April 29 -- Airport business -- in the sky and on the ground -- could ramp up if a developer on Wednesday signs a contract to begin building 450,000 square feet of retail space along U.S. 69 in front of the Jack Brooks Regional Airport.
The hope is that the development might attract shoppers and airline passengers alike.
A year ago, Accelerated Development of Phoenix signed a letter of intent and analyzed the market, working closely with the Nederland Economic Development Corp., said Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick.
Branick said the plan is for the developers to pay the county $50,000 for the right to build on county property, which would include about 3,000 feet of linear distance in front of the airport property.
A year ago, the developer said the proposed commercial center could be similar to the Lowes and Walmart center farther south on U.S. 69 in Port Arthur.
Branick said the developer has not yet revealed possible tenants, but he hopes to have more information after a contract is signed.
Any revenue the county earns from ground leases in the development would be used to help offset airport operating expenses, he said.
On Monday, Jefferson County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to add $197,000 to the fund that subsidizes the American Eagle commercial flights between Jack Brooks Regional Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, bringing the county's total cash contribution to $447,000 toward the $1.5 million revenue guarantee for the airline.
County Judge Jeff Branick said the county would make up the difference in actual cash received from pledges and the pledged amount of $1.5 million.
The revenue guarantee was an essential part of attracting commercial air service to Southeast Texas after the commuter airline that provided service from Brooks regional to Bush Intercontinental in Houston declared bankruptcy and departed the local market in July 2012.
American Eagle service launched in February 2013.
Because American Eagle, the commuter service for American Airlines, is at the airport, the Federal Aviation Administration now provides $1 million a year for the next four years for airport improvements, Branick said.
Without the airline, FAA would provide just $100,000 a year, Branick said.
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