircraft. National and ATC occupy an 8,173-square-foot building across the street from the former Aviator’s Store.
“We have been told that our building is not going to be demolished in the immediate future,” said Don Brandt, owner of National Aviation. “We have been in this location for 20 years. Before this we were at the north end of the airport for 10 years.”
National carries parts for aircraft. It is hard to find an aircraft owner in the Seattle area who hasn’t purchased something — a gasket, a tool or an engine part — from the company. Brandt has added aviation sectionals — which were formerly carried by The Aviator’s Store — to the company’s product line and he is looking at expanding the merchandise line to include more pilot supplies. In addition, National Aviation is now open on Saturdays to accommodate the weekend pilots who often shopped at the Aviator’s Store.
Brandt’s neighbors at The Aviation Training Center are taking a more proactive stance with the new landlord.
Marie Campbell, vice president of the Aviation Training Center, has already begun looking at potential new locations at KBFI.
“We have been told that the building will not be demolished, however it’s our understanding that when the Aviator’s Store building is being demolished that Landmark needs this space to do their maintenance in,” said Campbell, who owns the business with her husband Spence. “We have met with the people from Landmark to see if they can use just the back half of the building for that so we can stay in the front. They are thinking about it, but you never know.”
Moving a business is never easy, but it’s been done before, Campbell noted.
“We came to Boeing Field in 1996. At first we occupied a 2,000-square-foot space above The Aviator’s Store. Then in September 2001 we moved across the street to our current location, which is about 4,600 square feet. Then Sept. 11 happened.”
Many of ATC’s customers have been coming to them for years, she said, noting the company is known for its safety seminars, proficiency training, and airline interview prep courses.
There are a lot of concerns to moving yet again. Campbell says she is concerned that if the company is no longer in a stand-alone building, customers may have difficulty finding them. The company needs at least 3,000 square feet, she noted. And, of course, moving everything, especially the simulators, is a complicated process that will require hiring technicians from California to help with the move.
But nothing can be done right now.
“Landmark has been very gracious to work with, although we have not been given a timeline on when we need to move,” she said.
That is because a timeline has not been established yet, said Ferraro.
“But we are hoping the demolition will be in the first quarter of next year,” he said. “We need that space to build a new terminal and for ramp space. The current ramp can get quite crowded.”
The new building will contain approximately 6,000 feet, which will house the staff of Landmark at KBFI. Currently, staff is spread out in two buildings.
Ferraro notes that the new building will fill up quickly, as
conference rooms, a pilot lounge, vending areas, charter offices and accounting will be all under one roof.