Monday, April 02, 2012

Watsonville airport projects take off: Hangar construction follows restaurant deal

WATSONVILLE -- Projects are taking off at the Watsonville Municipal Airport.

With the ink barely dry on an agreement to complete a $100,000 revamp to the airport's restaurant for a new tenant, a veteran business is preparing to break ground for a 14,500-square-foot hangar.

United Flight Services general manager Laura Mohler said the estimated $600,000 hangar will replace the trailer the business is using as an office and enable mechanics to work on aircraft with a roof over their heads.

"Getting the hangar built will be a huge advantage to us," Mohler said.

Not only will it improve the working conditions for mechanics but it could attract more business. Many pilots prefer to see their planes locked inside at night, Mohler said.

It's one more piece of good news for the airport, said Rayvon Williams, who was
named the airport's general manager in November and oversaw the search for
restaurant tenant. Props, as the aviation-themed eatery will be known, is expected to open this spring.

Williams was host a tenant appreciation party Saturday.

The hangar project has been two years in the making, but environmental studies and the discovery of historic fuel contamination of soil slowed work, Mohler said.

Construction is set to start in June, and Mohler hopes it will be complete by the end of the year.

"We're picking up speed now and getting back on track," she said.
In addition to 10,000 feet of inside work space, the hangar will feature six offices. United Flight Services will use one and lease the others. Aviation-related businesses will get first crack at renting the spaces, Mohler said.

United Flight Services offers a range of aviation services, including aircraft inspections and maintenance, plane rental and flight instruction. Its fleet includes four single-engine Cessnas.

It has operated at the Watsonville airport since 1966. In 2002, the business was purchased by Bob Ross and Alicia Marquez. Ross was killed in a 2010 plane crash in Arkansas. His wife, Joyce Ross, is now the primary shareholder.

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