The third appraisal done on the St. Clair Regional Airport contains language that states the local facility “does not appear to conform” to attributes within a nationwide aviation system.
The appraisal, required by the Federal Aviation Administration as part of the city’s process in requesting to close the airport, was done by the Lauer Appraisal Co. out of St. Louis. The document was done “in accordance with Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and FAA requirements,” wording under the scope of the appraisal reads.
When Mayor Ron Blum met with FAA officials in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, having a third appraisal to determine the highest and best use of the facility and to place an estimated value on the 80-acre tract of land was the first of four points the federal agency noted that the city must accomplish in order to close it.
The city wants to close the facility to make room for retail development and needs the approval of the FAA because the city used federal grants as late as 2006 to make improvements at the site.
The airport is located on the north side of St. Clair between Interstate 44 and Highway 47 and has been on the city’s radar for closure since Blum took office about five years ago.
The appraisal, received by the city earlier this month, came in at $520,000 and stated the highest and best use of the land was for commercial redevelopment.
“The St. Clair Regional Airport does not appear to conform with the attributes of a national airport system as described ... by the American Association of Airport Executives,” the appraisal reads in its general aviation airport overview.
That statement follows a phrase referring to QED Airport and Aviation Consultants’ report on the facility done last year focusing on the rationale in closing the airport. Appraisal wordage states that the appraisers cannot offer an opinion concerning the validity of the conclusions of the QED report.
The appraisal overview lists seven attributes that the American Association of Airport Executives regards as the overall guiding principle to create a national airport system.
The points are that the facility should:
•Be safe and efficient, located at optimum sites and developed and maintained to appropriate standards;
•Provide convenient air transportation access to as many people as possible;
•Be affordable to both users and government, relying primarily on user fees, placing minimal burden on the general revenues of local, state and federal government;
•Be flexible and expandable, able to accommodate increased demand and new aircraft types;
•Be permanent with assurance that they will remain open for aeronautical use over the long term;
•Be compatible with surrounding communities, maintaining a balance between the needs of aviation and the requirements of neighboring areas;
•Help air transportation contribute to a productive and national economy.
It is that listing of points that the airport does not conform to, the appraisal states.
Before the city sent out bid proposal requests for the appraisal and accepted Lauer’s, local officials worked with the FAA on the language needed to make sure the federal agency was satisfied with what the city was seeking and that it follows specific specifications.
Terminology centered on the appraisal being performed to determine the “highest and best use of the land” and to estimate its value.
City Administrator Rick Childers told The Missourian at that time that the FAA “provided us with very specific and detailed requirements for the appraisal to help get a clear idea of the value of the land at its ‘highest and best use.’”
The city followed those recommendations and received FAA approval on the language before appraisers were sought.
Childers told The Missourian last week that the city has not heard a response from the FAA regarding the third appraisal.
The Lauer appraisal stated that the scope of analysis included but was not limited to a physical inspection of the property, an analysis of all pertinent and economic data, an exterior physical inspection of all sales used within the report, interviews with property managers and real estate brokers, requests for public information made to the local city offices, a full narrative appraisal report prepared in accordance with guidelines set forth by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, an appraisal that exceeds the minimum standards of professional practice as regulated by the appraisal institute and Missouri Appraisal License Law, an appraisal which complies with the city of St. Clair’s “scope of work” and an appraisal which complies with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions.
Having another appraisal of the 80-acre parcel of land the airport sits on was discussed as the top priority when Mayor Ron Blum met with several FAA officials in late March in Washington, D.C., regarding the city’s process to close the facility.
The FAA’s other three points were the city providing a more complete explanation of what the net benefit to aviation will be by closing the airport, providing a history of the facility itself and noting why it has been lagging financially compared to other area airports, and showing why the city has not had the financial resources to fund the airport.
The city previously had two appraisals done on the property, and they were included in the 200-page QED closure document sent to state and federal officials last year. But the FAA mandated the third one to make sure it includes the highest and best use of the land.
The other two appraisals came back at $948,500 and $420,000.