Last month the Super Bowl brought more than airplanes to Arizona’s Glendale Municipal Airport (KGEU) — it also brought potential buyers for property located on the airport. At least that’s the hope of Brian Hufft, chief financial officer of Glendale Hangars.
Glendale Hangars is selling 103 hangars, along with a number of shade rows and 11 acres of open land for development on the south end of the airport, which is about 30 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix, Hufft explains.According to Hufft, the hangars, built in the late 1980s to early 1990s, were primarily used as rental space. The spaces have since been refurbished and are now going to a condo-type situation where the tenant owns the hangar and the City of Glendale owns the ground lease.
The structures range from T-hangars measuring 44.5 feet wide and 38 feet deep for $31,000 to units 38 feet wide and 29.5 feet deep, which start at $27,000. There is a hangar association for each row of hangars and an association fee to cover maintenance, insurance, and utilities. Internet access is available and each hangar has a private lock.
The topic of hangars is a sensitive issue at Glendale Municipal, notes Airport Manager Walter Fix, because in recent years there have been disagreements and lawsuits filed over what tenants are allowed to keep in the hangars.
Fix explains that the leases stipulate that the hangars are to be used for aviation storage, and any non-aviation use puts the city in non-compliance with FAA rules — and non-compliance jeopardizes the city’s eligibility for FAA funds.
The controversy began in 2009 when the FAA cracked down on the non-aviation use of hangars across the country. Some hangars were being used as storage for household goods, such as bedroom furniture, appliances and sporting equipment.
During a two-year investigation, FAA investigators went out to local airports and took pictures while hangar doors were open, documenting the items stored inside.
According to Fix, during a visit to Glendale Airport, FAA inspectors found non-aviation items, such as Recreational Vehicles and cars in hangars. The airport was used by the FAA as an example of an airport not in compliance with the rules governing hangars.
“These hangars are privately owned with ground leases that stipulate that the hangars are to be used for the parking and storage of aircraft,” Fix says. “The lessee must comply with airport rules and regulations. The lessee shall not use the hangar for any other purpose other than parking and storage of aircraft.”
Some of the hangar tenants took exception to being told they had to remove items they had kept in their hangars for years, and alleged that airport officials were playing favorites.
In April 2014, members of the Glendale Airport Pilots Association filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court to allow them to continue storing their non-flight-related belongings in the hangars they have used for years. The complaint was filed by some 20 pilots, who allege that the city was forcing pilots to clear their non-flight related belongings from their hangars in order to appease the FAA. The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, broken promises, changing contracts, and loss of property value and is still on-going.
Multiple attempts to contact hangar owners by telephone and email were unsuccessful. Those who did respond to emails and phone calls did not want to be interviewed, saying they feared retaliation.
In the past two years there have been several stories in local newspapers about hangar tenants trying to sell their hangars and move their airplanes to what they described as “more friendly” airports.
According to a May 2014 article that appeared in the Arizona Republic, in 2009 south-end hangar owners sued the city for allowing north-end hangar owners to store non-flight-related belongings while prohibiting south-end tenants from doing the same. The city lost the suit and paid $1.7 million to the hangar owners and the FAA threatened to cut off Glendale from grant funding.
According to Fix, as of last spring the airport hangars had achieved compliance with FAA minimum standards, but he could not comment on the pending litigation.