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LIMESTONE – Reuse officials at the Loring Commerce Centre have a chance to attract a major aircraft maintenance company that could create up to 350 jobs.
However, the commerce center also needs $3 million to get a 145,000-square-foot building – referred to as the arch hangar because of its arched roof – ready for consideration, according to Brian Hamel, president of the Loring Development Authority of Maine.
“You have to be able to react quickly when prospects come,” Hamel said Tuesday.
The company has not been mentioned before in any reports regarding aviation reuse at the former base and Hamel declined to name the prospect.
Reuse officials are anxious to find a purpose for the vast aviation complex at the former air force base, one of the largest on the East Coast.
The years of idleness apparently have not been kind to the cavernous hangar, a familiar silhouette on the Loring landscape, since the base closed in 1994.
Among the list of required repairs is the concrete roof, which needs $1 million in restorations. The building, which was once heated by the base’s centralized steam plant, also needs it’s own heating source.
According to Hamel, a major aviation maintenance company has indicated that it will be looking for space in April. Without the repairs, Loring may not even be considered as a potential site, he said.
“We have no choice but to find the money … to get that done,” Hamel said during a briefing late last week.
LDA officials have been having some “creative” discussions with the Air Force about funding. In addition, other sources of money are being courted, including other federal and state sources and commercial banks.
Hamel said that the reuse agency started talks with the aviation company four years ago about possibly setting up shop at Loring.
To alleviate the heating problem, Hamel said that a new boiler system installed in the former wing headquarters building can be moved into the hangar.
Work has already started on the roof to stop leaking, according to Hamel.
Although not as pressing, another huge hangar – referred to as the DC hangar – also is in need of about $5 million in repairs.
Paving around both hangars needs to be completed to the tune of about $8 million. It’s unclear where the funding for those projects will come from.
Although Hamel said last week that he has received one call regarding the DC hangar, there has been no serious interest expressed in the flat-roofed structure, located along the 12,100-foot runway.