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Consultants discuss ideas for major Air Center projects

“This is still a planning exercise to put more information in this group’s hands,” says Adam Ambro of Gensler about the airport terminal expansion study. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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City of Roswell consultants have presented some initial ideas about potential costs and design options for two possible projects at the Roswell International Air Center, the construction of a new wide-body hangar and the renovation of the airport terminal building.

Representatives with Armstrong Consultants Inc. and the architectural firm Gensler presented some of the initial results of their engineering and planning studies to members of the city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission during the group’s Thursday meeting.

Mayor Dennis Kintigh, chair of the commission, asked members to consider the studies in more detail during the coming month so that more questioning and perhaps some recommendations for the Roswell City Council can occur at the March 21 meeting and an upcoming April meeting.

Varied options for hangar

Dennis Corsi of Armstrong Consultants presented a menu of options concerning the possible construction of wide-body hangars at the airfield, considered vital for attracting more aviation-related businesses, given that the existing commercial hangars are too small for the larger-body aircraft and often lack the electrical and structural features suitable for work on modern airplanes.

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The various ideas presented ranged from a single-bay hangar for about $24 million to a large, multi-bay hangar, warehouse and office structure with space for additional outdoor aircraft parking for $125 million. The second option would be something a large aircraft manufacturer might be interested in building, according to several people at the meeting.

The study was intended to provide estimated costs for all the components and a financial analysis on the cost per square foot if financed with a 30-year loan at 6.5 percent interest, information that can be provided to potential investors, corporations or the city and other government bodies.

Estimated costs for various configurations were given, as well as various costs for various sites at the airfield. Building a structure on the undeveloped south side of the airfield would add about $8.6 million to the project, $5.2 million for roads and $3.4 million for extending the runway and ramps, Corsi said.

“There are lots of variables that can be evaluated, lots of things that can be done to get costs down,” said Corsi.

He said his company is ready to deliver the detailed descriptions and cost breakdowns to the city. “But really the next step is to look at going to market.”

Commissioners asked questions about who potential developers or tenants would be, what the demand is for such structures and how the projected costs compare to similar airfields that potential investors might consider. Some also suggested that staff should determine exactly what incentives the Air Center and Roswell offer to companies interested in building here.

Air Center Director Scott Stark said that companies routinely “kick the tires” about possible new hangars and that the study will give him and other Air Center staff specifics to provide help to interested parties to make decisions.

Three ideas for terminal

Adam Ambro, an architect with Gensler, which has teamed with Armstrong on an airport terminal expansion study, discussed three options for a future renovation: a compact and economical option, a major reconstruction and expansion, and a hybrid of the two.

“Ultimately, the goal is to land on a preferred alternative that we can dive a little bit deeper in,” Ambro said. “The goal is not to come up with a design of what the terminal is going to look like. This is still a planning exercise to put more information in this group’s hands.”

As discussed at prior meetings, the existing terminal built in 1975 is becoming too cramped for current passenger and airline needs, with baggage claim, security areas and parking is especially lacking in space. Adding passenger airline service to a third location, which the city would like to do in the near future, also would be difficult at the current facility. The Air Center received a $148,162 grant from the New Mexico Transportation Department to do the airport study.

Option 1, totaling about 42,550 square feet and costing about $18 million, would keep much of the structural shape of the terminal but would expand on the gate lounge and the two wings, one of which is used for ticketing and the other for the car rental and baggage claim functions. Some other “infill” additions also would occur. However, future expansion would be limited under this option and some airport units would still be operating with less than ideal space, according to information presented.

Option 2 would present a major overhaul of the terminal and would measure about 50,200 square feet and cost about $21.3 million. The two existing wings would be removed and a new structure to the side of the central part of the terminal would be added for baggage claim and most of the passenger and terminal activities. Security and ticketing would be housed in a new, smaller wing. The cost of demolition and new construction would be the main drawback to this option, according to the presentation.

Option 3, the hybrid option, would be about 49,650 square feet and would cost about $21 million. It would keep most of the existing structure, but it would expand the wing used for ticketing and would create a new adjoining building to the south of the terminal for passenger lounge areas and baggage claim. The car rentals would then have one wing for its operations. A disadvantage to this option, Ambro said, is that the existing structure would dictate some of the future design and construction limits.

Water towers and restaurant update

City Engineer Louis Najar said the new Pecos Flavors Bistro location in the airport terminal should be completed by July. He also said that the city expects to be able to seek construction bids for two new water towers at the Air Center within a short time.

He said the city already has received the money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Drinking Water Loan Program and has completed designs. Request for construction bids can be made once approval is received from the New Mexico Environment Department, Najar said.

He added that bids should be in by April, with the City Council voting in May. Construction is expected to take two years.

The two new water tanks will have a capacity of 1 million gallons each. They will replace an existing tank built in 1943 that can hold only 500,000 gallons.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.