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City group recommends hangar purchase

The city of Roswell and the Roswell Air Center want to purchase a fabric hangar that would be placed near Buildings 112, on the left, and 115 at the Air Center, although it could be moved if wanted. They also want to demolish Building 112 as soon as funding is available for that. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The city of Roswell wants to purchase a fabric hangar from a company that intends to supply the new hangar for Ascent Aviation Services when it opens a location at the Roswell Air Center.

The city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission recommended Thursday with a 5-0 vote that the city buy the hangar from the Rubb Group, which has U.S. operations in Sanford, Maine.

The company is the same one working with Ascent Aviation Services on providing the multimillion-dollar phase one hangar for that Arizona-based company for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business it intends to operate at the Roswell Air Center starting in spring 2022.

The purchase decision is headed to the Roswell City Council Legal Committee next week. Then the entire City Council must vote before the purchase could be official.

City staff and commission members said that they want to act quickly to let the company know the city intends to purchase the hangar before another buyer comes along.

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Administrative Services Director Juan Fuentes indicated that, based on the Airport Advisory Commission vote, the city could notify the company of its intentions to buy the hangar, pending a decision by the City Council.

The money is expected to come from Roswell Air Center funds. The hangar itself costs $450,000, while installation by a Rubb team would cost $200,000. Additional costs such as fire suppression systems, flooring and site preparation also could be involved.

Mike Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp., and City Manager Joe Neeb visited the company a few weeks ago. They said the fabric hangar was created for a company that intended to use it for jets and helicopters but that changed its plans.

The Roswell Air Center probably would use the hangar outside the airport fencing near Buildings 112 and 115 for warehouse space. Probably the city would rent or sell the structure to tenants, according to Air Center Director Scott Stark and Deputy Director Steve Christopher.

But Neeb indicated that the hangar itself — which he said is worth about $2 million — could be relocated.

“They are moveable, so, if we decide we need to place it in a different area, we can do that,” he said. “We are lacking warehouse space at the Air Center as well as hangar space for planes. We are lacking a lot of different things, so there is a good option here.”

The insulated hangar is described as about 120 feet wide, 183 feet long and 26 feet high. It is built to withstand wind gusts of 115 mph as well as snow accumulations and hail. Matthew McDonald, a former American Airlines manager and a member of the commission, said he has seen similar fabric hangars that have lasted for 30 years, while Neeb said he and Espiritu were shown a Rubb hangar constructed and erected in 1983.

According to Neeb, the Air Center is about 335,000 square feet short of being 70% occupied and needs to add buildings.

“We have 1.2 million square feet of space out at the Air Center under roof. Most of that is already utilized,” Neeb said. “Mike and I use an economic development tool when you reach 70% capacity and 70% of your facilities are full, then you are actually 100% full. You should be looking at the next piece and adding onto this.”

In a related action, city and Air Center employees indicated their intent to demolish Building 112, saying the building is obsolete and that the cost of repairs and upgrades would exceed the amount of rent that could be earned from it. City documents indicate it was built in 1942. The demolition would occur this fiscal year or next fiscal year, depending on when funds are available. A cost estimate is not yet available, according to Air Center staff.

The commission voted 5-0 to recommend that action, which also needs to be considered by the entire City Council for official approval.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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