June 04, 2020
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Growing aviation company is pursuing 2 different expansions in Bangor

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
A C&L Aerospace employee works to remove tape on a plane in its aircraft painting facility in Bangor in this 2014 file photo.

A growing aviation servicing company based at Bangor International Airport is moving ahead with two different expansions on land that either currently belongs to the city or recently did.

Last week, C&L Aviation closed a deal to buy 4 acres of municipal property at 395 Griffin Road with a condition that it create at least 25 new jobs within two years or pay a penalty to the city, according to Tanya Emery, Bangor’s community and economic development director. C&L Aviation has also purchased the private building on that property that once was the Spectacular Event Center.

And on Tuesday, Bangor’s planning board approved a proposal by the airport to build two new structures that would be leased by C&L Aviation. One of them would be a new 12,000-square-foot building that C&L Aviation would use for the maintenance of aircraft interiors, while the other would be a 5,000-square-foot addition to one of the four hangars that it already leases.

If city and federal officials greenlight the project, the company would be required to reimburse the airport’s share of the construction costs — $1.2 million — in the form of higher rent payments, according to Bangor International Airport Director Tony Caruso.

The expansion would also be funded by a matching $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Now that the project has received a permit from the Bangor Planning Board, it needs to go back to the federal agency for final approval, according to Caruso. If it receives that approval, the City Council would then have to award it to a bidder.

Caruso estimated the project could start in the spring.

C&L Aviation CEO Chris Kilgour did not respond to requests for comment. A decade ago, his company which services, refurbishes and markets aircraft relocated from Australia to Bangor. Since then, it has grown from 20 to nearly 200 employees, Kilgour said in 2018.

Caruso said that the new 12,000-square-foot maintenance space at Bangor International Airport would include an upholstery shop, a precision cabinetry shop and a high-gloss paint booth.

After undergoing two previous expansions, the company has been seeking additional space in the Queen City for a while. In 2018, Kilgour told city officials it was “bursting at the seams” of its facility in the airport and that an expansion could bring in another 50 to 75 jobs. In 2017, the company also said it was having difficulty recruiting mechanics and would have to expand outside of Bangor if a program to train aircraft mechanics didn’t open nearby, but that proposal never went forward.

It’s unclear what the company has planned for the 4 acres that it just acquired on Griffin Road. The Bangor City Council previously approved the sale of that land to C&L Aviation last summer for $265,000, which was its fair-market value according to a 2018 appraisal.

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the purchase of the land. Besides requiring C&L Aviation to create 25 jobs within two years, the terms of the sale also qualify the company to receive a 75 percent tax rebate on any expansions it makes within two years. It would then be eligible to receive that rebate for five years.

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