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California Company Eyes Hangar For Aircraft Assembly

The inside of Hangar A at the Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport. The Chautauqua County Legislature will vote Wednesday on potentially leasing the hangar to a company that produces airplanes. P-J photo

Airplanes may one day be built at the Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport.

The Chautauqua County Legislature Audit and Control Committee on Thursday discussed the potential leasing of Hangar A at the airport to be used to build airplanes.

Ron Almeter, Chautauqua County airports and parks manager, said last fall Luscombe Aircraft Corp. of Chino, Calif., contacted county officials about assembling aircraft in a hangar at the Jamestown airport. He said last week county officials received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to move forward with the proposed plan.

Almeter said Luscombe has acquired the rights to produce planes that resemble the former Legacy aircraft brand. He said Luscombe officials plans to make two types of planes, one would be a small general aviation aircraft and the other would be a sporty version of the same aircraft.

He added that the customers for the planes would include entry level pilots and flight schools. The goal would be to produce around 100 aircraft a year within five years after production starts.

The lease would include a monthly rent of $1,850 for years one through four, with the cost of the rent increasing by either 2% or based on the consumer price index, whatever amount would be lower, for years five through 20.

Almeter said Luscombe would have to renovate the hangar to fit its needs as a production facility. As part of the lease agreement, monthly rent could be decreased by $500 for capital improvements to the hangar. In total during an eight year period, Luscombe could save $48,000 in rent based on the capital improvements made, Almeter said.

Almeter said currently there is no water, sewer or heat in the hangar. He said other improvements would also need to be made to turn the hangar into a production facility suitable for a workforce.

The hangar right now is part of the lease agreement with the new fixed-based operator at the airport, Centric Aviation. Almeter said when county officials were negotiating the terms with Centric Aviation last fall, they factored in the possibility of Luscombe leasing Hangar A to manufacture airplanes. He said a clause in the Centric Aviation lease allows for the hangar to be rented to another company. The rent agreement with Centric for all the hangars at the airport would decrease by $840, going from $2,500 to $1,660 a month. The difference for the county would an increase of $1,000 in rent by having both companies rent hangars at the airport.

The full legislature is scheduled to vote on the resolution during its meeting that starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Because of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak, the meeting will be held online. People can watch the meeting by going the county’s Facebook page at facebook.com/chautauquacountygovernment.

There will also be a public hearing on the potential leasing of Hangar A prior to the legislature voting on the resolution during the meeting. Members of the public who would like to respond can either email or mail their comments to the Chautauqua County Legislature, call during the online legislature meeting or go to the Gerace Office Building in Mayville and speak in the legislature’s chambers on the third floor during the public hearing, which will be broadcast during the online virtual meeting that will be held on Zoom.

In other business, the committee discussed a resolution to delay the tax foreclosure redemption day from April 15 to Aug. 7 because of the coronavirus outbreak. Stephen Abdella, county attorney, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended foreclosure actions by 90 days following the outbreak. Because of the delay in the redemption date, he said county officials have tentatively scheduled the county’s tax foreclosure auction to be held the last Saturday in September. Normally, county officials hold the auction in June.

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