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Tuesday, Dec 6, 2022
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Open Space Quickly Fills Near Van Nuys Runway

Clay Lacy Aviation is still a few months away from completing the first phase of a redevelopment program at Van Nuys Airport, but the company has already seen interest in taking the space. On a 6-acre parcel adjacent to its corporate offices and fixed-base operation, a new 63,000-square-foot hangar is already full with planes and the 20,500-square-foot office building next door is 80 percent leased by aviation businesses. Scott Cutshall, vice president of marketing, expects the remaining space to be taken by early next year. The office building is still under construction and will be completed by early March. It includes a small display hangar for showing off the first Lear jet brought to Van Nuys by Clay Lacy. The walls will be decorated with photos from Lacy’s aviation career, Cutshall said. The company broke ground on the $10 million project in February of last year. The second phase of the overall project is renovating a leasehold that the company took over from Syncro Aircraft Interiors. The firm plans to turn that space over to its maintenance, avionics and interiors departments. Phase three is redoing the current corporate office building, built in 1981. If it all works out right, the redevelopment project will end as Clay Lacy Aviation marks its 50th year at Van Nuys Airport. “We see this as a big rejuvenation and preparing the company for the next 50 years,” Cutshall said. Airport-Adjacent Development Los Angeles County has development plans for two of its airports, Whiteman Airport in Pacoima and Gen. William J. Fox Airport in Lancaster. Both airfields play an important part in their respective local economies serving general aviation pilots and businesses. Richard Smith, chief of the county’s aviation division, said his department is primed and ready for new development at both locations. “If there is interest out there today, we are standing by and ready to assist however the business community may need us to,” Smith said. At Whiteman, there is an empty 2-acre parcel and a 5-acre parcel with three building and parking lots that is ready for redevelopment. The county would consider all aeronautical uses for the land, with a focus on consolidating helicopter operations, Smith said, adding there are five commercial helicopter operators there now. “It is very inefficient for them to operate because they have such a long dolly to and from their storage areas to get to a spot that is safe to take off,” Smith said. The county has not been actively marketing the property. There had been a developer chosen by the county for the project but it pulled out over financing issues, Smith said. “It is a big thing for one person to take on their own,” Smith said of the 5-acre plot. “One thing we are looking at is parceling the areas out to see if we can get some interest there.” Whiteman has an economic output of $55 million a year and supports 412 jobs. Fox Field in comparison has an economic benefit of $14 million and supports 158 jobs, but the airfield has 400 acres to develop, Smith said. Completely surrounded by the City of Lancaster, the airport has a 7,000-foot runway that can accommodate aircraft in size up to a Boeing 737. The county is applying for a grant to have the runway reconstructed to handle airplanes weighing 160,000 to 200,000 pounds. “There is room there for a small freight forwarder,” he added. “It would be an ideal operation for UPS or FedEx or the like.” Sky High Hiring Channel Islands Aviation at the Camarillo Airport is in the midst of a hiring spree. The air charter and flight school has already brought on board a flight instructor and two charter pilots. By year’s end it wants to have another three pilots, one to two flight instructors as well as a chief inspector and customer service manager for the maintenance department. Sarah Oberman Bartush, chief marketing officer and director of business development for the family-owned firm, said the hiring reflects the expansion it has seen this year. “Normally we see a slowdown in the fall and winter months,” Bartush said. “We are looking at being busier than we have in a long time this time of year.” Bartush said the company has a goal of becoming a bigger player with its jet charter operations. Currently it uses managed aircraft for the charter business but in three to five years wants to own its own planes, she added. “There really is a lot of business to go around,” Bartush said. “Even as we grow, it’s not as though we are going to take away business from somebody. The demand is just here.” Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or mmadler@sfvbj.com.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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