Dayton International Airport straddles two counties and borders four townships where a collective of civic leaders, businesses and citizens wanted to understand how the project would shape the region’s economic development for years to come. Realizing that sharing accurate and timely information was the best way to win support, the team held a series of meetings with stakeholders. In addition to the formal gatherings, the team also held open meetings every other week for more than a year.
The transparency of the information, along with the team’s willingness to listen patiently to everyone’s point of view, earned the trust and buy-in of the surrounding communities and helped achieve the client’s goals.
“Anybody could pop in,” says GS&P team member Mike Cochrane. “Everybody was aware. Everyone had a voice. Everyone was heard, and they appreciated that.”
For each of the three potential development areas, the project team — which included two real estate and economic consulting partners — performed SWOT analyses (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and provided the client with detailed information regarding natural environments, environmental site concerns, utilities, zoning, land-use allocations, existing and planned transportation infrastructure, historical considerations, affected political districts and the presence of neighborhood associations. An environmental assessment (EA) was performed on all the properties, and the EA for the entire airport was updated. Issues that might impact the development plan were mitigated by the airport authority.
“The SWOT analyzed every conceivable issue that might affect the redevelopment of airport property,” says team member Mark Spalding. “Anything from local and state regulations to crime statistics in the area, as well as the patterns of business development and what could be forecast for the future.”
The potential for aviation-related development was assessed for each area based on the airport’s 20-year master plan and discussions with staff. Based on the identified constraints and the SWOT analysis, several bubble diagram development options were prepared for each area and were eventually developed into master development plans. The plans identified the development type, layout and square footage of each type of development.
It was determined that Area 1 would include property adjacent to the taxiway that would be restricted to aeronautical-related uses. Located near the terminal between Runway 13/31 and the main airport entrance, the final preferred development mix contains both aeronautical and non-aeronautical uses, and consists of aviation maintenance and cargo facilities, Class A office space, office-flex space, warehousing and retail-commercial areas.
Area 2 is close to the existing Fixed Base Operator (FBO) and has taxiway access. It will be focused on development tied to general aviation, including reserved space for corporate headquarters development and through-the-fence access to general aviation hangars.
Area 3 is located in a more industrial area on the north side of the airport with access to Runway 18/36. The team determined it would be best suited for aviation logistics and industrial uses. One of the initial key constraints identified for Area 3 was a lack of suitable access for industrial users. As a result of the final plan, the city is pursuing an intermodal hub north of the airport that will include rail service, as well as considerations for widening the roadway as a part of its 10-year transportation plan.
The future — where idle spaces are transformed into corporate headquarters, Class A offices, retailing, new aviation-related activities, logistics and warehousing businesses, thoughtfully preserved green spaces and even a suggested high-tech office park — will look very different for Dayton International Airport.
“The LUDOP revealed that a high-tech office park at the airport would be a logical development,” says Spalding. “That’s based on demographics, levels of education of the surrounding population and the types of industry that Dayton can support. The real beauty of the plan is its flexibility. It envisions the presence of high-tech businesses at the airport, but it doesn’t restrict the ability of economic development officials to recruit other tenants that would also be a good addition.”
“Each use will be in the area where it fits best. Aviation uses are near existing taxiways and runways. Aviation logistics businesses and the intermodal industrial/warehousing park will be in a pre-existing industrial area away from the terminal. Corporate offices will be positioned for quick and easy access to the General Aviation area where private and business aircraft are hangared. And if corporate entities want through-the-gate access to their plane, they’ll have that,” adds Cochrane.
If you plan it, they will come
GS&P also helped move the business recruitment process forward by working with a consultant to develop the marketing website that provides detailed information to businesses interested in investing at the airport. Numerous graphics and data from the LUDOP provide quick and concise information, and the efforts are already yielding significant results.
“If someone wants to select a site at the airport, they can pull the information and make an informed decision,” says Cochrane. “Hyatt is an example of that. When the hotel chain was making its decision about locating at the airport, information was available on the site, even before the study was 100 percent complete. Providing that level of information was a thoughtful convenience for decision makers, and the end result will benefit travelers and create new jobs and tax revenues for the city.”
From airlines and airport tenants to surrounding communities and business leaders, the team successfully demonstrated the LUDOP’s positive impact to the airport and the region, and in the process turned skeptics into supporters. GS&P is now part of the team selected to implement the phased plan in each of the three development areas.
“The LUDOP has quickly become a key item in the toolkit that Dayton’s economic development team uses when recruiting new and expanding businesses,” says Spalding. “The client wanted to know what would help them go into the future, and that’s what we proposed. The master plan identifies the highest and best use of each of the three areas of the airport property and will guide the area’s growth for years to come.”