Passenger terminal could bring flights to Paine Field in 2017

EVERETT — The New York company working to develop a commercial passenger terminal at Paine Field hopes to break ground by the end of this year, with the first flights as soon as late 2017.

Propeller Airports announced Wednesday that it had hired an architectural firm with extensive experience with airport projects to design a two-gate terminal. CEO Brett Smith promised a “modern and sustainable structure that reflects the history of aviation in Everett.” Styling would evoke the Pacific Northwest.

“We’re trying to create a different experience than most people see at airports,” Smith said. “It’s all about quality and service.”

The terminal designer, Denver-based Fentress Architects, worked on Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s Central Terminal, Denver International Airport and Incheon International Airport in South Korea. The Paine Field project, however, would be limited to fewer than two-dozen combined takeoffs and landings per day.

Plans call for about 29,000 square feet of terminal space, next to the airport’s control tower.

The vision includes a “state-of-the-art passenger lounge” and valet parking.

Propeller touts the future terminal as a convenient way for residents of Washington’s second-fastest-growing county to avoid Seattle traffic gridlock on the way south to Sea-Tac Airport.

Conceptual drawings of the terminal show a lounge with a fireplace, wooden beams and lots of windows.

Propeller last year reached an option-to-lease agreement with Snohomish County, which owns Paine Field.

The company has up to three years to design the terminal and perform environmental studies. Just under two years remain to get that work done.

The company has not yet applied for a county building permit but expects to file an application soon to comply with the state Environmental Policy Act.

If the plans are approved, the company could sign a 30-year lease with Snohomish County for 10.7 acres of airport land on which to build a terminal and parking lot.

The company also can exercise two optional 10-year contract extensions, for a total commitment of up to 50 years.

Under the lease, Propeller would pay the county about $429,000 per year in rent. The county would receive a cut of revenue from air-service operations and parking.

Propeller has not disclosed which airlines or destinations it has in mind for the terminal.

“There’s interest from a number of carriers,” Smith said. “Clearly, we wouldn’t build this unless we were comfortable that we had an airline.”

A press release included comments from Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson: “Bringing a terminal of this quality to our community as a public-private partnership saves precious taxpayer dollars and brings considerable economic benefits; this is (a) win for residents and businesses in Everett and Snohomish County.”

The city of Mukilteo, the Save Our Communities neighborhood group and other opponents have vowed to keep up their fight to minimize the effect of commercial passenger flights on surrounding areas.

They lost a major legal battle in March when a federal appeals court denied a challenge to an environmental study overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration. That case focused on the effects of up to 22 takeoffs and landings per day. Opponents could challenge any proposals that would exceed that number.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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