published Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Hardwick Field property auctions approved

The former Cleveland (Tenn) airport is grown up with grass and basically abandoned in this view looking southwest from the old terminal building.
The former Cleveland (Tenn) airport is grown up with grass and basically abandoned in this view looking southwest from the old terminal building.
Photo by Tim Barber.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The auction contracts for 62.54 acres of land that previously served as Hardwick Field, Cleveland's oldest airport, have been approved by the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority.

On Friday, the airport panel voted 4-0 to accept the $1 million in bids placed on the property during a June 5 auction. The property was estimated to be worth $1.785 million.

Lynn DeVault, who serves as the panel's secretary-treasurer, abstained from the vote. DeVault is employed by Allan Jones, CEO and founder of payday lending company Check Into Cash, who successfully bid on most of the property.

"After long, hard thinking and talking to people, we're not going to do any better in my opinion," said Verill Norwood, vice chairman of the airport panel, in regard to the bids received on the old airfield property.

While city officials have expressed disappointment about the amount of money the auction generated, airport authority members have said that the acreage price was good when compared to other recent land sales within Bradley County.

Out of 14 comparable property sales, the Hardwick Field auction came in third place at $16,581 per acre, said Lou Patten, chairman of the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority. The top price received in that comparison was $19,452 per acre, he said.

Jones bid $750,000 -- half the $1.498 million asking price -- on the largest piece of property, a 57.34-acre parcel that includes the facility's maintenance hangar and runway.

He was the sole bidder on the parcel, which adjoins his residential property, located on a nearby ridge.

"I plan to use it for my muscle car collection," Jones said at the conclusion of the auction.

The remaining property, which was divided into five small parcels, received bids from Joe Stamper, Robbie Garrison, Charles Jabaley and Jones. Some of the purchasers owned private hangars located on those parcels.

Auction proceeds will go toward reimbursing the city for its $6 million investment in the new Cleveland Regional Jetport, city manager Janice Casteel said.

The city provided $6 million in local matching funds for government grants received in association with the construction of the jetport, she said.

Norwood said the sale of the former Hardwick Field property is subject to land release approval by the Federal Aviation Administration. A letter granting that approval is expected by early July.

Property purchases will be finalized within 30 days of receiving the FAA approval, airport authority officials said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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