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County gets no bids for airport hotel

Clinton County legislators to revamp specifications for project, try again

By: JOE LoTEMPLIO

PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County has come up empty in its initial bid to develop a hotel at Plattsburgh International Airport.

“It is disappointing, but we will work through it,” said County Legislator Jimmy Langley, who chairs the county’s Airport Committee.

“It’s not the first time we’ve been disappointed, but we are not a give-up group.”

LEASE TERMS

The county sought bids from developers to build a hotel next to the airport terminal building on a 12-acre parcel that used to be site of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base Alert Facility.

The deadline for submitting proposals was Tuesday, but the county received no bids.

Langley (R-Area 7, Peru) speculated that the lack of interest may have been due to some of the terms of the specifications. Namely, the county wanted a 40-year lease of the property, which lies within the City of Plattsburgh.

“That might have turned some developers off, and we will take a look at that,” Langley said.

NO ONE TOURED

The county put out an information packet with the specifications for the project and arranged a time last month for prospective bidders to view the property.

Four out-of-town developers asked for the information packet, but none showed up on the tour date.

“That wasn’t a good sign,” Langley said.

The county will reach out to those four developers to find out why they didn’t submit bids and then will rework the project specifications.

LONGER-TERM FOCUS

Legislator Mark Dame, who chairs the county’s Finance Committee, said he believes a hotel project at the site is still viable.

“We will find out why no one bid, and I think we can re-work the specs so more in the hotel industry will be interested,” he said.

The county agreed last year to undertake a $54 million expansion of the terminal to accommodate the business the airport has generated since it opened in 2007.

While the airport has done well, there have been some recent concerns regarding one of its tenants, Allegiant Air.

Allegiant recently began operating twice-weekly flights to Orlando from Burlington International Airport in Vermont — in direct competition with flights they offer to Florida from Plattsburgh.

Allegiant also announced that it will end its direct service from Plattsburgh to Las Vegas on March 17. Since December 2012, the airline had flown two weekly flights to Las Vegas on 757 jets that seated 233 passengers.

The flights averaged about 190 passengers, but the airline restructured its routes and decided to end the service.

Dame said developers should not be put off by Allegiant’s decisions.

“The airport is going to have ups and downs over the long term, and you can’t just go by a small snapshot of what is going on now,” Dame said.

“There are a lot of airlines out there that will be looking at this airport, and you have to look long term.”

ZONING CHANGE

The parcel the county wants to use for the airport that is located in the City of Plattsburgh is not zoned to allow that use, so the city is working on changing its zoning laws to allow for a hotel.

Mayor James Calnon said that effort will continue.

“We are still committed to doing that, and I think we will make that change,” he said.

“We still think it is a good project.”

The city will hold a public hearing on the zoning change at next Thursday’s Common Council meeting.

Email Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com

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