The company that will build and own a wide-body hangar at the Roswell Air Center for Ascent Aviation Services of Arizona has been identified.
Western LLC, based in Elizabeth, Colorado, has reached an agreement with Ascent Aviation on the $25 million hangar project.
Chief Executive Officer Brad Henderson of Western LLC said the hangar will accommodate the triple-7 commercial aircraft on the market. The hangar will be about 72,000 square feet, with a 13,000-square-foot attached office. The site also will include a parking lot and ramp.
“We are looking forward to spending a lot of time in Roswell and, Lord willing, this is just the first of many large projects with you guys,” said Henderson during a Thursday meeting of the city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission.
Ascent Aviation is a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business that works on narrow-body to wide-body commercial, cargo and privately owned and leased planes. It has operated for about four decades in Arizona, with current operations in Pinal Park and Tucson.
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In late September, its president, David Querio, announced plans to expand to the Roswell Air Center, hiring 100 to 120 aviation mechanics and support staff after the hangar is completed and up to 360 people within five years.
The company plans to invest about $18 million in its Roswell operations, but also will receive some assistance from public funds. State Local Economic Development Act funds of $5 million and up to $3 million of state capital outlay funds for infrastructure work awarded to Chaves County have been pledged to the project.
Henderson said his company is an “old-fashioned” real estate development firm that began specializing in aviation projects in 1998. It has completed hangars and other airport projects in Colorado, California, Texas and North Carolina.
Western will finance, design, build and own the new wide-body hangar. Once finished, the hangar will be subleased to Ascent.
Western will be the entity with the land lease with the city of Roswell for the Air Center property, with the city giving a current estimate of 7 cents to 10 cents a square foot, plus annual increases for inflation. The site has been estimated at about 10 acres.
Querio and City Manager Joe Neeb have said that groundbreaking is expected to occur around March to July. Henderson expects construction to take about 10 months.
Henderson said his company’s role as a facility developer allows MROs or other businesses to invest in people and equipment.
“Count us as a tool in your toolkit to attract those types of people and those businesses,” Henderson said.
He said he has every expectation that Ascent will want to remain in the hangar for the long term. But, if not, Western would continue to pay the Roswell lease and would find another tenant.
Mayor Dennis Kintigh said the city wants to be sure that the situation does not turn into another bus facility. The large manufacturing site at the Air Center that once was used by various bus transportation manufacturers has been vacant for many years.
Henderson said he is a strong supporter of the Roswell Air Center and thinks that his company would always be able to find a business wanting to operate out of the hangar.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.