Solano County

ICON to buy land near Nut Tree Airport

By From page A1 | October 23, 2013

FAIRFIELD — ICON Aircraft on Tuesday moved to buy 14 acres of vacant property near Nut Tree Airport for $2.1 million.

Solano County owns the land, considers it surplus and on Aug. 6 announced it would accept bids. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday conducted a public hearing to look at the bids received.

No one submitted a written bid. But Chris King, chief finance officer for ICON, stood up during the board’s request for oral bids and offered the amount that the county had set as a minimum. The Board of Supervisors voted to accept the bid.

Vacaville has been wooing ICON for months. But, even with Tuesday’s land deal, the light aircraft manufacturer has yet to announce it is coming to the city.

“California, Texas and Arizona are the final locations,” ICON spokeswoman Amy Julian said after the meeting. “Vacaville is our top contender. We’re hoping to reach a final decision pretty soon. That depends on the outcome of sensitive discussions with Solano County.”

She didn’t elaborate. But Solano County owns Nut Tree Airport, which would play a role in ICON’s operations.

Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy is waiting for the day that ICON announces it will come to Vacaville.

“I hope it’s one more big step to finish it off,” Hardy said by phone after the Board of Supervisors meeting. “It’s going to be a great catch for us, if we can get it.”

Vacaville City Manager Laura Kuhn by phone after the meeting said she didn’t know beforehand that ICON would bid on the county land, but that she’s not surprised. ICON would lease space initially and has been working to secure property in the area for its build-out.

Supervisor Skip Thomson cast the lone vote against having the county accept the $2.1 million bid. County staff set this minimum amount after studying the marketplace, but didn’t have the property appraised.

“How am I to know the minimum bid is really in the ballpark?” Thomson said.

Supervisor Jim Spering had a different view.

“This is an opportunity to get the property developed,” Spering said. “It adds more value to the airport.”

ICON Aircraft Chief Executive Officer Kirk Hawkins at the July 9 Vacaville City Council meeting explained his company’s vision.

It is relocating from Southern California. It will have a manufacturing plant for the ICON A5, a two-seat, amphibious landing aircraft with fold-up wings, a speed of 120 mph and range of 300 miles.

In addition, ICON would have its corporate headquarters and a flight training center. Hawkins said ICON would build a “globally recognized aviation ecosystem.”

Also Tuesday, the county accepted bids for the vacant, former Vallejo veterans building at 444 Alabama St. Edward Boydston had the winning bid at $320,000. Four people bid and the winning bid far exceeded the $25,000 minimum set by the county.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

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