Utah Airpark Grand Opening Set for May '06

OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Ogden Gateway Center airpark owners are shooting for a May grand opening of Building 1 at the 30-acre site south of the Ogden-Hinckley Airport.

The building will be a terminal equipped to handle scheduled commuter service and also will have an upscale restaurant, lounge for flight crews, two hangers, a deli, a conference room and secure holding area for passengers.

"I think it's one of the most beautiful regional jet facilities that you'll find in the country," said Bryce Gibby, marketing director for airpark owner Kemp Development.

The $8 million, 80,000-square-foot Building 1 has been under construction since 2003.

Thus far, Kemp Development has only one tenant, Colorado-based Adam Aircraft Industries, which manufacturers business jets in one of the hangars.

Gibby said Adam Air eventually will move to a new building at the airpark, expected to be under construction by spring.

Kemp, which hopes to develop 600,000 square feet of the 1.3 million-square-foot airpark, is working to finalize leases with other prospective tenants, Gibby said.

In addition to being a manufacturing center, the airpark will be a premier destination for private jets, he said.

The airport is a one-hour flight from several major cities and a one-hour drive for 1.5 million people, he said.

"We believe that it is very viable," Gibby said. "Ogden is logistically perfect."

A lawsuit claims that the city provided benefits to Kemp Development at the expense of other fixed-base operators.

An FBO is a business at an airport that provides to the public fuel and other ground-handling services, such as hangar rental and maintenance. Before November 2003, there were two FBOs at the airport: OK3 Air and the Ogden Jet Center.

OK3 Air contends in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in May that the city began allowing the Ogden Gateway Center to operate as a third FBO in mid-2003, even though it had not met requirements under city ordinances for doing so.

The city rewrote ordinances related to the airport last summer, and the Ogden Gateway Center continues to operate as one of the airport's three FBOs.

The complaint also alleges the city's Redevelopment Agency illegally appropriated $2.3 million in tax-increment financing for the Ogden Gateway Center in December 2004.

In addition to Kemp Development, the city and the RDA, the suit names airport manager Ed Rich and Fair Air, a commercial maintenance facility at the airport, as defendants.

"In a nutshell, the claim is that Kemp has received favorable treatment that's unfair to others who are trying to provide similar services at the airport," said Stephen Hill, an attorney representing OK3 Air.

Assistant City Attorney Gary Williams said the city denied all allegations in the lawsuit, which has been set for trial at the end of 2006, but he declined to discuss specifics.

Gibby said the lawsuit has not hindered the development of the airpark. He also said Kemp Development's goal is not to compete with existing fixed-base operators, but to bring in new business that will benefit the entire local economy.

"Naturally, we disagree with those who are involved in the lawsuit," Gibby said. "We're trying to expand the market."

Rich said the city recently commissioned a study on the feasibility of scheduled commuter service at the airport.

He said it is possible the service initially could operate out of the Ogden Gateway Center, but it is unclear whether the Federal Aviation Administration would allow that because the terminal is on private property.

Rich said he hopes the $18,000 study, expected to be complete in coming weeks, will back up preliminary data compiled by the city that he said show there is sufficient demand for commuter service. Ogden has not had scheduled passenger flights since the 1950s. Information from: Standard-Examiner, www.standard.net

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