BROOKSVILLE - Only one month after the county bought the vacant Brooksville Air Facility, there are already three potential suitors interested in leasing the expansive facility.
JET ICU on Tuesday morning expressed an interest in leasing the building and joins Corporate Jet Solutions and American Aviation.
Don Silvernell, manager of the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, said Jet ICU has not submitted anything in writing but has indicated it would be able to make a presentation to the Aviation Authority board Thursday.
That bodes well for economic development efforts because the air center, which has been setting empty for almost a year at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, will be adding jobs, County Commissioner Dave Russell said.
"The ink's not even dry on the contract," Russell joked.
The Hernando County Aviation Authority will meet Thursday to vet the three candidates and possibly make a recommendation in time for next Tuesday's county commission meeting.
Silvernell said whichever company gets the recommendation would likely get a break in rent for the first couple months, a standard procedure. He has been quoting a monthly leasing price of $10,000.
Factoring in the grant money used to offset the initial cost, Hernando County could recoup its investment in two or three years, Russell said.
Of the $1.25 million, about 80 percent came from a Florida Department of Transportation grant and 20 percent from airport reserves.
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 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 purchase and subsequent search for a tenant has not been without controversy.
The county hired an appraiser to determine the property's value and offered a contract for $1.25 million. That deal closed in April. The transaction was criticized by the former manager of the Brooksville Air Center, who hired his own appraiser who determined the building was worth much less.
Shortly after that, a local citizen alleged there was an oil spill on the property but, after spending about $6,000 to investigate, the county found the claim unfounded.
More controversy arose last week during the county commission meeting when Bradley Dye of Corporate Jet Solutions, said it reached his ears that efforts were under way to hinder his chances.
Silvernell vigorously denies there are under-the-table negotiations going on and told Hernando Today he has worked at the airport for 13 years and "everything we've done has been above board."
"I am leaving in July and I am leaving with an absolutely clear conscience," said Silvernell, who is retiring.