TIA Hangar complex up for sale, lease


Bombardier Aerospace has put a massive hangar complex at Tucson International Airport on the market, raising hopes a new owner or tenant could bring hundreds of jobs.

The asking sale price for the buildings, which sit on land leased from the Tucson Airport Authority, is $15.9 million. The lease rate is $2.22 million annually, or $8.75 net rental cost per square foot.

The 33-acre site features a 235,000-square-foot maintenance hangar divided into four bays with runway access, two separate furnished office buildings and workshops. The facility has its own security entrance separate from the adjacent Bombardier operations.

Bombardier began vacating the hangar complex in 2004 when it moved its aircraft-completion operations to Wichita, Kan., and Montreal, where the company is based. A startup company, DunnAir Business Jet Completion Center, occupied the facility for a time last year but failed for lack of capital in January.

Measuring 44 feet at the ridge of its roof, the hangar bays can be expanded at the doors to 62 feet in height to accommodate the tails of larger jetliners.

The hangar property is being marketed by a team of Grubb & Ellis/ BRE Commercial LLC in Phoenix and Bourn Partners in Tucson.

Because of the property's sheer size, it is being marketed globally, said Tony Lydon, senior vice president of Grubb & Ellis/ BRE Commercial's industrial group.

"There's a really finite market for an asset of this nature," Lydon said.

Bob Rudolph, agent for Bourn on the property and a former Northwest Airlines pilot, said the company's research showed nothing comparable on the market nationwide in terms of size, condition and functionality.

"There's nothing that's been built recently that compares to this building," Rudolph said.

Built in 1990, the hangar facility is relatively modern and ready to move into at far less than it would cost to build today, not to mention construction time, said Gary Emerson, director of Bourn's industrial department.

With permitting lead time, "Something like that would take two years to build," Emerson said.

Prospects have visited

Bourn and Grubb & Ellis/BRE are working with the Tucson Airport Authority and local economic-development officials to identify potential buyers or lessors for the property.

The Tucson Airport Authority, which leases the property to Bombardier, would have to approve any buyer or sub-lessor.

Eric Brammer, vice president and general manager of the Bombardier Tucson Service Center, said there has been a lot of interest in the property.

He said he could not disclose which companies have expressed interest, but said the "perfect scenario" for Bombardier would be a company that complements its existing aircraft operation and brings additional jobs to Tucson.

Lydon said the team marketing the property has received about a half-dozen calls from all over the country about it and already hosted one tour for "a major aerospace company" he declined to name.

Prospective buyers or lessors could include airlines, aerospace maintenance operations and companies involved in aerospace research such as development of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, Bourn's Rudolph said.

"It's a great place to fly, especially if you want to work on aircraft," he said.

The average time on the market for such properties is about seven months, he said.

"Huge, modern gem"

An official of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc., the local economic-development group, said the kind of buyer or tenant that would be attracted to the Bombardier hangar could potentially employ hundreds of people, particularly in manufacturing.

"I'd love to get someone in aerospace manufacturing in there, because that would make it much more than a hangar," said Lee Smith, TREO senior vice president for business development."It is a gem. It is huge, it is modern."

Since October 2005, TREO has helped find buyers for two big vacant commercial buildings: Pella Corp. bought the old Weiser Lock building on the Southwest Side, and La Costea Foods bought the Slim- Fast plant on the Southeast Side.

Whoever buys or rents the hangar property would be eligible for state job-training funds, Smith said, adding "That's a huge plus."

Meanwhile, Bombardier isn't going anywhere, despite cutting hundreds of jobs in recent years. At theof 2006, Bombardier reported 614 full-time-equivalent employees in Tucson, down from a peak of 2,250 in 2001.

Bombardier extended its lease for 22 years In September and is adding employees to its regional operation, Brammer said.

"We plan to be a long-standing corporate citizen in Tucson," he said.

Did you know...

The hangar and maintenance property Bombardier Aerospace is marketing at 1555 E. Aero Park Blvd. was built in 1990 by Lockheed Martin to work on L-1011 jetliners. Lockheed used the facility for five years, then it sat vacant until Bombardier's Learjet subsidiary bought it in 2001, and used it for aircraft-completion work. Bombardier moved its completion operations to Wichita, Kan., and Montreal starting in 2004. The startup Dunnair Business Jet Completion Center subleased the hangar complex and used it briefly before folding in late January.

* Star reporter Gabriela Rico contributed to this report. * Contact Star Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at 573-4181 or at dwichner@azstarnet.com

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