Airport to issue RFP for deteriorating Duchess Hangar

Prospective lessee would renovate or replace dilapidated building now serving as storage.

The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission approved a Request for Proposal to publicly bid the deteriorating Duchess Hangar, which is currently being used for storage. -Courtesy of Geoff Freeman

The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission (MVAC) is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for the derelict Duchess Hangar and the property it sits on.

In order to make the best use of the building, which is currently being used as ad hoc storage for equipment and materials, the airport is placing the approximately 19,190-square-foot property out to bid, although a prospective lessee has expressed interest.

Some seasonal storage for the airlines that service the Vineyard is also kept in the hangar.

The hangar, which takes up a large portion of the property it’s situated on, is southwest of the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting and Snow Removal Equipment building.

Martha’s Vineyard Airport director Geoff Freeman said the airport took ownership of the “fairly derelict building” around 2011. MVAC chair Bob Rosenbaum explained that the airport gained ownership of the building and property after a major legal battle with the person who built it. 

Freeman said the prospective lessee is potentially interested in renovating the existing hangar, or razing it and building a fresh one that is compatible with their aviation needs.

Although the area is planned to be used for additional apron space toward the end of the decade, Freeman said he thinks leasing the space to someone who will make good use of it is the best option for the airport currently.

If the airport chose not to lease out the hangar, Freeman said they would have to front the bill for tearing down the hangar, “which would be quite complex for the airport to be doing at that point.”

Commissioner Richard Knabel wondered what is going to happen to the equipment and material currently being stored in the hangar.

Freeman said there are other places to store the material and equipment, and noted that he sees the hangar as “your garage, where things go to die and collecting, thinking you are going to use it at some point later on.”

He added that most of what is being kept in the building will be taken away for scrap or put out to bid as airport surplus, in order to get some additional revenue for pieces of equipment that are beyond their useful life. 

Various airline ground service equipment used to be stored outside and shrink-wrapped, and at that time, Freeman said, the airport was not charging a storage fee, “which they should have been.”

“We offered the inside storage over the past few years so they wouldn’t have to use the shrink wrap, and we would be getting some nominal storage fees,” he said.

As of now, Freeman described the hangar as an eyesore that will soon become a safety hazard.

Commissioner Bob Zeltzer asked if there was any way the airport itself could make better use of the space, in order to generate a better income flow going forward, as opposed to leasing it out for development.

But Freeman answered that leasing the space is the most fiscally responsible thing to do, and will be the best option for revenue generation.

Additional property exists as parking spaces behind the hangar, and commissioner Don Ogilve asked if that area would be included in the lease.

Freeman said those parking spaces and the surrounding property will be part of any lease agreement.

He added that verbiage will be included in the lease stipulating green energy goals. The hangar is technically located in West Tisbury — an Island town that has been heavily involved with sustainable development, he said. “So we will be looking to adopt some of their recommendations for a green building,” Freeman said.