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Million Air to build 35,000-square-foot hangar

Private Boeing 737s and other large corporate airplanes parked on the Medford airport tarmac will soon have a hangar of their own.

Million Air Medford, which caters to business and leisure clients, is poised to build a $5 million, 35,000-square-foot hangar just west of the control tower.

Crews demolished the old, 1940s-era former Jet Center and Southern Oregon Airways office building and hangar earlier this month, clearing the way for what will be among the largest hangars in the state.

"It's lower than the tower, but it will throw a pretty big shadow," said Joe Keith, Million Air Medford president.

Ground-breaking is scheduled later this month, with completion expected in October or November.

The project will give Million Air 75,000 square feet spread over four buildings. At present, the largest building is 25,000 square feet with a 28-foot-high door. The new hangar will have a ceiling apex of 68 feet and a 45-foot-high door and handle two 737s, side by side.

Million Air has planned to build the hangar since 2009, Keith said.

"We've been looking at it for a long time," Keith said. "We purchased the Jet Center buildings by the tower with the intent to ultimately build a hangar. Unfortunately, the cost of the building has been an issue."

Because the hangar will be a garage for airplanes, rather than a maintenance facility, the fixed-base operator was able to avoid the additional cost of foam fire protection, which would have added about $1.5 million to the project.

"That would have pushed it out of the realm," Keith said. "But with the optimism in the economy and a discovering a new technology, we can build, and do it on a budget we can get a return on the investment.

Britespan Fabric Buildings USA of Murrieta, California, is erecting the hangar. The firm has built hangars for Boeing in Everett and Seattle.

"It's a cost-effective and attractive building that lasts a long time," Keith said. "The fabric has to be replaced in 30 years, but that's built into the cost."

Million Air Medford is one of 30 global franchises, including Beijing and Cartagena, Colombia, handling ground service for general aviation. Many customers fly in on business, while other pilots fly in for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or wine tasting. Demand has risen since the former Medford Air facility across the tarmac to the north was acquired in 2013 by helicopter manufacturer and air-crane operator Erickson Inc.

"There are plenty of people wanting space, but we can't get them in," Keith said. "There are very few times since Medford Air closed where there weren't more planes than space. You can probably get three big planes — Gulf Streams, Bombardiers or Boeings — in there at once."

The largest hangars in the state are owned by the Air National Guard in Portland, the old Evergreen helicopter site out of Portland and an air museum in Tillamook.

"The Portland area is really our competitor, because there are really no big hangars anywhere in Oregon," Keith said. "If we have hangar space, (companies such as) NetJets and Flexjet will pay for it."

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

Artist's rendering shows Million Air's latest venture: a hangar capable of holding two private 737s. [Submitted drawing]