A South Carolina-based company kicked off construction Tuesday to build the third airline fueling and service facility at Chicago Executive Airport.
Hawthorne Global Aviation Services took over construction rights for the new facility earlier this month from Sovereign Development Group, the project's original developer. Sovereign was slated for the project by airport officials in March 2008 and was expected to start construction later that year, but the company could no longer afford to build the structure as the economy soured, said Dennis Rouleau, airport manager.
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Sovereign sought out Hawthorne, which will now build the 40,000-square-foot facility, formally known as a fixed-base operator. The facility will include a 30,000-square-foot hangar for airline fueling and a 10,000-square-foot space for passenger and pilot lounges on the south side of the airport, which is co-owned by the towns of Prospect Heights and Wheeling.
Both construction and services inside the finished facility will bring many new, much-needed jobs for the area, said Prospect Heights Mayor Nicholas Helmer. The development falls on the Prospect Heights-owned side of the airport, another reason Helmer said he's excited for the $8 million dollar project.
Facilities have popped up on the airport's north side over the past nine years, Helmer said, but it hasn't been the same on the south side.
"There's been virtually no development here. After a lot of effort and commitment, we'll have a large hangar," he said.
The project will be completed early next year, but no date has been set, said Steven P. Levesque, president and CEO of Hawthorne.
Hawthorne Vice President William Harton said company officials found Chicago to be a prime location for their third such operation in the country. This will be the group's first such facility in Illinois.
Meanwhile, the airport has been named the state's "Top Reliever Airport" by the Illinois Department of Transportation, said Susan Shea, the department's director of aeronautics. A reliever airport like Chicago Executive serves as a landing station for planes stuck in the air during certain emergency situations, such as inclement weather.
The airport mainly services small, corporate jets and averages about 80,000 takeoffs and landings a year, making it the state's third busiest airport, Shea said.