The new airport in the Lollie Bottoms is now scheduled for a September 1 opening. It had been tentatively scheduled to open around mid-August, but rain delayed construction.
Work continues to flesh out the interior of the terminal building, but the apron and taxiways are mostly finished. It’s hoped that Conway Corp will be ready to turn on the electricity at the airport by the end of next week.
The airport was planned to have seven corporate hangars, where business jets and larger propeller-driven aircraft will be stored, but so far only two earnest money agreements have come to firm contracts and construction plans, airport manager Josh Zylks said on Wednesday. The material that will be the start of the T-hangars, which will hold 36 small general aviation aircraft, is on the ground at the airport site, and Zylks has the go-ahead to start working with MM Satterfield Aviation Fuel on a fuel vendor agreement. There will also be covered aircraft parking.
The new airport is being built using 90 percent federal money. The remainder is split between state money and local money generated by the sale of the current airport property. By federal law, money from the sale of the current airport land must be invested into the new airport.
The property at the existing airport, it is planned, will be sold to developer Jim Wilson and Associates for the Central Landing shopping center, but this contract calls for the city to pay for about $18 million in street projects, which in turn depends on the city’s voters approving a bond rededication in September.
"This is critical for us," Mayor Tab Townsell said.. To market the property we knew we had to put roads through it and make it more viable, otherwise it was going to bring in a bottom-dollar amount, and also in recognition of the master street plan and having more connectivity in Conway to the interstate and across the interstate."
Plans for a new I-40 overpass pre-exist the offer from Wilson and Associates, and these roads would be built through and around the vacant airport property regardless of the Central Landing development, Townsell said, albeit at a much slower pace, "but if we get a positive vote on the bond issue, we can build these roads on a timetable that will also get the shopping center."