by Pam Zubeck
After the airline’s exit from COS, the Airport acquired the ETU from Western Pacific. Tenants and staff have utilized the ETU as training and meeting space over the past 15 years. Additionally, the ETU is maintained so that it may be used in case of aircraft emergencies and diverted aircraft. However, due to the fact that the main concourse meets capacity requirements in terms of area and gate space, the ETU was not outfitted with a security screening checkpoint after 9/11 and is thus currently not suitable for the accommodation of regularly-scheduled airline operations.
In collaboration with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) leadership, Airport management has identified an opportunity to lease a portion of the vacant ETU to the TSA, who is currently seeking new office space. The TSA local office is currently located off-site from the Colorado Springs Airport, which has historically presented coordination inefficiencies amongst TSA personnel and between the TSA and Airport management.
Although the total appropriation amounts to $860,000, only 52.0% of this dollar value reflects improvements to the building, creation of office space, and a tenant improvement allowance, all of which are costs the Airport must incur to create usable space. These costs will be recovered within three years from annual lease payments that will be due from the TSA. To gain maximum efficiency, the TSA has also asked the Airport to construct custom finishes and improvements while the space is under construction, which represents the remaining approximate 48.0% of the estimate. Repayment of these costs will be made through a finance lease in addition to the standard lease. Negotiations are currently under discussion, but the TSA has made preliminary commitments to lease the space for an initial term of 10 years.The project is endorsed by the Airport Task Force, chaired by Bill Hybl, CEO of the El Pomar Foundation, and the Airport Advisory Commission.
Finally, in September 2013, the Airport applied for a loan from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) to fund the PFC and Airport Capital Fund portions of on-going and planned capital projects through the end of 2014. If approved, the loan would fund this project so that the Airport Capital Fund could instead be utilized to pay down the Airport’s bond debt. However, if approval is not granted by CDOT, the Airport will plan to pay the project costs out of the Airport Capital Fund as identified above.