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Airport Authority Passes Motion To Sell Industrial Lot

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The Gainesville-Alachua County Regional Airport Authority (GACRAA) voted unanimously Thursday in favor of selling Airport Industrial Park Lot 6 to an undisclosed buyer known only as Regional Development Company Inc.

The lot is located in the 4600 block of NE 49th Avenue, just east of the Buchholz Paint and Autobody, Inc.

The buyer is maintaining anonymity throughout the purchasing process, working through Fischer and Company, a Dallas, TX-based corporate real estate company. In a Jan. 23 letter of interest, the company offered the city $296,000 (about $35,000 per acre) for the 8.45-acre lot. The price is exactly the same as the lot’s appraisal value, as assessed by Santangini Appraisals on Jan. 10.

Erik Bredfeldt, Gainesville’s economic development and innovation director, said he could not comment on either the identity of the buyer or how the sale might impact the Gainesville community.

The Airport Industrial property represents an economic partnership between the city and the airport. So the city will collect tax revenue from the property, but the revenue from the sale will go straight to the airport.

However, because the city has underlying ownership of the land, city commissioners will need to approve the sale as well.

“We’ll use that money to improve our facilities,” said Allen Penksa, Gainesville Regional Airport’s chief executive officer. “We have aspirations of building a parking garage and multi-modal facility for buses, for taxis, for perhaps TNCs (transport network companies) like Uber and Lyft.”

Bredfeldt said GACRAA has already sent a draft of the sale contract to the Regional Development Company. He anticipates that the contract will make it to the Gainesville City Commission by late March or early April. If that happens, the city and buyer will have a 150-day due diligence period to review the property before closing the deal. A due diligence period is standard in property deals, Bredfeldt said.

Finalization of the sale will put that land on the city tax roll. The undisclosed business also represents potential employment, said GACRAA board member Jean Calderwood, who initiated the motion to approve the sale.

“It will likely generate other peripheral business around it,” she said. “So it will generate more activity, potentially more jobs, more tax revenue.”

The only glaring issue with the land is the contamination of its underlying groundwater.

The problem dates to the 1950s when the Sperry Rand Corp. operated on property just north of the lot. The corporation manufactured pneumatic devices and sprayed cleanser on devices to sterilize them. The cleanser ran into the groundwater. The plume then moved into the industrial park lot.

Bredfeldt said the effort to clean up the groundwater has been going on for about 10 years. The contamination was discovered at the Airport Industrial Park in 2007 at the Gainesville Job Corps Center.

“It’s just a matter that they inject a particular solution into the groundwater to try and cleanse it, break up that material,” he said.

Bredfeldt said the contamination is nearing the state of natural attenuation, which means that nature could clear the remaining contamination on its own. He anticipates the cleanup is a year or two from that point.

The city agreed to indemnify the buyer for the pre-existing conditions of the lot’s environment, which includes this contamination.

The cleanup is being paid for by Unisys. Sperry Rand was bought-out by the Burroughs Corporation in 1986, and they merged to form Unisys. The cleanup responsibility will remain with Unisys after the property is sold.

About Mark Stine

Mark is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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