This article was originally published on TimesFreePress.com.
Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport is readying the former Air National Guard site to hold future hangars or parking.
The airport is seeking approval from a city planning panel next week to abandon a sewer easement and a nearby road right of way to speed future reuse of the 13-acre tract off Airport Road.
“It’s all tied to the development of that site,” said Terry Hart, the airport’s chief executive officer.
The former National Guard buildings, some of the oldest structures at Lovell Field, have been torn down and the rubble is being cleared.
Hart said there’s no redevelopment commitment by any company, including air maintenance provider West Star Aviation. The company just finished a $20 million expansion project nearby, including two large hangars, and it expects to have about 140 people working at the airport by year’s end.
“They’ve not committed. We’re hopeful,” said Hart. “We value our relationship with them.”
He said the airport is either prepping the site for West Star, another company, or future general aviation hangars for Lovell Field pilots. Using the site for more parking also was cited by the airport in its request to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.
For more than 50 years the National Guard unit had called the buildings located off the main airport runway its home. In 2010, the members of the 241st Engineering Installation Squadron left for a new facility off Bonny Oaks Drive.
John Naylor, the airport’s vice president of planning and development, said the military already did an environmental assessment of the site and removed all hazardous material except for one location.
The land will be elevated because it sits in the flood plain and utilities relocated to make it ready for development within a year or 18 months, Naylor said.
The airport received a $4 million state grant to redevelop the vacant Guard property.
West Star, which came to the airport in 2015, had been operating from one existing hangar on the opposite side of the main runway before the expansion.
Hart said West Star eventually wants to ramp up its Chattanooga operation to the size of a pair of similar facilities in Illinois and Colorado.The company employs 380 people in Grand Junction, Colo., and 300 employees in East Alton, Ill., according to West Star.