Gary Jet Center managing partner Lynn Eplawy stands outside a hangar near the Gary/Chicago International Airport where the company plans to construct a $2 million welcome center and terminal for its operations.
The Gary Jet Center has won approval from the city to construct a $2 million welcome center and terminal outside of its West hangar at the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
The Plan Commission approved the site plan Tuesday.
A family-owned company founded by Wil Davis, the Gary Jet Center provides fuel and customer services to a variety of corporate and general aircraft. The Jet Center also handles cargo handling and freight operations.
Lynn Eplawy, Jet Center managing partner, said the Jet Center has outgrown its present operations. The Jet Center, at 5401 Industrial Highway, now has four hangars at the airport.
LEE Companies, of Gary, will build the new terminal. Patrick M. Lee said construction could take about one year. Eplawy said the new terminal will have offices, a passenger waiting area, a pilot lounge and a gym and showers, also for pilots.
The construction timetable is complicated by a federal lawsuit the Jet Center filed against the airport authority and its private operator, AvPorts Management.
The Jet Center is seeking a permanent injunction against the airport authority's attempts to levy a 1.5 percent fee on tenants' gross revenues at the airport. The Jet Center contends the new fee violates its 2007 lease. In January, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit and it's been appealed to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Davis has accused AvPorts of assessing the fee to make up for its own lack of development success at the airport.
Meanwhile, the Jet Center is focusing on its expansion.
"Our business has grown because we've continued to tell the story of the airport," Eplawy said. "We are competing for corporate jets with Midway."
Davis, Jet Center president and CEO, bought the Jet Center in 1991. It had one hangar for charters and maintenance and the small terminal. Since then, it's added three hangars. It's grown from 10 to 57 employees.
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