Rock Hill mulls spending $1.2 million for new airport hangars

adouglas@heraldonline.comJanuary 30, 2014 

Rock Hill-York County Airport

FILE. COURTESY OF THE CITY OF ROCK HILL

Interest in storing airplanes at the Rock Hill-York County Airport has grown recently, leading the city to consider spending up to $1.2 million to build two new hangars.

But Rock Hill officials say taxpayers might not have to foot the bill for the new airplane buildings if one of two private firms decides to take on the project. Officials have not yet said which companies are interested, but Rock Hill has shared with each a study that charts the airport’s hangar popularity, competitive rental rates and need for more storage space.

Kevin Bronson, the city’s general services administrator, told City Council members in a workshop session on Wednesday that the airport – jointly owned by York County – has no vacancy in existing hangars at Bryant Field, which is located near the intersection of Celanese and Ebenezer roads.

“There is a case to be made for building (more) hangers,” Bronson said, noting that vacant land is available for the new buildings.

Rock Hill charges $225 per month to store aircraft in airport hangars. The rate is competitive, officials say, when compared to similarly sized airports in the region. Rock Hill’s rate is about $30 less than Concord Regional Airport’s monthly fee, and $30 to $80 more than airports in Gastonia, Chester and Newberry County.

While fees in Rock Hill’s airport comparison group vary – ranging from $385 at Monroe to $144 at Anson County – city officials say the numbers don’t account for quality. Rock Hill-York County Airport’s hangars, officials contend, are top-notch and new storage buildings would also be high quality.

If the City Council approves building new “T-hangars” – named for their shape – officials could borrow the money to pay for them, Bronson said.

City Manager David Vehaun warned that the hangars are “not inexpensive to build.” Financing the construction could mean that Rock Hill would need a 20-year loan.

Council members on Wednesday did not vote or discuss at length whether to use public money to pay for the new hangars. The report given to the interested companies will be presented at an upcoming meeting of the Airport Commission.

Airport officials said they are confident the new hangars would be received well by those interested in storing planes at Bryant Field. Currently there are about two dozen people on a waiting list for hangar space.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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