Proposed Pease air cargo facility moves forward at Portsmouth NH Airport

PORTSMOUTH – An air cargo facility for Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, proposed to be jointly developed by the Kane Company and Procon Construction, took a step forward on Thursday.

The Pease Development Authority board has agreed to a 180-day option on the two parcels Procon/Kane is considering at Hangar 227 at the end of Aviation Avenue and on a property adjacent to the north apron of the airport.

There is another air cargo proposal in play, that of East West Aeronautical, also for the northern apron package, called “North 40”. But Thursday’s board actions put the Procon/Kane proposal at least one step ahead of the East West proposal.

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The PDA oversees all developments, both on the airport side and on the Pease International Commercial Port side. Typically, the basic steps towards developing a PDA-controlled plot include an entry fee, optioning the plot, and then renting the plot.

A right of entry extending until May 31 has been granted to East West to carry out geotechnical and environmental assessments of the land to determine suitability for its proposed 465,000 square foot air cargo facility.

The Procon/Kane proposal went a step further with the unanimous approval of the PDA’s board of directors for options on authority-owned property.

In addressing the Procon/Kane proposal, PDA Executive Director Paul Brean said in a memo to the board that “the granting of an option agreement should be seen as a first step in the necessary planning for these projects. and does not guarantee that rental agreements will be completed, nor limit the necessary planning and review.

What does the Procon/Kane plan look like?

The Procon/Kane proposal is in two parts, each offered by a separate limited liability company.

Proposed Hangar 227, a four-acre facility originally used by the US Air Force when Pease was a Strategic Air Command base until its closure in 1991, calls for new construction of up to 400,000 square feet . This proposal is made by Aviation Avenue Group LLC.

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The land proposal adjacent to the North Apron is made by North 40 Group LLC. It requires 324,000 square feet of freight facility development. The undeveloped land is sometimes referred to as the “North 40” because it encompasses approximately 40 acres on the Newington side of the airport.

Their rights to enter the properties expire on January 31 and their options on the properties come into effect on February 1 and last for 180 days.

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“Procon/Kane has indicated that there is significant interest in these projects from a large number of potential end users, whose names are not currently subject to public disclosure, but would likely be familiar to all board members,” Brean said.

Procon is a Hooksett-based construction management company. The Kane Company is a business development company based in Portsmouth.

They have partnered on several projects over the years, several of which they showed to the board on Thursday morning that included airport facilities similar to what they want to do at Pease. They cited, among others, Prostar Aviation at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Signature Flight Support in Manchester and PlaneSense at Pease.

“It is exciting to have an established entity with significant development experience in the region interested in aerospace developments at Pease,” Brean said in his memo to the board.

The East-West Plan

The other air cargo proposal comes from Eric Robinson, CEO of East West Aeronautical, a freight forwarding and logistics company at Tradeport with an office at 1 New Hampshire Ave.

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While nothing specific has yet been provided to the board, a press release issued earlier this month indicated that it was partnering with an investor, Valorev Capital of Brooklyn, NY, to build what they called “Project ACX” on the land adjoining the north. apron.

The ACX (Air Cargo and Aviation Complex) project, according to the release, comprises 465,000 square feet of construction to include an air cargo center (250,000 square feet), a hangar / maintenance for large and small aircraft (150,000 square feet square) and research/development center with museum dedicated to the US Air Force and the Navy (65,000 square feet).

Robinson tried but was not allowed to address the council on Thursday morning. Board Chairman Kevin Smith had called for any public comment at the start of the session, but no one spoke up to be heard.

After the Procon/Kane votes on options, Robinson asked to be heard, saying he had registered before the meeting as a speaker, but Smith told him he had not been recognized when he had been lucky at the beginning of the meeting.

“It’s not fair; it’s just not fair,” Robinson said.

What happens next?

Pease has two separate areas of development, in accordance with the legislation that created the Tradeport in the first place. Pease owns the land and leases plots to developers who then construct and own the building but pay a ground lease to the PDA.

An area called ‘land side’ is for commercial and industrial development – office buildings and Lonza Biologics, for example. The other domain — the “air side” — is limited to developments related to aeronautics, PlaneSense for example.

Revenue from the development, according to Tradeport legislation, is intended to support the continued operation of the airport.

“As we look to the long-term growth and sustainability of Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, diversifying our airport development portfolio and increasing air traffic generation opportunities are critical to the long-term success of the airport,” Brean said. “Furthermore, the job growth and economic development these projects will stimulate is consistent with the PDA’s underlying mission and goals.”

Given the scale of the tandem projects, the board extended the option agreements for Procon/Kane from 60 to 180 days, including the provision that the developers begin work immediately on the impact statements on the traffic.

PDA board members from Newington, Portsmouth and Greenland (Margaret Lamson, Susan Parker and Erik Anderson, respectively) expressed concern about the impact handling air cargo at the airport would have on trafficking in their communities.

Concerns have also been raised about air traffic and noise, opening hours and environmental impact. The North 40 is located on the Newington side of the airfield where the New Hampshire Air National Guard is also stationed with its fleet of a dozen KC-46A tankers.

Lamson said that since the Tradeport’s inception, Newington wanted Pease not to become what she called “Logan North” in reference to Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Representing the project at Thursday’s meeting were John Stebbins, chief executive of Procon; Jennifer Stebbins Thomas, CEO of Procon; Paul Roy, director of business development Procon; and John Kane, director of the Kane Company.

Stebbins said they hope to be “in the ground” with construction by the fall.

According to Kane, there is a strong demand in the Northeast for cargo handling infrastructure. “Regionally, we know there’s a demand bubble and we want to push it up here,” Kane said, noting the “Amazon effect” on door-to-door delivery.

“Geographically, it works, it works,” Kane said. “There are some of the users we talk to who want to be on the trail, and they have a demand for that use, or some who don’t. But the fact is that there is a massive demand. But you have to build it,” Kane said.

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