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Editorial: Hangar tenants deserve better from Northern Colorado Regional Airport commission

Northern Colorado Regional Airport’s governing commission should abort its decision to decommission four hangars at the facility, co-owned by the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland.

The airport’s governing board conducted an executive session March 2 to discuss the fate of the hangars. The meeting was conducted with three days’ notice, with a vote occurring in public session to decommission the four hangars, citing “engineering safety concerns.”

A public town hall is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The commission’s decision would displace 47 tenants who store aircraft in the hangars at a time when hangar space is in critically short supply along the Front Range. Tenants have until May 10 or July 10 to vacate the facilities.

Don Overcash, who chairs the airport commission and serves on the Loveland City Council, told BizWest reporter Dallas Heltzell that the airport had “been trying to extend their life for years, so this was no surprise.

“We received additional information and felt it was important to act prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting to give as early notice as we could, once we became aware of the engineering safety concerns,” he said.

The hangars were built between 1965 and 1977 by private developers, with ownership transferring to the cities when long-term leases had expired.

As Overcash said, the airport commission has worked to extend the hangars’ lifespan for years, but it also has had years to work out a plan that would not toss 47 tenants into the street.

No information provided by the airport,  including on a website that addresses the issue — ( — states that the buildings are in imminent danger of collapse. 

And the NoCo airport’s website Q&A skirts the issue of whether tenants could assume liability, stating that such an option was “determined to not be viable as they didn’t address the safety concerns.”

For the commission now to provide only a couple of months’ notice to tenants represents a slap in the face to aircraft owners who collectively pay about $175,000 in rent annually, according to the airport.

Airports along the Front Range have long waiting lists for hangar space. Boulder Municipal Airport, for example, has a waiting list of about 300 names, representing a seven- to eight-year wait, according to its website.

Tenants displaced by NoCo Regional would be left with few options, including selling their aircraft or storing them outside, subject to wind, hail and other weather conditions. 

A private developer is constructing a 77,000-square-foot hangar project at NoCo Regional, with the project scheduled to come online late this year or early in 2024. While lease rates are expected to be higher than what tenants pay, that time frame would allow them to prepare.

As it is, the airport’s flippant approach does a disservice to dozens of aircraft owners. The airport commission needs to find another way.

Source: BizWest