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WWI Airplane Hangar to Be Renovated for Recreation by National Parks

By Nicholas Rizzi | April 15, 2016 3:12pm | Updated on April 18, 2016 8:46am
 The NPS will seek out a new lessee to take over Hangar 38 at Midland Beach.
Staten Island Hangar 38
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MIDLAND BEACH — A World War I airplane hangar severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy could open its doors again as the National Park Service plans to seek a group to renovate the space.

The agency will seek a new lessee to take over and renovate Hangar 38 at Miller Field for recreational purposes, Borough President James Oddo said.

"Given the resources available — not much are — we have a certain universe of possibilities with this property, and I am happy to see creativity and a willingness to involve the private sector on the part of the NPS," Oddo said in a statement.

"It is exciting to know that Staten Islanders will again derive some benefit from the historic structure in the future."

Brian Feeney, Staten Island unit coordinator for Gateway National Park, said the group first needs to do a $6.2 million partial deconstruction on the site before they put an official RFP out. Feeney expects construction to start next year to stripe the building down to it's steel frame and it will be funded by federal Sandy aid.

"The hangar is nearly 100 years old, time has certainly taken its toll, then Hurricane Sandy has taken care of the rest," said Feeney. "You strip the whole building down to its steel frame and its skeleton and what we will have is a very large shade structure."

Hangar 38 was built in 1920 by the Army for use as an aerial coast defense and it one of the last ones in the eastern seaboard, according to NPS.

The hangar was renovated in 1939 in a federal Works Progress Administration project but was mostly used for NPS storage since it was acquired by NPS in 1972. However, Sandy severely destroyed the structure and it hasn't been used since, Feeney said.

Ed Polio, owner of 5050 Skatepark, said he previously tried to put a skatepark at the site years ago and developed a proposal this year to move the Stapleton spot to the hangar and add a war museum, live music stage, screen printing studio and more.

"We see these hangars and were like, 'wow we can do the same thing there, they’re not utilizing the property'," Polio said. "We're looking for the next space where we could grow and expand, and we definitely need a bigger space."

He said his pitch got positive feedback online from the community and he envisions it will become a space where children can skate and learn about the history of the wars.

"We figured along the walls inside the skatepark, instead of doing graffiti, we would do all museum stuff," he said. "I just envision parents dropping their kids off and seeing all of this cool history."

Aside from the structural work, Polio estimated it would only cost them about $300,000 to get the new space up and running because the majority of the ramps are already built and just need to be resurfaced.

Feeney said the group originally looked at refurbishing the hangar, but the estimated $45 million to do so was too high, and also fully demolishing the site for $6.7 million.

He said the partial deconstruction plan keeps the historic structure, the very first hangar of its kind and the only one left remaining on the East Coast, while opening up for recreation.

"We're preserving the military history of the site and we're creating new recreation options for the site, so it's a win-win all around," Feeney said.

In February, NPS released an RFP to lease the hangar inside the park but canceled the request eight days later. Feeney said he didn't know why the RFP went out, as the agency can't seek bids for the site until the partial deconstruction is completed.

In the documents released during the first request for proposals process, NPS wrote that the approximately 49,000 square-foot-hangar would need to be partially demolished but the usable area under the steel frame and roof would total about 35,000 square-feet.


The proposed uses in the canceled RFP had included basketball courts, tennis courts and a roller rink with a food court.