Hotels/Lodging

County seeks hotel development for airport

By: JOE LoTEMPLIO

PLATTSBURGH — The way has been cleared for a possible hotel development on the former Alert Facility property at Plattsburgh International Airport.

“Ultimately, our hope is to enhance airport services, and that is a big chunk of land that we have available for development in a prime spot,” said Clinton County Legislature Chairman Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru).

“A hotel there makes sense.”

DEMOLISHED

The 18-acre Alert Facility property sits just east of the airport terminal off Arizona Avenue.

When Plattsburgh Air Force Base was active (1955 to 1995), it housed crews of tankers and bombers who were ready to jump into their aircraft at a moment’s notice.

The antiquated structure featured long tubes, partially embedded in the ground, stretching from the main housing unit to the flight line.

Demolition of the structure proved costly, as large amounts of mold were discovered, as well as asbestos.

Deputy County Administrator Rodney Brown said it cost more than $2 million to remove the Alert Facility, which was paid for with federal funds.

“It wasn’t easy tearing that thing down,” Airport Committee Chairman Robert Heins (R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh) said.

“But it has been our goal from day one to use that property to support the airport.”

RESTRICTION LIFTED

The legislature has been eyeing the property for development since the airport opened in 2007, but the Federal Aviation Administration required that land to be used for aviation purposes only.

The FAA recently lifted that requirement, much to the delight of county officials.

“That is a great location for us to pursue a hotel, and with the expansion of the terminal, it will be the perfect complement,” Heins said.

The airport has far exceeded expectations in terms of the number of passengers flying in and out, and legislators have decided to undertake a major expansion of the terminal.

They will decide next week on just how much bigger they will make the terminal.

LEASE REQUIRED

Under the agreement with the FAA, the Alert Facility property cannot be sold. It must be leased for at least fair-market value, and all proceeds of any deal must be used for airport-related expenditures.

Brown said the county will seek an appraiser to determine the fair-market value of the property.

The land lies in the City of Plattsburgh, and any development would be taxable. Taxes would go to the city, Plattsburgh City School District and the county.

Heins said a hotel would also benefit from the inexpensive electricity rates the city provides through its Municipal Lighting Department.

MLD has long held some of the lowest rates in the nation and is much less expensive than most other area utilities.

“That will be a big deal for developers, I would think,” Heins said.

DEVELOPMENT GOAL

Mayor Donald Kasprzak said he has been working with the county for several years on getting that property ready for development.

“I am very pleased that the idea of seeking a hotel is getting support from the legislators,” he said.

“This is one more step in making the airport a full-service airport and re-affirms the fact that we actually do provide some economic development in the city.”

Kasprzak said a hotel development would not only benefit the city and county with property- and sales-tax revenue, it would help nearby businesses.

“The impact of this will be great for the entire region,” he said.

At Wednesday night’s Airport Committee meeting, legislators agreed to advertise for proposals from developers for the Alert Facility property.

“This could be a major element to the success of the airport,” Legislator Mark Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) said.

Email Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

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