Renovation, building addition planned at Rowan County Airport

Published 12:05 am Saturday, January 7, 2017

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — A new pilots lounge, expanded conference room and office addition are on tap at the Rowan County Airport in 2017.

For months, county officials have talked about the addition. On Tuesday, county commissioners hired local architecture firm Ramsay, Burgin, Smith to oversee the project, which is estimated to cost $285,000. County Manager Aaron Church says the renovation should be complete by Christmas at the latest.

County leaders began discussing the idea when the airport’s conference room became too small for regular meetings. The construction project includes a 556-square-foot conference room, and the old space — 277 square feet — will become a pilots lounge. The current, 121-square-foot pilots lounge will be converted into an office that Airport Director Thad Howell said may be leased out.

County Manager Aaron Church said the project “already has and will retain additional investment in the airport.” He said the county is “on the brink of securing a new business that will be a pretty significant investment.” He would not elaborate on the business prospect.

Howell and Church said the county is currently in the design phase of the airport renovation and addition. Howell said the appearance of the new conference room will blend in visually with the terminal.

Howell said executives of local companies occasionally fly into the airport and have meetings in the conference room. The new room will ensure that the space is large enough for such meetings.

“The people will fly in and come over to our airport,” Howell said. “There’s, like, 15 people that get off of the airplane, come use our conference room, do what they have to do and then leave. That’s why we want a first-class conference room.”

At airport board meetings, for example, people in the past have been forced to sit on the stairs at the entrance to the room. Chairs usually line the walls of the conference room, and extra chairs are sometimes brought in from other rooms.

Howell said pilots occasionally have hours-long layovers between takeoffs and landings. The current lounge is in a hallway that can be busy at times and is less than half of the size of the new pilots lounge, he said.

Both Howell and Church said it’s likely that the conference room addition and renovation will be complete before the December deadline. It will be the latest of a few recent additions to the airport, which county commissioners have focused on as a site for economic development. Additions in past few years have included two corporate airplane hangars and a small office building.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.