Bill Stenger, a developer in the Northeast Kingdom, unveiled plans for a 10,000-square-foot airline terminal, warehouse and flight design assembly facility at the Newport State Airport in Coventry last week.
The $20 million facility is a key part of Stenger’s master plan for more than $600 million worth of developments in the region, including a Renaissance office building in downtown Newport, a $300 million expansion of Jay Peak ski resort, a $110 million biotech plant in Newport and a $198 million overhaul of Q Burke ski resort in East Burke.
“As we look at the economic development of the region and the expansion of Jay Peak, and the improvement and development of the area, this airport becomes an increasingly important part of the economic development of our region,” Stenger told local officials last Thursday.
About 1 million people visit Jay Peak annually, Stenger said, and the resort will make the expanded airport “an important part of our push to invite people to come here by private aviation and, ultimately, we hope, by commercial aviation.”
Regional flight service to New York and Boston will help to broaden the base of the tourism market for the resorts, he said.
The airport expansion is subsidized, in part, by the state, which owns the land. The state is building a 5,000-foot-long runway at the site and will expand an existing 4,000-foot runway, which will be used as a taxiway for private jets carrying 15 to 20 passengers.
Guy Rouelle, the state aviation director, said the new runway could accommodate a 70-passenger commercial plane.
Now, the airport handles 8,825 flights per year; once the improvements are made, Rouelle projects usage will rise 44 percent, to 12,732 flights.
The Coventry airport, which has several small hangars and one runway, will be renamed Northeast Kingdom International Airport in October. The runway construction is underway, and the airport facility will be built in 2016.
The new terminal will be owned by a combination of private entities, Stenger said, and will be financed by commercial loans, private-public partnerships and EB-5 immigrant investor funds. The developments at Jay Peak, Q Burke and AnC Bio Vermont are largely funded through EB-5. The airport and Renaissance projects have not been approved by the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center.
Stenger says the new terminal will serve regional customers who want to ski at the two resorts; draw commercial aviation customers from Sherbrooke, Quebec; and serve as a distribution hub for stem cell products developed at AnC Bio Vermont, a biotech laboratory and medical device facility under construction in Newport.
Newport, Stenger said, is a much closer and convenient location for the quarter-million residents who would otherwise have to travel to Montreal for airline service. The terminal will include a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office for international passengers.
Stenger and his partner, Ariel Quiros Jr., also own Flight Design USA, which will use the airport facility to assemble five light aircraft per year.
The airport improvements are crucial, Stenger said, to the competitiveness of the biotech operation.
“Two years ago, we had a meeting with some very renowned stem cell and gene (research) leaders from around the world who were letting us know that one of the factors of success for AnC Bio will be our ability to produce medical products in the facility and get it immediately to a quality hospital as quickly as possible,” Stenger said.
“We’ve often been asked, ‘How can you compete with Boston?’ When you go from a scientific production facility and can be in the air in 15 minutes, we not only compete with Boston, but we exceed what a city like that can do.
“That’s another reason why this airport is so important to the economic development of our region.”
- Bill Stenger
- Ariel Quiros
- Vermont EB5 Regional Center
- Jay Peak - AnC Bio Vermont
- Jay Peak - Q Burke Mountain Resort, Hotel and Conference Center L.P.
- Newport Main Street Renaissance Block
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