Jet hangar could bring in cash for county

January 31, 2007 12:00 am

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

A big question mark lies in the path of a Colorado woman's application to build a private jet hangar at Del Norte County Airport.

The question may be answered when her application to construct a 10,000-square-foot hangar at the airport is discussed during the Planning Commission's Feb. 7 hearing.

Pat Stryker of Fort Collins, Colo., wants to build the structure to house a Gulfstream IV corporate jet when she flies to Crescent City.

She owns two homes here, but lives in Colorado. The aircraft is owned by Bohemia Air, LLC.

Dan Brattain said the Colorado woman's interest in the county's airport sets a precedent.

"It's the first time we've had interest in building a facility this size," he said. "They've been talking about doing this for at least a couple of years," he said

Even better, were it built, the big hangar would generate "a nice annual income for the airport."

County Assessor Louise Brown estimates the hangar could be worth between $300,000-$400,000 for taxation purposes after it's built. Without knowing Stryker's plans for the building she stressed the value is "very preliminary."

Property tax on such a structure, 1 percent per square foot, would generate between $3,000-$4,000 for the county's general fund.

In addition the airport would receive 10 cents per square foot annual lease monies for the building along with its 10 cents per gallon for aviation fuel the jet would need.

The addition would create a nice chunk of change for the airport and county coffers.

Stryker filed her application Sept. 9 through her local agent, Marshall Jones. It's been going through the required permitting processes since that time and is scheduled for a hearing before Del Norte County Planning Commission Feb. 7.

Although Ernie Perry, director of the county's Community Development department, has deemed that the project will have no significant environmental impact on its surroundings, Stryker's Colorado spokesman Roger Warren said its backers now wonder whether they'll proceed with it.

"The hangar project is up in the air and there's a 50-50 chance we won't be doing it," he said. "We've had a terrible time getting permitted, it's taken a long time and there's a high cost."

Cost, Warren said, is the predominant reason for the question mark, although he said the county has "worked very hard to help us with it (the permitting process).

"We had to move the project (from its original site) to an area that needs more infrastructure and the cost went up," he said.

Airport Manager Jim Bernard helped find a new site for the hangar, working with the Federal Aviation Administration to do so, according to Perry.

Bernard did not respond to an e-mail sent to him Tuesday for his comments on several points regarding the hanger.

The new site requires relocation of a fire hydrant, paving of existing graded and gravel surfaces to connect to taxiways and the addition of gravel over graded or partially graveled surfaces to create emergency access.

Perry estimated the infrastructure cost to be "not significant."

"The airport rebuilt the taxiway near the building last year," he said. "The cost of moving the water line is not something everyone wants to pay for, but it's right where she wants the hangar."

Warren didn't share further details of Stryker's plans, other than to specify that the plane would be used for personal use and is not part of a business development.

"Now that we've started the ball in motion, we'll wait to see if it gets approved and then make a decision," he said.

"We have our fingers crossed that they'll come in," said Brattain. "This is what the airport's all about.

Stryker and her siblings Ronda and Jon control Stryker Corp. medical supply company founded by her grandfather Homer.

She is listed on Forbes.com as the 512th wealthiest person in the world.

Stryker, 49, bought Sonoma's Sommer Vineyards in 1999. She rebuilt and replanted the vineyard and changed the name to Stryker Sonoma. The 32-acre property produces classic vinifera varietals, chardonnay and zinfandel.