GARY — B. Coleman Aviation, one of Gary/Chicago International Airport's two fixed-base operators, has opened a new 40,000 square-foot hangar meant to take advantage of growing Chicago area business.

The $5 million project expands B. Coleman's footprint at the airport to about 95,000 square feet, adding to the company's existing hangar and headquarters. Fixed-base operators offer aircraft storage and maintenance services as well as hospitality and meeting facilities to general aviation clients. 

"The hangar was built to meet the growing demand in the region for business aviation services, particularly as the hangar options continue to dwindle at nearby Midway airport," B. Coleman President John Girzadas said.

B. Coleman officials also note Gary's longer runway — about 8,900 feet, as compared to Midway's longest runway of just over 6,500 feet — as a draw.

And, they tout fewer delays as an advantage to business travelers, as well as the planned U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility expected to open next year. That will allow international flights to arrive directly at Gary.

The new hangar was completed in November. It has a 28-foot door height and can accommodate four large-cabin airplanes and eight mid- to small-sized aircraft. The apron outside the hangar provides additional aircraft storage space.

Tenants include long-term and "transient" customers. 

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority approved a 30-year lease agreement in 2016 for the land B. Coleman occupies. That lease includes an additional 10 acres that could be used for up to four more hangars. The company also has the ability to lease the land in a "build to suit" arrangement with private aircraft owners or corporations.

B. Coleman is one of two fixed-base operators at the Gary airport. The other, Gary Jet Center, has operated at the airport for 25 years and has more than 110,000 square feet of hangar space. It opened a new corporate flight center in October and has built two new hangars in recent years.

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Transportation reporter

Andrew covers transportation, real estate, casinos and other topics for The Times business section. A Crown Point native, he joined The Times in 2014, and has more than 15 years experience as a reporter and editor at Region newspapers.