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NTRA to demolish former flight school facility

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Officials with North Texas Regional Airport confirmed that it is pursuing plans to demolish the former US Aviation office building to make room for  new future development.

North Texas Regional Airport has confirmed plans to demolish and redevelop a building formerly occupied by the US Aviation Flight Academy.

The airport is pursing plans to demolish the former flight school instructional building to make way for redevelopment of hangar space of others uses that better meet the airport’s needs, Airport Manager Mike Livezey said Wednesday.

“The county has done an asbestos abatement on it, and they are going forward with plans to tear that building down,” he said.

US Aviation, which had been a major, long-term tenant of the airport, announced its departure from NTRA earlier this year when it consolidated operations at its Denton facility. This has left airport officials looking to fill the literal, and figurative, void at NTRA.

Livezey spoke last week during a meeting of the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority regarding ongoing renovation of the flight school’s former hangar building. The space will be used by Rise Aviation, who serves as the airport's fixed-based operator, as an expansion of its hangar services.

In addition to his work at airport manager, Livezey is also the general manager of Rise Aviation.

During last week’s talks, Livezey said there was no new development or news regarding the former classroom building, but said there should be an announcement in the next month.

Previously, Livezey said the classroom building would be a hard sell and difficult to find a tenant for due to its specialized nature, awkward layout and other issues.

“It was not laid out well for anything other than office space, and it wasn’t good office space,” Livezey said. “It had been cut up many different times.”

Prior to its departure, US Aviation explored options for rehabilitating the building, Livezey said. However, the the more than $600,000 price tag proved too difficult to overcome.

Airport officials have already taken the first steps toward the demolition by removing asbestos from the site. This was conducted recently at a cost of about $15,000.

The airport has extended the fence line of the airport footprint to encompass the building, making the land far more marketable in the process. With the newly-created airside property, Livezey said he plans to market the six-acre plot to three groups who are interested in building a complex at NTRA.

Despite claims that there was little interest in the facility, a local entity has expressed interest in the site.

Kenneth Williams, president of Aeroplace Services, said he approached airport staff about utilizing the building for vintage aircraft restorations.

Williams has been an airport tenant for seven years, including most recently as the director of restoration for the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.

“I was interested in the building and said I would do renovation on it and build a hangar onto it," Williams said. "What I would like to do would be a straight ground lease and connect the two buildings rather than tear it down.

“It is a shame to tear down a 16,000 square-foot building that’s in good shape. That’s my opinion.”

Williams estimated that it would take about $200,000-300,000 to renovate the building to meet his needs.

Livezey confirmed that he has spoken to Williams but has not received a proposal and added that he often gets requests from tire kickers who express interests that ultimately does not pan out.

The area around the flight school was recently identified as a prime area for the expansion of buildings along the air strip, making it an ideal place to attract businesses.

“Maybe it didn’t fit in with the FBO’s (fixed-based operator) plans, but they shouldn’t be the ones to have total control of that airport,” Williams said.

Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.