Building ConceptDecember 2014 – Andrea Goodell, Holland Sentinel   A welcome center in the works for years could be built this year at the West Michigan Regional Airport.

“We went through a pretty extensive visioning process with the building committee and the rest of the team,” said Thom Dunckaert with design firm Progressive AE, who presented the firms preliminary design to the West Michigan Airport Authority Monday.

Designers wanted the building to be highly visible both from the airport apron and from the parking lot, so visitors are sure where to go. The 8,500-square-foot building will be half public space and half offices, mostly taken up by the airport’s fixed base operation.

The FBO has long occupied a 2,000-square-foot trailer near the airport entrance.

“These are concepts. The materials, all those kinds of things are yet to be discussed,” West Michigan Airport Authority Manager Greg Robinson stressed.

The size has been reduced from past conversations that included an 11,000-square-foot structure. Meanwhile, the apron might also be reduced in size, depending on funding.

“This is not an FBO facility,” Robinson said. “When we look at this, this is more than the FBO.”

The public space would include a conference room, pilots’ lounge, public restrooms, flight planning room and welcome area. A long window along the airport side of the building will allow visitors to watch planes take off and land.

Geurink Avenue that runs alongside the airport will be extended with the new business center at the end of that cul de sac.

The authority also accepted a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation to buy 15.4 acres from Johnson Controls Inc., where the new Airport Business Center would be located.

The MDOT grant would pay for 95 percent of the $520,000 purchase price, leaving $52,000 for the local share.

The final building plans are expected to be ready by March and bids requested this spring with construction starting in mid- to late-summer.

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