A multimillion-dollar complex of private jet hangars could be coming to the Camarillo Airport, filling part of the land once occupied by an expanse of unsold cars.
Calabasas developer RKR Inc. has proposed building four upscale hangars on six acres at the northeast end of the public airport near Las Posas Road and Ventura Boulevard. Late last month, the project won a key vote when the Ventura County Board of Supervisors authorized a two-year option agreement for a lease of the county-owned land on which the four hangars would sit.
The option gives RKR time to determine the feasibility of the project, conduct environmental and geotechnical studies, and do other work. If the developer ultimately goes ahead with the project, the land lease would last 40 years and may be extended for an additional 10. Then the hangar facility, which would be called Cloud 9 at Camarillo, would revert to the airport’s ownership.
Stretching over 120,000 square feet, the project would be built of steel, metal and glass, said Ronald Rasak, president of the commercial development company. The hangar project could accommodate at least eight planes plus offices, airport officials said. RKR has agreed to invest at least $20 million in the hangars and associated improvements if the project goes ahead. The developer would be obligated to build parking, a private entrance off Los Posas Road and a path for aircraft that would connect to a taxiway and the runway, airport officials said.
The complex would be one of the costliest aviation-related developments ever constructed at the airport in one phase, said Jorge Rubio, deputy director of the county Department of Airports.
RKR is paying the county $2,000 a month for the option and about $19,000 a month if the lease is executed. RKR has two years to commit to the project and sign the lease, Rubio said.
The site is vacant now but was part of airport land devoted to storage of Hyundai and Kia cars over the past few years. Businesses that prepare the cars for sale turned to the county-owned airports in Camarillo and Oxnard to handle the overflow before the vehicles were trucked to dealers, bringing close to $5 million in land rent. But the cash stream ended early this year, reportedly because the carmakers decided to keep less inventory on hand.
Rubio said a project like the one Rasak proposed has been designated as an allowed use in the airport’s master plan, which was adopted in 2011. Small hangars for pilots are allowed in the plan, but so are large ones that serve the business community, he said. Rubio said 65 corporate jets are located at the airport.
“It is a balance,” he said.
Rubio said managers issued a request for proposals for a large hangar development of this type in February after learning that airport tenants and outside entities were interested. After no one responded to the request, RKR approached airport officials with its proposal, Rubio said. Rasak said some aviation businesses at the airport did express concerns, questioning whether the project would take away tenants, compete with them to sell fuel and offer charter plane service.
In a letter posted on the board’s agenda, he said the project for high-end customers would not be targeting the same clients as other businesses do and that he would not sell fuel or run a charter operation.
Rasak said he’s targeting companies and wealthy individuals who want their own private hangar space at the centrally located airport. Prospects include celebrities, sports teams and current and former corporate CEO’s, he said.
Rasak said the airport location is attractive not just to residents of Ventura County, but also for people who live in Malibu, Montecito and Santa Barbara.
People who lease or buy the hangars can enter a private entrance off Las Posas Road, he said. He’s also looking into the possibility of building solar-covered parking near the canal at the edge of the airport.
“We believe there will a lot of pent-up demand for something like this,” he said.
Supervisors asked airport officials to investigate whether an impact fee could be charged to the jet owners for the impact their planes would have on the environment. A report on the request is still pending.