Air National Guard site at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport to be demolished

Some of the oldest buildings at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport will soon go away as the brick structures that housed the Tennessee Air National Guard's former facility are slated for demolition.

But, airport officials are hopeful of landing another expansion by air maintenance company West Star Aviation for the 13-acre site.

For more than 50 years the National Guard unit had called the buildings located off the main airport runway its home. In 2010, the members of the 241st Engineering Installation Squadron left for a new facility off Bonny Oaks Drive.

The Airport Authority has approved a $468,000 demolition contract with Carrollton, Georgia-based Complete Demolition Services.

John Naylor, the airport's vice president of planning and development, said the company also will take down a nearby vacant fire station.

He said the military already did an environmental assessment of the site and removed all hazardous material except for one location.

The site will be elevated because it sits in the flood plain and utilities relocated to make it ready for development within a year or 18 months, Naylor said.

Terry Hart, the airport's chief executive, said there have been initial conversations with West Star about potential use of the National Guard land.

Hart said West Star currently is finishing up two new hangars on property adjacent to the Guard site in an expansion.

He said West Star wants to get up to 300 or more jobs at the airport.

"I think that [Guard] space will fit their plans moving forward," Hart said.

West Star spokeswoman Debi Cunningham said earlier this year that the company doesn't have an expansion plan for the Guard property. But if it's available and there's a need for another expansion, the site could be a fit, she said.

West Star now is operating from one existing hangar on the opposite side of the main runway. It's also building two more hangars near the Guard site in a $20 million expansion project that started last year. It expects to have up to 140 people employed at the airport by about year's end.

The airport has received a $4 million state grant to redevelop the vacant Guard property.

Hart said West Star, which came to airport in 2015, eventually wants to ramp up its Chattanooga operation to the size of a pair of similar facilities in Illinois and Colorado.

The company employs 380 people in Grand Junction, Colo., and 300 in East Alton, Ill., Cunningham said.

Grant Little