Hangar upgrades at center of airport project

THE HANGARS at the Tracy Municipal Airport are in dire need of replacement, and plans are taking shape to do just that. Photo / Per Peterson

By Per Peterson

Is there a market for new hangars at the Tracy Municipal Airport? And if so, how many?

Those were questions raised at a recent Tracy City Council meeting, as the City continues to look to rehabilitate the airport and make it more inviting for pilots.

The main issue surrounding the facility is updating the hangars, some of which are at least 70 years old.  While grading for the hangar project is expected to begin sometime this year, it’s up to the council to determine in the near future if the construction of four or eight new hangars should be worked into the City’s 2022 budget.

“Can we fill the eight hangars, or not?” Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen asked the council. “We’re going to have to get a loan from MnDOT for the hangars — that’s not a project you can get grant money for, because it’s considered a revenue-generating enterprise, so the FAA won’t give you any money for it.”

Hansen said the City needs to determine whether or not there is a market for as many as eight new hangars and that he and EDA Director Jeff Carpenter will be looking this summer for commitments from people who desire to sign a lease for a hangar.

“We’re gonna grade the site for eight hangars, but we’ll have to get a better sense by the end of the year as we start to look at the budget what we’re actually gonna build out there next year,” Hansen said.

The number of commitments the City gets will go a long way in determining how many hangars are built.

“We want to make sure we have money coming in in order to pay for any loan,” said Hansen.

The City currently receives $180 a quarter in rent per hangar. That cost will go up for the new hangars.

“We’re talking about a fairly substantial increase,” said Hansen. “You’re going from $180 a quarter to hundred of dollars a month, most likely. It’s gonna be a lot nicer for people, so I think the value is there, but you still have to make sure we have people that are willing to pay that.”

Hansen said if eight hangars are built and only half of them are rented out, the City would have to dip into the General Fund to cover any loan payment.

“So your general tax dollars would essentially be paying for the airport,” he said. “That’s why I think it’s important that it kind of pays its own way — it wouldn’t sit well with the public to use general fund money on that.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.