Airport officials in January submitted a contract of $1.25 million to buy the foreclosed Brooksville Air Center in the corporate park.
Despite criticism from a local businessman, who called it too steep, the offer seemed reasonable, airport officials said.
Today, with the issuance of an independent appraisal paid for by the airport, the original offer is justified, said Airport Manager Don Silvernell.
“It was a fair and reasonable offer and this appraisal proves it,” Silvernell said.
Silvernell said the building inspections and environmental assessments are completed and he will move forward with the bank and work on a final closing.
The airport manager said he talked with at least two companies interested in leasing the facility. One is putting a business plan together. Another, a company that owns Learjets, is coming next week to view the property.
Located at 15421 Technology Drive, the facility includes an expansive airplane hangar and administrative building, encompassing some 25,000 square feet and both with easy access to the runway.
The air center, which sits on 11 acres of county-owned property, became available after it went into foreclosure. The bank held a foreclosure auction with a $1.5 million bid but there were no takers.
The air center is located on the western edge of airport property, off Aerial Way, which bisects the Target and Kohl’s department stores. Air Center officials signed a lease with the airport in 2009 but, for whatever reason, couldn’t make a go of it.
“In hindsight, it looks like we did pretty good,” Hernando County Aviation Authority Chairman Gary Schraut said of the appraisal.
The building will only increase in value, he said.
The appraiser, Hugh Tolle from Crystal River, appraised the facility using comparable property sales from six to nine months ago and doesn’t reflect the current state of the real estate market, which continues to improve, Schraut said.
“I would be surprised if we don’t have it occupied by the fall,” he said. “This is a great asset to have on this airport. Someone or somebody across the country is going to want to take advantage of it.”
In his report summary, appraiser Hugh Tolle said the neighborhood near the air center offers “good highway access and newer commercial-industrial growth reflects positively on its development even during the sluggish economic conditions.”
The Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and surrounding Technology Center, he wrote, “continues to grow (and) is highly promoted by Hernando County.”
Robert Rey, president of Jet Concepts Inc., criticized the airport’s $1.25 million offer at the time as being too high and submitted to county commissioners a study he commissioned from a real estate appraiser that determined the vacant facility’s worth was $790,000 to $940,000.
His company managed the old Brooksville Air Center facility.
“I certainly would not care if a private entity wanted to spend above-retail, as that is part of the capitalistic system,” Rey wrote to county commissioners. “However, the government should not be so liberal with our tax dollars.”
Rey on Tuesday questioned the Tolle report and plans to look at the appraisal to find out how the appraisal was reached.
County Commission Chairman Dave Russell said the appraiser was painstakingly complete in his report, which accounted for the length of time.
“To say that it was thorough would be an understatement,” he said.
Had Tolle come back with a lower appraisal, the county could have made a lower offer on the property, Russell said.