Thursday, October 17, 2013

Historic hangar to be restaurant: Curtiss-Wright Hangar at Jim Hamilton - L.B. Owens Airport (KCUB), Columbia, South Carolina

A group of private developers and aviation enthusiasts say plans are moving apace to restore and repurpose the historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar at the downtown Hamilton- Owens Airport.

The 1929 structure, rusting and mostly neglected for decades, will be reborn as a family-style restaurant, event space and aviation museum, the developers say.

The hangar was the first building constructed at the former Columbia Municipal Airport by a company created by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss and airplane inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright. For years, it served as the main terminal for the airport’s passenger and airmail operations and is listed on the National Register of Historic Place.

Columbia businessman Scott Linaberry said the developers are offering to purchase the 15,000- square-foot building from Richland County for $176,000 plus an abatement fee for the removal of asbestos and lead-based paint.

As things stand now, the sale is in a due diligence state as the business partners, organized under the name CW Hangar Partners, LLC, review restoration, architectural, and development costs that are expected to total $4.7 million when the project is complete.

Other partners in the development include real estate brokers Ed Garrison and Ben S. Riddle and architect Joe Rogers.

Linaberry said developers expect to finance the project by leveraging historic renovation tax credits and corporate sponsorships that include naming opportunities. Meanwhile, CW Hangar Partners has landed a $20,000 grant from Richland County.

The sale still has to be approved by the Richland County Airport Commission and Richland County Council. Even the Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for disposition of any airport properties, has a say.

Hami l ton- Owens Airport director Chris Evermann said he hopes the partners can put together a successful financing that has the potential to showcase the airport. The building is at the northwest corner of the field and is the first building that comes into sight for most persons traveling to the terminal.

“It’s a neat building,” Everman said of the hangar, one of some 30 that Curtiss-Wright constructed across the country during the “Golden Age” of aviation. Only a handful remain

Linaberry said the proposed 3,500-squarefoot restaurant is expected to draw customers from the nearby Rosewood and Shandon areas of the city and will be “an important key” to the project becoming self-sustaining instead of a financial obligation for taxpayers.

“In many cases where you put a museum in an old building, it creates a never-ending burden for the taxpayers,” he said. “That’s not what we want. The restaurant is there to insure the maintenance and integrity of the building itself.”

Linaberry said he hopes the project can be completed by 2015, but “to tell the truth, I’m not in a huge hurry to rush the project. I want everything done correctly, meticulously. Time is not the real issue for me.”

Looming large over the entire project is a partially restored World War II B-25 bomber that crashed on a training mission during the war and was recovered from the bottom of Lake Greenwood in 1983. The bomber is currently housed in the hangar and will remain as a centerpiece for the restaurant and museum.

The developers are inviting public support for the project and have created a crowd funding site at The site has generated in excess of $4,600 in the short time it has been online.

The project also has its own website: and a Facebook page:

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