State airfield purchase called ‘milestone’ for suburban airport

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Illinois has purchased Bult Field, a general aviation airport in the footprint of the proposed South Suburban Airport, for $34 million.

That’s $32.5 million more than the state could have paid for the 288 acres about 10 years ago.

Jim Bult, a wealthy and idiosyncratic man, constructed the airport in 2007 on the site of the former Sanger Field, 28261 Kedzie Ave., in Will Township.

Having grown up nearby, Bult became an aviation enthusiast and grew tired of the seemingly endless talk about the state’s plans to construct a giant airport near Peotone.

He purchased property nearby that included the old grass runway of Sanger Field, which began as a county airport in 1948 but was no longer being used. The property had been advertised for public sale at $1.5 million.

Bult, 52, made a fortune by launching Mr. Bult’s, one of the largest interstate waste-hauling companies in the nation today, at the age of 18.

Bult installed a 5,000-foot-long concrete runway that could accommodate corporate jets. He constructed airplane hangars, a taxiway, a terminal and a large, stone-and-timber house where he and his family live.

The site near Monee is within the property designated by the state for the South Suburban Airport. The state and Will County could have intervened to stop Bult but never did for reasons that remain unexplained.

In the past, Bult estimated the value of his improvements to the property at $35 million, not far off from the price he finally got from the state.

“This acquisition marks a defining milestone for the South Suburban Airport,” according to a statement by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“The Bults are true aviation enthusiasts who built one of the finest general aviation airports in the country. This ownership transition will be as seamless as possible for airport users, while fulfilling our long-standing promise to make the South Suburban Airport a reality,” said Susan Shea, IDOT’s director of aeronautics.

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