Airport authority gets contract to buy former Delmar Haynes dealership property

The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority has a contract to buy the former Delmar Haynes auto dealership property on Alcoa Highway for more than $5 million and intends to raze the dealership buildings, which sit at the edge of a McGhee Tyson Airport runway.

“The plan is to demolish the building and make the property a green space,” said Mike Bachman, vice president of finance and administration for the Airport Authority.

The deal hinges on whether the Airport Authority, which operates McGhee Tyson and Downtown Island Homes airports, can secure a federal grant that would pay for most of the project, Bachman said. When it meets Wednesday, the Airport Authority’s board of commissioners will vote on a proposal to apply for the grant.

If the Airport Authority is able to proceed, it will remove the last traces of a car dealership that had been in the Haynes family for about 45 years. In May, Chrysler notified 789 dealerships across the country that their franchises would be ended, including Delmar Haynes Jeep Eagle. The dealership already had lost its centerpiece Pontiac franchise when GM announced it would discontinue that brand. The Delmar Haynes dealership continued with the GMC brand for a while, but closed in July. Robin Haynes, a Delmar Haynes owner, declined to comment Monday on the Airport Authority deal.

Bachman said the Airport Authority has a 180-day contract with the property owners to buy the land at 2939 Alcoa Highway. The Airport Authority has agreed to pay $5.5 million for the land, or about $665,000 an acre, and is seeking a $6,117,570 grant through the federal Airport Improvement Program to fund the purchase plus pay for demolition, landscaping, fencing, administration and other costs to finish the project, said Airport Authority spokeswoman Becky Huckaby.

If approved, the grant would cover 95 percent of the total amount requested, leaving the Airport Authority to fund about $300,000 through its own sources, Huckaby said.

Purchase of the 8.27-acre former dealership will allow the Airport Authority to improve the safety of McGhee Tyson Airport, Huckaby said. The dealership is at the northeast boundary of the 2,000 acres covered by the airport. When the dealership still was operating, the Airport Authority worked with its owners to limit the effect of lighting from the auto lot on airport operations, Huckaby said.

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