Jeffrey S. Harris,
MAI, is a
director in the
Chesapeake, Virginia, office of
Valbridge Property Advisors.
mined that residential wasn’t a viable option.
The property is in a low-traffic area, so I ruled
out retail and office use as well. Therefore, I
determined its highest and best use was industrial development.
The tricky component was the highest and
best use of the site as improved. Fortunately, I
was able to connect with appraisers at Valbridge
Property Advisors across the United States and
leverage their collective hangar appraisal experience. I also contacted the handful of companies that operate hangars to determine whether
there was a market to buy or lease hangars of
this size. There wasn’t. As for demolition, I
determined that the cost of razing the structure
would be too substantial.
I knew the building had once been used by a
cabinet manufacturer, so my next step was to
determine what the cost would be to convert the
hangar to functional industrial space. The con-
version would primarily involve adding sprin-
klers and a drop ceiling for practical and useful
office space. I completed the cost approach
using the replacement cost of a Class S indus-
trial building and deducted the cost to convert
from functional obsolescence.
I completed the sales and income approaches
using as a comparison a Class S industrial building with 30-foot-clear ceilings. Market research
indicated that anything over 30 feet in ceiling
height in that market was super adequate. Again
I deducted for functional obsolescence.
Ultimately, the market value estimate was
heavily based on the cost approach, but the
sales and income approaches were relatively
similar. In-depth market research also was
extremely critical in helping to determine highest and best use, which, as improved, involved
converting the blimp hangar into a functional
It was an interesting assignment — and a
challenging one — that I really enjoyed. F
Built at the start of World War II to house airships for anti-submarine coastal patrol, the
steel hangar near Elizabeth City, North Carolina, measures 960 feet by 328 feet and stands
190 feet tall. At left is the interior in the 1940s, and above is the exterior today.