New aerospace businesses coming to TIA

Oct. 13--Aerospace business development is coming soon to Tulsa International Airport.

On Thursday, trustees of the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust approved a 10-year lease of 7.1 acres of land in the north development area at Tulsa International Airport to the Tulsa Industrial Authority. The annual lease rate will be 8 percent of the value of the land or about 22 cents per square foot, officials said.

In the coming months, TIA proposes to build, with $10 million in state and local money, a 60,000-square-foot relocatable widebody aircraft repair hangar for American Airlines.

In a related action, the airport board assigned a $435,000 architectural contract for the American hangar to the Tulsa Industrial Authority, which will oversee construction and own the facility.

The architectural contract is with Frankfurt Short Bruza Associates, PC, of Oklahoma City.

Trustees' approval of the American project follows its approval, in July, of a 20-year sublease agreement for 7.5 acres east of the proposed American hangar for TranAlliance Tulsa LLC.

TranAlliance proposes to construct a 60,000-square-foot air cargo facility in the north development area

adjacent to the newly constructed Taxiway November.

Trustees are proceeding with the commercial projects individually without a master development plan the board agreed to 19 months ago.

"The city has not and the airport has not completed a master development agreement at this point," said Airports Director Jeff Mulder. "However, on an individual project basis, we are moving forward."

In interviews with aerospace companies at Tulsa International Airport and elsewhere in the city, executives said the boom in aircraft manufacturing, maintenance, repair and overhaul, has created an urgent need for hangar and manufacturing facilities.

More than 800 acres at 4,000-acre Tulsa International Airport is undeveloped. Companies at the airport and their suppliers employ more than 12,000 people in Tulsa.

In 2006, TAIT selected Tulsa TID LLC as the master developer for a proposed 800-acre aerospace industrial park. An advisory committee and then the full board selected Tulsa TID over two competitors, Trammell Crow Inc. and Aeroterm US Inc.

Warren Thomas, managing partner for Tulsa TID, said his firm built the 30-company Tinker Business & Industrial Park adjacent to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.

Thomas said the key is developing an environment where companies that are logically related to each other and interdependent benefit from co-locating.

Thomas said he envisioned a $1 billion capital investment to construct up to 10 million square feet of hangars, offices, education and training facilities, laboratories, light assembly and manufacturing plants and retail outlets.

But negotiations between Thomas and representatives of TAIT and the city have stalled.

"There are no ongoing negotiations with that group," said Don Himelfarb, the city's director of economic development. "Our last substantive conversation was 60 to 90 days ago. There are no plans to reinstitute those conversations."

What happened to scuttle the negotiations?

Himelfarb said "the big picture concept" was tantalizing.

"But when we got down to the detail level, we just couldn't get it done," Himelfarb said in a telephone interview. "What's happening with Spirit (AeroSystems Inc.), American Airlines . . . is an indication we are aggressively moving ahead with an aerospace vision for the airport.

"The fact that we don't have a single master developer is not in any way slowing us down."

Thomas said neither he nor Tulsa TID have been notified orally or in writing that their proposal has been rejected.

"As a practical matter, it's my view that the city has elected to go another direction than that we contemplated," Thomas said in a telephone interview. "It's regrettable. There are a lot of projects on the radar in Tulsa.

"It's not about building buildings. It's about what kind of activity is inside those buildings that create high value, employment, that raise the per capital income and the quality of life of the region."


D.R. Stewart 581-8451

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