May 3, 2013
Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal
Cecil Airport on Jacksonville’s Westside is full.
That has prompted the Jacksonville Aviation Authority — which manages the airport — to clear a 150-acre lot on the northeast side of the runway and pre-developed it, beginning the next phase of Cecil’s buildout.
“ The existing buildings are all leased,” said Bob Simpson, chief of Cecil Airport. “And, we don’t have any left of what I would call land that could be developed.”
Up on the northwest corner there’s a small parcel — 30 acres — that had been prepared and permitted for building of military aircraft, but no other property is left on the west or south sides of the runway.
“We’re getting [the northeast parcel] ready because it’s a lot easier to market than if you just showed a piece of land with trees on it and said, ‘imagine what it can be,’” Simpson said. “Typically when developers come to us for large-scale projects, you have to include the size of the apron to park the aircraft. You have to have the size of the hangar the warehouse, and if there is one, the office building. You have to have room for the parking lot, storm water retention. So you eat up property real fast.
“While we do have that 30-acre parcel on the northwest corner, what we didn’t have were large parcels — 50 to 100 acres — that we could even market. That property wasn’t accessible to the airfield, nor was it accessible to roadways, nor was it cleared. So, it didn’t present itself well.
The site has been cleared and the JAA will start construction on the taxiway and road after a grant approval, expected in June.
“It’s about a four to six month construction time period. But, if somebody decided to start building a hangar today, by the time they get the design and the permitting done, ... I’ll have the taxiway and the roadway in.”
The reasons behind the success at Cecil, today home to military aircraft, commercial airplane maintenance facilities and major aerospace firms such as Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Northrop Grumman Corp. [NYSE: NOC], stretch back to groundwork laid more than a decade ago, when the former naval air station was closed and the land was deeded to the city and JAA under a government reuse plan.
Since 1999, when the JAA took over the airfield, through 2011, government agencies have re-invested a total of $113.7 million in Cecil. More projects have been completed recently.