Aerotropolis' to Make a Major Impact on Commercial Development

By definition, an aerotropolis is a city in which the layout, infrastructure, and economy are centered around a major airport, and according to John Kasarda, director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, its development will usher in the fifth wave of change to the world's transportation infrastructure, if it can ovecome land acquisition battles.

By definition, an aerotropolis is a city in which the layout, infrastructure, and economy are centered around a major airport, and according to John Kasarda, director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, its development will usher in the “fifth wave” of change to the world's transportation infrastructure, if it can ovecome land acquisition battles. The concept of an aerotropolis has piqued the interest of many developers and it's set to make a major impact on commercial development. “Airports will shape business location and urban development in this century as much as highways did in the 20th, railroads in the 19th, and seaports did in the 18th centuries,” Kasarda recently told USA Today. “The three As — accessibility, accessibility, accessibility — will replace the three Ls — location, location, location.” While developers are interested in the prospect of an aerotropolis, many of the people who own the land they wish to develop on are not. That's the obstacle Wayne County officials in southeastern Michigan face these days. They've been trying to develop the 150 acres south of Detroit Metropolitan Airport's McNamara Terminal for years, but have been met with much resistance and litigation from landowners who don't like the idea of their land being used for private businesses. The county is trying to raise $7.5 million to start work on infrastructure, and officials are planning on 1,250 acres for office space, light industrial projects, a hotel, conference center, and some type of amenity. County officials said they will work around about 50 acres in land ownership gaps after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in August 2004 that the county can't condemn the property of about a dozen landowners to make room for the project. Mulugetta Birru, Wayne County's executive director of economic development hopes to change the landowner's minds by making them stakeholders in the project. “I'm hoping that eventually the owners will work with us to make them part of the development,” Birru recently told the Detroit Free Press.

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