It was announced last summer as the deal of a century. A 99-year lease between the Reese Technology Center and an Austin based company called Riata, which specializes in refurbishing and repairing small jets.
Riata was going to take over all three runways, 39 buildings and five hangars at the old Air Force base. So, whatever happened to Riata?
Riata is still a reality at Reese. In fact, the City of Lubbock and Riata plan to seal the deal two months from now on March 22nd. It's a deal that will make Reese the first closed Air Force base in America to reach a 100% occupancy rate after shutting down.
If there were a pioneer in Air Force base redevelopment, Reese would be the example. "We knew we had a major asset in Reese, I guess the thing you never know is who it fits," says Lubbock Reese Redevelopment Authority Chairman Delbert McDougal.
It may look barren, rundown and useless to some, but to Austin based Riata sees Reese as lush, exciting and full of promise. The company plans to open a state-of-the-art small jet service center here. A proposition that requires the use of 39 buildings, five hangars and all three runways, breathing new life into tons of concrete that hasn't been used for what it was supposed to be used for since the base closed in September '99.
Riata will initially bring 150 new jobs to Lubbock, with spectacular short term potential for many more. "It's going to really blossom into a major facility and could bring over a three year time frame up to 800 jobs to Lubbock and that's just a major shot in the arm for Lubbock," says McDougal.
In addition to first-rate infrastructure, Riata also seems to be drawn to Lubbock's location. Jets can be flown in from anywhere within a 1,200 mile radius without having to refuel. That encompasses a majority of the United States.
All of this will reportedly have no effect on Lubbock International Airport. Reese will be strictly an overhaul center for jets, not a transportation airport. "Because we didn't want to do something at Reese at the expense of LIA and we've accomplished that," says McDougal.
Riata's lease spans 99 years. Riata will pay Lubbock $5 million up front and Lubbock will then share in Riata's annual profits. Riata gets total control of the runways, 39 buildings and several hangars. Riata will pay for maintaining those runways and buildings. Look for more news on this deal including job opportunities this coming spring.