New hangars going up at Hayward Airport

It’s tough for pilots to find a sheltered place to park their airplanes in the Bay Area, and a developer is adding to the stock of hangars available at the Hayward Executive Airport.

Jim Altschul of Hayward Hangars said he first heard of the possible opportunity to pick up a ground lease at the airport in 2003.

It was finalized, and he secured needed permits in 2007, but the flagging economy grounded the project until last year.

The foundation is being laid for two buildings that will contain a total of 30 hangars, the first of which Altschul expects to be ready by the end of summer.

Altschul called the Bay Area “one of the best places” to build hangars, and he said Hayward is especially plum because of its central location and favorable wind conditions.

About 450 planes are based in Hayward, and there’s a 70-strong waiting list for existing hangar space, said airport manager Doug McNeeley. He said it’s been that way for at least 20 years, and other airports in the area have a similar wait.

While some companies have large hangars housing multiple aircraft, the bulk of planes housed in Hayward are in traditional T-shaped constructions designed to accommodate the most airplanes in the least space possible. Of the 207 city-owned hangars, 192 are T-shaped.

Altschul said he’s putting in larger spaces than the traditional hangars because they are more profitable, and people like having additional space for storage, or a couch, or other amenities.

“People are moving away from T-hangars,” said David Flory of Flory Construction, who has been involved in similar projects for decades. “Rent is so low, it’s hard to make any money at it. The box hangars are the current trend.”

Altschul also said that sales of higher-end aircraft have held up, and owners don’t want to store those planes outdoors.

“If you have a 30-year-old plane, you might be indifferent to leaving it outside,” Altschul said. “But if you spend $200,000 to $300,000 on a new airplane, you don’t want to leave it exposed to the elements.”

Altschul expects the first building with 18 hangars to be ready by August, the second structure of 12 larger rooms by the end of the year.

In January, the City Council approved another developer’s plans to renovate the Air National Guard site and turn it into hangars and a museum dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen.

The site needs considerable work, and as part of the deal, Hayward Airport Development will invest $1.5 million for infrastructure improvements in the first phase of a five-part plan.

McNeeley said the city is still negotiating terms with the developer, but expects to see the project move forward sometime this year.

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