By Richard L. Gaw
A soon-to-be-formed limited liability corporation known as The New Garden Hangar Association is developing plans to have two rows of additional hangars built at the New Garden Flying Field in Toughkenamon, with the intent to own and operate these two facilities, which it plans to build in 2014.
The notice of this new consortium was introduced at the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 23.
Over three years ago, the air field set its sights on the construction of two new hangars, to be built on the air field's property, measuring 25,000 square feet and housing 19 individual hangars - 17 "T" hangars and two "box" hangars. In January 2012, the air field signed a contract with the Hangar Corporation of America in order to build and maintain the project and acquire tenants to rent the available space. However, after little involvement on behalf of the corporation, and due to lack of payment of the agreed-upon land lease fee spelled out in the contract, the air field terminated its contract with the Hangar Corporation of America in June of this year.
With the contract terminated and still looking at options to finish this project, the air field was approached by registered pilots Richard Kellerman and Chris Ungermann, as well as several other potential investors who were interested in taking over the construction and ownership of the two hangars. Kellerman said in light of the termination of the contract, the air field had three options.
"They could give up, they could wait until the township would find another developer or they could develop it (the hangars) on their own through the establishment of a corporation," Kellerman told the supervisors.
Kellerman said that the group is in the process of setting up a limited liability corporation (LLC) and obtained the services of Kennett Square attorney Neil Land to help develop the corporation. Once the LLC is in place, it would develop its marketing plan in order to attract potential users of the hangars.
The advantages of this arrangement, Ungermann told the supervisors, would be that the hangars would basically be sold at cost - the price per hangar has not yet been finalized -- and that it would benefit from an aggressive marketing campaign.
Currently, the hangars have commitments from 5 potential tenants, and Kellerman said that he is 80 to 90 percent confident that the corporation would be able to find the remaining 14 tenants for these hangars in the next two months, when it plans to meet again with the supervisors.
Ungermann said that he anticipates that the construction of these hangars would begin in the spring of 2014. The cost of the project is estimated to be $1.4 million.
"What happens of this doesn't get off the ground?" Norris asked.
"We've met several times, as a group of strangers who basically got taken by somebody," Ungermann said. "We've said to each other, 'Do we even want to try this? And what happens if we don't?' We went through an evolution and explored ways of limiting liability by forming an entity with our core members, with the idea to quickly invite other members. Once we got this group of people together and the funding is basically secure, and the engineering, bidding and construction is secure, that the risk will not be that great. If we can't attract 14 people, we will never build these hangars."
The arrangement, Ungermann said, would also involve the turning over the land lease agreement to the New Garden Hangar Association, and agreed to by the Association and the township.
Kellerman stressed to the board that the consortium is asking for the board's feedback and comfort level in the establishment of the limited liability corporation to take over the development of these hangars.
"Unless the board explicitly tell us not to go ahead, we're going to keep going and come back to you as son as we've got something concrete and then ask you to push," Kellerman told the supervisors. "You're not expected to push tonight."
After further discussion between members of the group and the supervisors, the board agreed, in principle, to the concept of a new limited liability corporation established to own, operate and maintain the planned new hangars at the air field.
In other township business, New Garden Flying Field Manager Jon Martin reported that the airport's 42nd annual air show, held Aug. 24 and 25, sold 4,500 tickets for this year's event, earned $6,400 in sponsorship money, and turned in a profit of $18,563.84. Advertising the event as "the biggest little air show in the East," Martin said that the air show had operated at a break even point during the last five years.
Martin then informed the supervisors that this year's Future Aviators Summer Camp, held July 8-12 and Aug. 5-9, earned a profit of $9,222 and drew 104 campers, up from the 28 campers who attended the first camp in 2009. He then shared a 10-minute video of this year's camp, which gave visual detail of the many activities the campers were involved in.
The board approved the Future Aviators Camp and air show for 2014.
The supervisors were informed about the establishment of an Herbalife center and cafe on Old Baltimore Pike in the township. The facility, owned by Nancy Smolinksi since 2004, is located next to the Brown Derby. The supervisors advised Smolinski to file for clearance with the township's Zoning Hearing Board.
Norris spoke about a recent meeting that he, Supervisor Betty Gordon and Interim Township Manager Spence Andress recently had with Activate Kennett Square, a grass roots group looking to make the town more walkable, about the possible expansion of a walkway and bike path that extends well into the township. "We believe it is a great concept, but as usual, the difficulty is in finding funding," Norris said, who estimated that engineering costs for the project would be between $100,000 and $150,000, and that the costs of building the project would be between $1 million and $1.5 million.
"Our hope is that we can get a sponsor from next years' board of supervisors to represent the township in helping to drive the project forward," Norris said.
Dr. Peg Jones of the township's Historic Commission brought the supervisors up to date on the repairs and renovations needed for the historic Lamborn House in New Garden Park, which she said requires extensive work on its chimney, upgrades to its electric and plumbing, as well as painting, the removal of stucco from its exterior, and the removal of the house's sun porch. She suggested to the supervisors that the home be renovated to the point where it can be fully occupied by an individual or individuals in a long-lease arrangement.
"Empty houses do not survive," she said. "Having an occupant or occupants will provide a modicum of security for New Garden Park."
Jones shared cost estimates for repair to the house's chimney and the removal of stucco which totaled over $14,000. After discussion, the board advised Jones to receive additional cost estimates for these repairs.