The majority of business aviation hangar space at the $60 million massive new fixed base operation (FBO) set to open tomorrow at Washington, DC's Dulles international airport, has already been sold, the developer has revealed.
Proving the adage "if you build it they will come", practically all of the 15,000m2 (160,000ft2) of hangar area at the new Dulles Jet Center is already sold out, even before its official opening day tomorrow, says real estate developer Landow & Company.
Founder Nathan Landow, who together with his sons built the FBO at an estimated cost of $60 million, prefers to call the Jet Center "a corporate and private aircraft service centre". Part of the draw is the FBO's prime location on the airport; just 100m (300ft) from the departure hold area for runway 19L, one of three runways at the airport.
True to form for a high-rise developer and land management entrepreneur in Washington, DC, Landlow's building takes up practically all of the 8Ha (20 acres) of land he leased for 30 years from adjacent Signature Aviation, one of two existing FBOs at the Dulles. “We could have done less, but we decided to maximize our footprint,” Landow says. “There’s not a lot of landscaping; it’s either blacktop or hangar.” The blacktop includes 400 parking spaces landside and 37,000m2 of aircraft parking ramp airside. There’s also a 2,300m2 office complex complete with suites for corporate flight departments, conference rooms, pilot lounges, showers, even a laundry.
Flight was given exclusive access to the development ahead of its opening (see pictures below). The complex is nice, but it’s not luxurious. It’s the hangars and large ramp areas that are drawing customers. The facility includes four identical 3,700m2 hangars, with room for 8-10 medium-sized corporate aircraft, or as many as three large jets, such as the Bombardier Global Express. Each hangar has storage rooms around the perimeter where flight departments are asked to keep their tools and equipment when not working on the aircraft, a concept Landow calls “clean walls.” He formulated the idea when touring other FBOs in the fact-finding phase of the project. “We knew what we didn’t want ours to look like,” he says.
Photos: John Croft
Nathan Landow in front of his Gulfstream G200 in one of the four new hangars
The tool storage areas is part of the Clean Walls concept
The Dulles Jet Center is only 100m from the end of runway 19L
Customers have relocated from other airports in the region, some from across the airport. Landow says there’s been “no resistance” to his prices, even though he says he’s charging about 20% more than the going rate at the airport. Leases generally range 3-5 years, says David Landow, the business partner and son in charge of leasing arrangements. Under an agreement, Signature provides fuel via trucks for all tenants and visitors at the Jet Center. Customers make their arrangements directly with Signature. Landow’s other son and business partner, Michael, is in charge of construction.
John Pennisi, director of maintenance for tenant NII Aviation, says his company moved its operation to the Jet Center from Landmark Aviation at Dulles in mid-October. The reason for the move? “Not enough space [at Landmark]”, he says. NII currently has a Falcon 900EX in the hangar, but has two more aircraft on order, a Dassault Falcon 2000EX EASy and a Falcon 7X. Of Landow’s “clean walls” initiative, Pennisi says it’s a good idea in theory. “It’s a good plan, but I’m not sure how long it will last,” he says. “The problems occur when you start living in the place and start running out of space.”
An owner of corporate jets since 1981, the Jet Center is his first foray into the business side of business aviation, a role he plans to keep “for the long run.” “I developed the business as a real estate plan, an investment,” he says. “As it turns out, we have to be in the business as well.”