Inland Port, Executive Airport Land on Council's Radar During Talk of Economic Development

Before the council's Economic Development Committee got 'round to talking about Dallas's employment figures -- and it was a brief briefing -- familiar Unfair Park figure Karl Zavitkovsky, head of the Office of Economic Development, gave the council an hour-long-plus overview of what his office of up to -- everything from trying to sell Southern Dallas to develop downtown to raise money to recruit businesses. His bullet points are here, along with maps showing how and where public money's being spread around the city (or not, as Ann Margolin pointed out).

And while the discussion was all over the place, two things kept coming up: the Inland Port, which has stalled out for myriad reasons (Richard Allen's bankruptcy, too much SALT) and Executive Airport. Tennell Atkins, who chairs the committee, asked Zavitkovsky to come back to the committee next month with a full Inland Port briefing: "The port was set up for warehouse and distribution development," he said. "and I feel like if we don't go back and look at what's going on there, we'll be that far behind." Schutze has already reserved a seat.

Zavitkovsky also mentioned during his briefing that Executive Airport and Love Field need to be better leveraged in terms of economic development. At which point it was revealed that the reason Executive Airport isn't used the way it should be -- or the way city officials had hoped as recently as December -- is because its runaways are just too damned short. At which point, Atkins explained that "during the Super Bowl, we found out it's the best airport around, but we have a length problem." Hey, now.

"We've got land out there across the road, what are we going with it?" said Sheffie Kadane, who's particularly fixated on the subject. "I see that being a hot spot." So much so he wants Executive to siphon off planes presently flying into Addison Airport.

"That's the reason we've targeted it," Zavitkovsky said. "We feel like it's a very underutilized resource and agree with Mr. Atkins in regards to the length of the runway with regard to private jets." At which point Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans said the city could fund a runway extension by partnering with the Federal Aviation Administration or using revenue bonds through the aviation department.

"Look at McKinney," Kadane said. "We don't go to the FAA money. Instead of everything going to Love, we need to separate the two. That is a revenue generator there, and non-aviation land could go to the general fund and increase property tax."

Evans said, fact is "we could also use the sale of land to the private sector to help fund infrastructure." Especially if private and cargo planes started using Executive regularly. Executive Airport will also come to the committee as its own briefing, said Atkins, sooner than later.

Now to the employment briefing: The council was just told by Daniel Oney, the OED researcher, that there will be "no recession for the next three to six months" in Dallas. Whew? Or not: "We're still not doing as well as the suburbs or the state."

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