“I’m here for the long haul," says Brad Beer, the new owner of Rancho Murieta Airport. "Little by little we’ll bring her back to life.”
Saturday morning, Brad Beer stood on the tarmac at Rancho Murieta Airport. Squinting in the bright sunlight, he took in the parked planes dotting the asphalt, the thousands of feet of runway, a cluster of cavernous hangars and remarked with a grin, “How many people own an airport?”
At that point, he’d been the owner for 10 days.
“I bought it to keep it open. A lot of airports are shutting down,” Beer had said earlier on the phone. He owns a Beechcraft King Air twin-turboprop airplane and has been flying since he was 16.
Negotiations for the sale of the airport took five years, mostly due to the tree issue that shut down the airport’s night operations, he said. In 2008, Sacramento County cut down about 150 trees and trimmed others on county parkland next to the runway to comply with state and federal safety guidelines and resolve the issue.
In addition to the 76-acre airport property he acquired from the estate of businessman Fred Anderson, Beer purchased 33 acres from another Anderson family trust. He described the additional property as “a buffer” for the airport and said he has no interest in a development plan proposed four years ago that includes aviation-related housing on the property. Beer declined to provide the purchase price for the property, saying he’d signed a non-disclosure agreement with the family.
Beer lives in Granite Bay with his wife, Becky. Their son starts college this year and their daughter graduated last year. Beer has a real estate development business that’s “mainly self-storage projects” in the Sacramento area, he said. When asked about plans to develop in Rancho Murieta, he said, “I’m really not interested in developing anything out there,” although a storage project “may be a consideration down the road. But right now I’m just concerned with getting the roof leaks fixed, making everybody happy.”
His immediate plans for the airport include increasing security. In the next few weeks, Beer plans to add fencing and key-pad operated gates to restrict vehicular traffic. Entrances and exits will be locked at night to stop incidents where kids come in and drive on the runways and tarmac, since Beer believes it was only a matter of time before someone had an accident or ran into a plane. There will also be camera surveillance.
At the airport Saturday, Beer pointed out light towers that hadn’t worked for a long time and are now working. The hangars need work and everything will be repainted, he said. “I’m here for the long haul. ... Little by little we’ll bring her back to life.”
Beer said he doesn’t plan to build additional hangars because it’s not cost effective. The infrastructure and improvements are already present, and they’re all “first class.” You couldn’t afford to do it today, he said, explaining that a hangar costs $80,000 to build and won’t rent for more than $350. Rents at the airport have been raised for the first time in 10 years, but the airport is still losing money, Beer said.
Beer, who grew up in Orangevale and Granite Bay, said he came out to Rancho Murieta for the Senior Gold Rush back in the day.
“Part of the attraction ... was actually going out to the airport and looking at all the jets. ... I’d like to see some of that stuff come back locally, not just for Rancho Murieta but Sacramento as well,” he said. He plans to join the Country Club and hopes to work with the club to promote both the club and the airport. “There’s a synergy there,” he said. “I think we can get people to fly in and go golfing. People will buy food and pay dues ... buy golf balls ... all the things that people do when they golf.”
Beer said he is at the airport almost daily. “I just enjoy being out here. ... I’m here to be a good neighbor. ... This has been kind of a fun thing for me because it’s really positive ... and I think this will be very positive for everyone,” he said.
- After years on the market, Rancho Murieta Airport is sold (May 25, 2010)