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Galt Airport still flying high

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(H. Rick Bamman (Photographer))
Northwest Herald file photo Galt Airport, looking west to Greenwood Road.

GREENWOOD – When Galt Airport hits the auction block later this month, it’s not the flying operation that will be taking off. It’s the landowner.

Justin Cleland, airport manager and co-owner of JB Aviation Management, said the foreclosure sale approved by McHenry County Circuit Court only affects the land the 61-year-old airport occupies.

“That’s the one thing that has been a bit frustrating through all this,” Cleland said. “Galt Airport is not in foreclosure, it’s the land that the airport sits on that is in foreclosure. It’s been a tough battle to fight – the perception that the airport is going out of business – when in fact the airport is doing just fine. ... We’re doing better than we’ve ever done and I want to make sure people understand that.”

McHenry County Circuit Court sided with BMO Harris Bank in February and issued a summary judgment for $16.3 million against defendants Ivan Djurin, a partner with Lake Forest real-estate investment company North Street Partners and president of Djurin Aviation Inc.; 5112 Greenwood LLC; and Galt Airport LLC. The award includes $358,574 in late charges and excludes attorney fees. Proceeds from the sale will be used toward paying down the balance.

Djurin and Michael Stanard bought the airport in 1998 from original owner Arthur Galt Jr. Stanard, who owns the marketing firm Studio@OneZeroCharlie in Woodstock, later sold his interest in the airport to Djurin before the foreclosure filing.

The land auction will take place May 24.

All told, the parcels in question span about 172 acres. Based on McHenry County assessment records, the five parcels at 5112 Greenwood Road have an estimated market value of slightly more than $1 million.

Cleland said he and his partner, Brian Spiro, have a long-term lease to run the airport.

“It’s going up for sale as an airport and it’s being sold as an airport,” Cleland said. “About 100 airplanes are based here and another 150 pilots, or so, use the airport.”

Harris Bank sued to collect a $13.5-million loan issued in 2006. The loan requires payments of principal and interest of nearly $100,000 a month. Attorneys for the bank, Chapman and Cutler LLP of Chicago, were unavailable for comment. The defendant’s attorney, Camille Goodwin of Woodstock, also did not return phone calls.

Beth Rehm, vice president of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 932 at Galt and a pilot, said those who use the airport have been told very little about how the sale will affect them – from the bank or from Kinzie Real Estate Group of Chicago, which is acting as receiver for the court. But she is convinced the hangars, flight school and maintenance services will continue to operate as usual. Galt, which caters to recreational flyers, has a 3,000-foot paved runway and 2,200-foot grass runway.

“There have always been two or more buyers waiting in the wings for this to come to an end when the bank is ready to sell,” she said. “We’re using the airport as an airport and waiting for the financial arguments to be settled. The sooner the better, as far as we’re concerned.”

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