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Facelift due for aging airport building

By BY DAVID TEWES
July 26, 2010 at 2:26 a.m.


Last upgradeThe last time the building housing the fixed-base operator got a makeover was in 2003.

That came after strong Category 1 Hurricane Claudette damaged the building on July 15 that year.

Sometimes it takes spending money to make money.

That's why the Victoria County Commissioners Court on Monday accepted a plan to remodel a building that houses one of the largest revenue-makers at the airport.

The court approved accepting a $50,000 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation to give the fixed-based operator building a facelift. It also agreed to chip in another $50,000 in county funds for the project.

The fixed-based operator handles general aviation and military air traffic and is busier than the commercial terminal next door.

"If we have businessmen come in looking to invest in Victoria, the first thing they see is our fixed-base operator," said S.F. "Trey" Ruschhaupt, chairman of the Victoria Regional Airport commission. "I think it's very important for them to get a good impression of, not only the airport, but also Victoria."

Jason Milewski, whose company oversees the airport operation, said planned improvements include changing the lighting, new flooring, and painting the hangar floor and walls. It also includes painting the exterior of the building and landscaping.

"The fixed-base operator runs good and it's clean, but it's a little bit dated in its look," Milewski said. "If you look at other successful airports and what they've done in order to entice more corporate traffic, it's upgrade the fixed-base operator to make it look a little more inviting."

He believes that will increase traffic, which will in turn increase revenue. The operation is projected to make $1.8 million next year through fuel sales to military and civilian aircraft and through hangar rental.

Milewski said he's also planning other improvements in future years as the funding becomes available. That will include such things as updated bathrooms and a change in the layout of the building.

"Hopefully, we can get some more activity and more events going on a regular basis," he said. "What we're trying to do is turn it into something that's more inviting and something that represents Victoria a little better."

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