Bankruptcy proceedings hinder effort to market hangar

Friday, February 8, 2013
This file photo shows Commander Premier Aircraft Corp.'s operation in the 52,000-square-foot municipally-owned hangar at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport on Sept. 26, 2011. (Fred Lynch)

Sixteen months after its eviction from Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Commander Premier Aircraft Corp. is still on the premises while tied up in bankruptcy court, blocking efforts to market the property to new tenants.

John Mehner, president of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, which began providing regional economic development services though a contract with Magnet in December, said the organization has not been able to directly market the 52,000-square-foot hangar because it is not yet available.

At least two companies have shown interest in the property, which is listed with the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the Missouri Partnership, Mehner said. Responses to them had to note uncertainty about the date the space would be purchasable.

"I do think it is a very marketable building," Mehner said.

Commander still has equipment in the hangar pending the results of bankruptcy proceedings.

Cape Girardeau city manager Scott Meyer said there have been several potential buyers and the city provides access and information to them, but that is the limit of what the city can do.

"The court is in control of this process," Meyer said by email Thursday.

Meyer said the Texas bankruptcy court handling the matter is trying to find buyers for the company.

"If they can get interested parties that are willing to 'bid' on the assets, then they can get the best price. If they are unable to get a bidder for the company, then they will most likely hold an auction for its 'parts'," Meyer said.

Once a buyer is secured, the court will set a time frame to vacate or rent the space, he said. Creditors will receive proceeds based on the court's order, and there is no time limit by which the court has to act.

"We have told the court we want them to move forward," Meyer said.

In 2001, the city sold $2.6 million in bonds to construct the hangar and pay for extension of water and sewer lines to it. Renaissance Aircraft took up residence in 2004 and contracted to pay off the bonds. However, the company folded, leaving the city with the debt. An aggressive campaign to find another manufacturer resulted in a contract with Commander Premier in 2005.

Commander Premier planned to manufacture single-engine planes that would sell for $600,000 apiece. Expected to employ up to 100 people within three years, by December 2007 they stopped making payments on the hanger and never manufactured a single plane.

The city used $1.69 million from the purchase of property by Isle Casino Cape Girardeau to pay off the bonds in 2011. The tax-exempt bonds limited the use of the building to airport-related manufacturing and paying them off freed the city to use it for other aviation purposes.

Jason Searcy, attorney for Commander Premier did not return a phone message left Thursday. Phone numbers associated with the company are disconnected and emailed messages Thursday were not answered.

salderman@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau, MO

Tyler, TX

Map of pertinent addresses

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