California City Airport Land Adjacent

Thursday, January 20, 2005
Agency postpones decision on lease, land sale requests
The Antelope Valley (CA) Press

CALIFORNIA CITY – Two proposals – one to expand an existing aviation business and one for a modular-home manufacturer – are competing for approval by the California City Redevelopment Agency. The proposals, which involve agency land adjacent to California City Municipal Airport, came up for discussion Tuesday night, but members of the City Council, sitting as the Redevelopment Agency board, decided to postpone a decision until more details could be presented. The proposals will be re-examined Feb. 15 at the next regular agency meeting.

The land in question is inside the 40-acre industrial park adjacent the north side of the airport.

The first proposal, from Apple Tree Constructors Inc., is to lease 37 acres with an option to purchase the land, where the company plans to build a facility for manufacturing modular homes. The California City site would be the first of many planned throughout the country.

In its proposal, the Moreno Valley-based company said it anticipates overseas orders for 2,000 to 6,000 of the homes in the first year, escalating after that. The company’s estimated annual revenues are in excess of $50 million in the second year.

The second proposal is from existing airport tenant D&T Aviation, which seeks about five acres of the same industrial park land to expand the business.

Owner Trudy Hopper told the agency board that the business had been trying to buy land to expand for three years. They want to build three hangars and expand their activities to include aircraft painting and service for jet aircraft.

“We’re getting calls weekly to paint aircraft. We’re getting calls to repair larger aircraft,” Hopper said. “We have people who are willing to come in.”

The company did not further pursue itbecause they were under the impression that they could not purchase the land per Federal Aviation Administration rules.

The airport has some $700,000 in federal grant money for land acquisition. If the airport were to purchase the industrial park land that abuts the airport property, it could then lease it to aviation-related businesses and remain eligible for FAA grants for improvements to the site, said airport manager Tom Weil. If the airport does not own the land against the fence, those grants will no longer be available, he said.

Most of the parcels in the north side property have direct access to the airport flightline.

The agency went ahead with a public hearing for the Apple Tree proposal, which has been under consideration for some months, but was recently revised.

Charles Sprout, chairman of the California City Airport Advisory Board, asked that the airport be allowed to purchase the land to preserve it for aviation business and airport expansion.

“It is our first real opportunity to do this,” he said. “We do not want that sold off piecemeal or as a whole unit.”

Local Realtor Pat Gorden spoke against selling virtually the entire park to a single business with no guarantee of jobs or economic success.

“I think it’s the wrong time to tie this property up,” she said.