Spokane Journal of Business

Airport projects set to take off

Value of work at facility, business park during 1998 estimated at $75 million

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The Spokane Airport Board expects work to begin this year on an estimated $75 million in new and previously planned construction projects at both Spokane International Airport and the nearby Spokane International Airport Business Park.

John Morrison, who manages both facilities for the Airport Board, says the projects could help spark long-awaited growth in the surrounding West Plains area.

I expect an explosion in the next three to five years out here, he says.

In a step that will help clear the way for even more development in the airport business park, Fairchild Air Force Base will tear down or move about 40 unoccupied buildings from a 30-acre area that the U.S. Air Force currently leases. After that property has been cleared, the Airport Board plans to begin developing a campus-type office park there, although that could be some time off.

Although Morrison doesnt have precise values on all of the projects that could get started this year, he estimates their total value at close to $75 million.

Many of the projects have been in various planning stages for years, but others, including construction of the airport business parks first speculative building, only recently began to take shape.

All of the projects will be built on land owned jointly by Spokane County and the city of Spokane that is administered by the Airport Board. In addition to the 4,700-acre Spokane International Airport and the 660-acre airport business park, the board oversees 440-acre Felts Field, in East Spokane.Airport business parkThe airport business park, which currently includes 41 buildings in addition to the unoccupied structures leased to the Air Force, is located south and east of the airports main terminal. The projects expected to get under way in the business park this year include:

Construction of a previously announced 362,000-square-foot mail processing-and-distribution center for the U.S. Postal Service. Earlier this week, the Postal Services Board of Governors approved $41 million in capital funding for the project, which should be launched this summer and completed by late 1999 or early 2000. The center is to occupy a 31-acre site on the north side of the park, just east of the airport.

Construction of a $2 million speculative building, with 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of floor space, on a site south of where the new mail center is to be built. The Airport Board is seeking to persuade a developer both to develop that building and to cover the cost of the structure. It is negotiating with developers who would like to lease the building to a distribution or manufacturing tenant, Morrison says.

If the negotiations go smoothly and financing can be arranged, work could begin in late summer or early fall on the speculative building, Morrison says. The structure would give the Airport Board a building to show businesses that are interested in locating in the park.

People like to kick bricks, and we dont have any bricks to kick out here, he says.

Construction of about $5 million in infrastructure improvements, including the building of a new road through the park and the rebuilding of three older roads there.

The infrastructure improvements are to be completed over a several-year period. Morrison says the first phase of that work, which is to begin this fall or next spring, would include construction of a new, four-lane road through the northern half of the park. That road, which probably will be called Flight Line Boulevard, would stretch from Geiger Boulevard to the airports flight lineand provide access between the flight line and the planned postal center.

In addition to the new road, water and sewer lines are to be put in throughout that northern area of the park, which includes the 30-acre parcel the Air Force now leases. Morrison says initial plans are to build the proposed campus-type office park there, though that project hasnt been solidified yet. He adds that airport officials also would want to preserve the wooded nature of the vicinity, even if the park were built. The Air Force has the 30-acre property under lease for three more years, and airport officials dont know when the military service will raze the 40 buildings.

The first part of the road and sewer work is to be completed by September 1999. The three roads that are to be rebuilt later are Godfrey Road, Spotted Road, and Will D. Alton Lane.

Construction of a 6,700-square-foot building at the northwest corner of Geiger and Will D. Alton Lane. The Postal Service has leased the site from the Airport Board, and site work for the new post office already has begun. The branch, which will be called the Sunset Hill station, is expected to be completed later this year, though no contractor has been named yet.

Separately, the Airport Board is talking with a company thats interested in building an 80,000-square-foot structure in the business park that could be expanded later by 20,000 square feet. That building probably would be located near the proposed speculative building, but likely wont go up this year.Airport workSome of the projects that are to begin during 1998 at Spokane International Airport itself, or on property thats near the airport, include:

A $20 million, 80,000-square-foot expansion of Concourse C, on the west end of the main terminal building. Morrison anticipates that the expansion, which is being designed by Bernardo-Wills Architects PC, of Spokane, will get under way in September and take about a year to complete.

Construction of a traveler service center on one of four 1.5-acre pads. The Airport Board has just called for proposals from developers to build the center, which likely would include a gas station, convenience store, and car wash. As with the speculative building, the developer, rather than the Airport Board, would own the building and would lease the land on which the structure sits.

Todd Woodard, airport spokesman, says the developer will choose one of the four pads, all of which are on Post Office Road near the airports new north shuttle parking lot, to use as a site for the traveler service center. Construction of the center is expected to begin this summer and to be completed later this year.

The Airport Board plans to market the remaining three pads to developers for travel-related businesses, such as lube or other auto-service shops. Woodard says the board hasnt decided when it will call for proposals for projects on the other three pads.

Construction of a previously announced $6.5 million, 126-suite hotel. Spokane developers Bob Bonuccelli and Bill Lawson were selected last fall to develop the hotel on a five-acre site east of the main terminal on the south side of Airport Drives outbound leg. The hotel project is expected to begin this year, if the developers can obtain an affiliation with a major lodging chain.

Separately, Morrison says the Airport Board and a group of developers have begun initial discussions about a possible joint effort to extend Flint Road, which is located well north of the airport and provides access from U.S. 2 to Boeing Co.s plant, but goes little farther.

He says the developers want to share with the airport the expense of extending the road south to the airports northern property line. From there, the airport probably would have to cover the cost of extending the road through its property on to Airport Drive. The new stretch of road would intersect with Airport Drive at Post Office Road, near the airports north shuttle parking lot.

Such a project might lead to installation of water and sewer lines in that area, opening up another 500 acres of airport property north of Airport Driveas well as other land north of the airports holdingsfor future development.

Sewer and water service already have been extended to another 250 acres of airport-owned development land located east of the north shuttle parking lot and inside Airport Drive, which is a loop road. Woodard says that property is ready to be developed, but so far, the airport has secured no users for the land, which its marketing for commercial development.

Concourse Cthe concourse thats to be expandednow has about 11,000 square feet of floor space and serves Horizon Air. Once its expanded, it will serve both Horizon and Alaska Airlines, which will move from Concourse B.

The expansion will add a second level to Concourse C. Also, two ticket counters are to be added in the main part of the terminal near the entry to Concourse C, and a baggage carousel also is to be constructed there to make it more convenient for passengers using that concourse.

The Airport Board hopes that the expansion that will begin later this year will allow the airport to attract another regional carrier, which would go into Alaska Airlines space in Concourse B after Alaska moves.

  • Chad Cain

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