Almost a half-million square feet of hangar space is being proposed for an area of Hanscom Field close to Hartwell Road.
According to a state-required form filed by the developer, the project encompasses 27 new buildings plus the existing structure known as the Navy hangar on almost 50 acres.
The details are provided on an environmental justice screening form, submitted several weeks ago by North Airfield Ventures and Runway Realty Ventures, two limited liability corporations collaborating on a response to a request for proposals from the Massachusetts Port Authority.
This would be the first major Massport development on the Hartwell Road airport side, which Massport labels North Airfield.
The screening form also mentions “incorporating a living history museum into the proposed development.” That would be located in the former Navy hangar, according to Massport documents.
Detailed environmental justice reports, required under the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act, are scheduled to be filed this week. The process will include a public comment period. The state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs oversees the environmental justice policy.
According to the screening form, “The proposed 49-acre development on the North Airfield and existing Navy parcel of L.G. Hanscom Field will provide approximately 495,470 square feet of hangar space in the form of 27 purpose-built hangars for aircraft parking and storage.”
The adjacent Navy hangar, which was purchased from the federal government by a private investor after an auction in 2018, “will be refurbished and renovated.” The area of the old hangar is 87,110 square feet, the form says; new development totals 408,360 square feet.
A term sheet detailing an agreement between Massport and Runway Realty Ventures states that operations at the Navy hangar would include “the provision of aviation products and services, aircraft maintenance and ground handling services, associated office and business support space, and passenger, employee and crew services.”
The overall project is intended “to meet the current and future demand for corporate hangar space” at Hanscom, as a complement to existing maintenance, repair, and overhaul facilities at the three fixed-based operators on the south and west sides of the airfield, the document says.
After he was awarded the bid for the project several months ago, Michael Argiros, one of the principals of North Airfield Ventures, was asked about the planned size of the new facility. He said that will depend on the market for hangar space.
The environmental justice screening form repeats a talking point Massport has been advancing for several years: there is not enough hangar space at Hanscom, and often corporate passengers have to be dropped off. By creating space for aircraft storage, the result will be a reduction of these “ferry flights” and of overall operations, “impacting noise and air quality.”
The screening form addresses several environmental concerns expected to be raised by Bedford officials and residents.
“Traffic related to fueling and aircraft maintenance will be primarily confined to the airfield and will have minimal impact on the surrounding roadway network,” the report says. Developers have said that there will be no fueling at North Airfield.
The hangars will be “set back from the road,” the screening form says, “and a continuous row of hangars has been placed parallel to the road with the intended effect of minimizing visual impact and buffering noise generated by aircraft ground movements.”
The port authority’s initial plan to develop the North Airfield space was in January 2017 when it was decided to issue a request for proposals “for new corporate hangar opportunities.”
The request wasn’t released until February 2018 when Massport was looking for someone to build 165,000 square feet of hangar space, as acknowledged in the most recent Hanscom Environmental Status and Planning Report.
But the only realization was a contract for the construction of some small so-called T-hangars, replacing older structures that were replaced by the expansion of Rectrix, on the Concord end of the runway.
Massport says Hanscom Field, as “the region’s premier full-service general aviation airport,” plays “a critical role in the regional aviation system as an FAA-designated general aviation reliever for Logan Airport. Massport’s long-term strategy for Hanscom Field is to facilitate developments compatible with Hanscom Field’s aviation mission
, and enhance revenue generation.”
Regarding the landscape, the developer states, “Existing plantings and topography “will be respected to the greatest extent possible to minimize the visual obtrusiveness of the development to the public.”
Development on Massport property is exempt from local permitting, though the buildings would connect to Bedford water and sewer systems.