Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin

Kit plane builder Epic Aircraft has finalized a deal to buy Cessna Aircraft Co.'s vacant Bend manufacturing plant.

Epic paid $3.1 million for the building at Bend Municipal Airport, according to Compass Commercial Real Estate Services, which represented the buyer.

The deal came a day after the city completed a lease transfer of more than 600,000 square feet of land at the airport from Cessna to Epic, said city attorney Gary Firestone.

Messages and emails left Friday with Epic CEO Doug King were not immediately returned.

Negotiations over the building came to light last week, when King told the Bend City Council of his plans to use Cessna's 204,000-square-foot building to boost production of Epic's LT plane model.

“The indication is that everything that needed to be checked off (for the deal to close) has been done,” Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore said Friday.

The sale ends years of negotiations over the building, which had been a sore spot for some city, airport and economic development officials, noting the building's massive and untapped potential.

First put on the market at $7 million in 2009, the Cessna building price was lowered to $5.97 million in June 2010, and dropped to $3.9 million earlier this year, according to The Bulletin's archives, before finally being purchased for $3.1 million.

“We've certainly spent a lot of hours working with clients trying to get that building filled over the last three-and-a-half years,” said Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon.

Cessna, which shut down its Bend operations in 2009, has kept up with lease payments on the land beneath the manufacturing plant — about $7,600 a month. The city of Bend owns airport land, which tenants at the airport lease.

Epic's 30-year lease agreement calls for monthly payments of $7,700, with 3 percent annual increases starting in 2014. It gives the company control of more than 600,000 square feet of land, including the 204,000 square feet that the Cessna building sits on. Additional land could be built on in the future, according to the lease agreement.

“We're excited to see the building get filled and bring jobs and economic activity to the airport,” Lee said. “It's something that has been missing the last few years.”

Epic now owns two buildings at the airport — the Cessna plant and a 90,000-square-foot building further north that the company had been leasing, but purchased earlier this year.

Epic has been on a growth track since it ceded local ownership to Engineering LLC, a Moscow-based company, in March. The company upped its workforce from 27 to 50 between March and September.

King told The Bulletin in an email last week that Epic expects to add 40-80 new staff in 2013. The hiring would come as Epic seeks to certify its LT model with the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA certification would let Epic manufacture the plane in-house, rather than selling packaged kits to buyers. That move could open new markets for LT plane sales, King told The Bulletin earlier this year.

Aircraft Investor Resources, a Las Vegas company, started building Epic LT planes in Central Oregon in 2005.

Epic declared bankruptcy in 2009, rocked by the recession, missed lease payments and lawsuits. King and several business partners bought Epic in 2010.

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