Cirrus Aircraft says it hopes to start construction within the next two months on its planned distribution center and showroom at McGhee Tyson Airport, with a goal of completion by mid-2016.
Company and local government officials gathered Thursday afternoon for a groundbreaking for the $15 million "Vision Center," which is expected to create 170 jobs.
On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority board approved a list of contracts and agreements that Bill King, Cirrus vice president of development, said will allow the project to proceed.
"This clears the path for us to go ahead and build," he said. "We are very excited."
Only a few challenges remain, King said.
"One is the weather, and the second is that right now, there is such a building boom in the United States the problem is the lead time on materials," he said. "It doesn't do a lot of good to start doing a lot of earthwork and then have to wait 12 weeks for the steel to arrive."
The airport authority board approved agreements that will allow construction to begin on the first of two buildings that Cirrus proposes, that pick contractors on that project and establish lease conditions for both building sites.
It approved a $1.96 million contract to Blaine Construction Corp. to design and build a 15,000-square-foot hangar, which is to be the first building for the 11-acre Cirrus campus. The contract also includes site preparation such as grading, drainage, utilities, fencing and paving.
The board also approved $78,648 for a professional services agreement with Partners Development, which will assist in development of the project and the review of drawings, specifications, cost estimates, and invoices for contract compliance and accuracy. Partners will assist in bidding, a preconstruction conference, monitoring of construction and closeout of the project.
Cirrus plans to use this building as an interim facility until the second one, which will be much larger, is complete, King said. The building is meant for servicing aircraft, but Cirrus will use it to take early deliveries of aircraft and for other purposes while the larger building is under construction.
"It will take many, many more months to build the more-complicated building," he said. "It will have some very sophisticated equipment."
The second building will be a delivery, training and service center. Cirrus intends its McGhee Tyson facility to be a national showroom for its aircraft, including a new personal jet, and a place where customers may choose the interior design features and paint schemes of their aircraft and train to operate them.
Duluth, Minn.-based Cirrus is known for its Vision SF50 personal jet, as well as other general aviation aircraft.
The airport board approved a land and building lease agreement for the hangar, which will sit on two acres. Rent for the building will be $110,255 per year, based on the amortization of the $2.05 million total cost of that project. Cirrus will rent the land at a rate of 20 cents per square foot.
Partners Development is proposing to build the delivery, training and service center for Cirrus, which will lease the 11-acre location for it. The board approved the creation of an agreement under which Cirrus would lease the land for 35 years at 20 cents per square foot. The lease would be administered by an entity to be created by Partners.
Both of the land lease agreements would have stipulations that could allow them to be extended for up to 50 years.
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