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Wednesday, Apr 01, 2015

Lease of Air Center cleared


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County commissioners Friday voted 5-0 to lease the vacant Brooksville Air Center and adjacent hangar at the airport to Corporate Jet Solutions of Clearwater.

The lease is contingent on Corporate Jet Solutions providing details of its financial status to make sure it is capable of paying the lease and will meet certain minimum performance standards. The board gave the company 21 days to meet with staff and provide that data.

But the saga to rent the 25,000-square-foot complex at 15421 Technology Drive is not over.

John Petrick, president of American Aviation, in a letter to Chairman Dave Russell, said he will fire off a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration claiming the county is violating the airport minimum standards and airport sponsor assurances.

Petrick wrote that he would be willing to forego the complaint if certain conditions are met, including letting his company buy the Brooksville Air Center facility for $1.3 million immediately upon delivery of a clean title. Also, American Aviation will pay the county rent of $33,589 annually.

Petrick is also asking the county not approve the lease agreement with Corporate Jet Solutions and redo the bidding process.

Commissioners did not act on the letter Tuesday and it was forwarded to the legal office.

American Aviation is the only fixed-based operator at the airport. Corporate Jet Solutions, if its lease is approved, would become the second.

Company vice president Bradley Dye said he plans to bring up to 20 new jobs, 300,000 gallons of new fuel sales in the first year of operation, a repair shop, flight school and hangar rentals.

Dye said the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport is a business gateway for Tampa Bay, is poised for growth and his company wants to be part of all that.

Staff will negotiate the final lease terms in the next three weeks. The company is proposing it not be charged the first three months and then $9,000 per month afterward.

Corporate Jet Solutions would enter into a 10-year lease and would pay the county $1,875 per month to lease the adjacent 6,000-square-foot hangar on the opposite of the field.

Corporate Jet Solutions became the only bidder for the site after American Aviation president bowed out Thursday after Petrick, in another letter to Russell, said he will contest the “expedited nature of the proposal process, the completeness and viability of other submitted proposals.”

Petrick said his company retained a consultant while preparing the application package and, based upon the findings, withdrew its proposal to lease the former air center as a location for its planned expansion.

Instead, Petrick said American Aviation, the airport’s only fixed-base operator, will pursue “more appropriate avenues for our company’s continued growth.”

Russell said he wanted to assure all involved there were no backdoor deals being cut in this process.

“The whole idea here is to create continuity in the process and the public is being well-served,” he said.

County Commissioner Nick Nicholson said he doesn’t want a company at the airport that can’t pay the lease and Corporate Jet Solutions should have supplied its financial status before now.

If the company cannot show it is in good financial good standing, “I don’t want them in here,” Nicholson said.

County Commissioner Diane Rowden questioned American Aviation’s report and stressed the consultant was not hired by Hernando County.

“I think there is a lot of bias in that report,” Rowden said.

Nicholson agreed that the report was biased.

Aviation Authority Chairman Gary Schraut vehemently protested allegations being made that the process leading up to Friday’s meeting was somehow tainted.

Schraut said the authority stands by its recommendation of Corporate Jet Solutions.

(352) 544-5290

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