The Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport board of directors approved a bid submitted by Crabtree Holdings, LLC to redevelop three parcels of land owned by the airport.

The airport board used a point system to choose the contractor they felt would best utilize the property, located at 2516 KY 81, for economic development. 

Crabtree Holdings beat out Gulfstream Commercial Services — the only other bidder — for the property. 

The decision to approve Crabtree for the bid was based on the scoring system implemented by the board for this bidding process. The board gave the development company 90 points compared to Gulfstream’s 10. 

According to board members, the biggest reason for Gulfstream’s low score stemmed from vague wording submitted by the company in response to questions on the bid application. 

The four categories being scored included price (60 points), number of jobs created (15 points), average gross wage of jobs created (15 points) and schedule of development (10 points). 

According to officials, Gulfstream’s only points earned (10) were given for the schedule of development category. 

“They did meet the requirements for Section 4, but the others — they were too vague to give them any points based on the scoring criteria,” said airport director Tristan Durbin. 

According to Durbin, Crabtree bid $377,000 for the property while Gulfstream didn’t list a specific price. Durbin said the company said they would bid more at or more than $377,000. 

As for the number of jobs created, Crabtree Holdings said its redevelopment project would create 110 jobs over the next 10 years. Durbin said Gulfstream said its project would provide over 50 jobs in support of aviation operations. 

“They were almost non-responsive,” Durbin added. “They just said up to, or more than, 50.” 

When asked what the hourly wage for those jobs would be, Crabtree Holdings said it would provide jobs that provided a wage of $18 per hour by the time the certificate of occupancy was issued. 

Gulfstream said it had created or maintained jobs that exceeded $24 an hour. 

However, Gulfstream did score better than Crabtree Holdings when it came down to the schedule of development, saying its proposed development could take 90 days to complete. The company was awarded 10 points for its answer, while Crabtree was only given one-sixth of a point. 

Durbin said he hadn’t been given the specifics as to what either company planned to do with the property, which contains roughly 10.7 acres. However, he did say Crabtree had expressed a desire to expand infrastructure for Cabinotch Incorporated, and that the jobs created would primarily be in the manufacturing industry. 

“The airport board wanted to make sure the buyer of this land would create an economic development opportunity for the community,” Durbin noted. “It’s our duty to make sure we help the community grow. We based the scoring criteria on what we deemed most important.” 

Though some board members expressed concern that approving the bid for Crabtree without contacting Gulfstream first could create “bad blood,” other board members said that, most times, negotiations regarding bid proposals took place prior to the bid being awarded. 

“We have a scoring criteria for a reason, and it’s not close at this point,” said board member Antoine Smith-Rouse. 

Others said they hoped there would be more opportunities for the airport board to partner with Gulfstream in the future. 

According to Durbin, the Federal Aviation Administration will have to approve the contract before Crabtree breaks ground. 

Published on May 20, 2021