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Albuquerque serves eviction notice on Eclipse, One Aviation

Kestrel Aircraft Company CEO Alan Klapmeier speaks during a press conference at the Superior airport in 2012 as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, left, and then-Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen listen. (Superior Telegram file photo)

The city of Albuquerque has served an eviction notice to Eclipse Aerospace and One Aviation Corp. claiming the companies owe the city more than $895,000 in rent and other obligations, as well as Local Economic Development Act funding.

Both companies have ties to the Twin Ports through Alan Klapmeier, who co-founded Cirrus Aircraft with his younger brother, Dale, now CEO of the Duluth-based company. After leaving Cirrus, Alan Klapmeier launched a new venture, Kestrel Aircraft, which joined forces with Eclipse to form One Aviation Corp. in 2015.

In 2012, Kestrel received a $4 million loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., a $2.6 million working capital loan from the city of Superior and an additional $500,000 loan from Douglas County to build a manufacturing plant hat was to employ more than 600 people. But the Superior facility and the jobs never materialized. In the aftermath, those entities that were financially involved continue to seek repayment of the troubled company’s outstanding debts.

The businesses’ difficulties have continued, and in an April 26 eviction notice obtained by the Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque City Attorney Esteban Aguilar said the city “has been very patient with Eclipse in the hopes of maintaining a positive relationship,” but he gave the company until May 8 to make good on its overdue rent.

“The City must obtain prompt payment from Eclipse, or require Eclipse to surrender the premises so the City can lease it to a rent-paying tenant,” wrote Aguilar in the notice.

Aguilar declined to comment. Eclipse and One Aviation did not respond to a request for comment.

Nyika Allen, the city’s director of aviation, confirmed to the Journal that Eclipse had neither paid the city nor vacated all its leased properties as of Thursday.

“We are continuing the conversation with them,” she said.

Eclipse is the maker of a twin-engine light jet. Last year, Eclipse confirmed that it had laid off an unspecified number of employees at its Sunport manufacturing facility. Notices filed with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions show that Eclipse terminated 76 employees.

In 2013, the city and state announced Eclipse would receive up to $635,222 in Local Economic Development Act funding from both entities for an expansion that would create 100 new jobs. City officials did not say how much of that funding they are seeking to recoup.

Additional documents obtained by the Journal show the companies responded to the eviction notice with a proposal to pay the city about $162,000 by May 8 and the remaining balance “as we take the company through a restructuring process.”

The city rejected the proposal.

In a May 17 letter, the companies offered to immediately pay about $790,000, vacate the Sunport facilities they currently occupy – hangars and office spaces in the buildings known as Sunport 1, Sunport 2 and Sunport 3 – and move into Sunport 4.

“We have acquired new investors who want to stabilize our core business,” said One Aviation board Chairman Mike Wyse in the letter. “Our goal is to remain at the Albuquerque International Sunport and be a long-term partner with the city.”

It was unclear whether the city has responded to the letter, which also states that the new investors wish to restart production of Eclipse’s twin-engine jet known as the EA550, as well as develop new models.

New Mexico is considering $250,000 in economic development incentives for CSI Aviation to renovate Sunport 1, Eclipse’s former headquarters. Allen said the proposal involves renovating part of the building. The other part of the building is still technically occupied by Eclipse.

Peter Passi of the News Tribune contributed to this report.