The National Academies

ACRP 03-39 [Final]

Generating Revenue from Commercial Development On or Adjacent to Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $375,000
Research Agency: Mead & Hunt
Principal Investigator: Stephanie Ward
Effective Date: 5/11/2015
Completion Date: 11/10/2016

ACRP Report 176: Generating Revenue from Commercial Development On or Adjacent to Airports is a comprehensive, practical guidebook for developing or redeveloping airport and adjacent properties for commercial and industrial purposes so that the development can contribute to overall airport revenues.  This guidebook is intended for use primarily by airports but may also be a reference for local government entities, economic development agencies, commercial developers, and land use planners.
Recognizing differences in airport and community economics and characteristics, available expertise and potential opportunities, the guidebook includes methods, considerations and specific checklists for preparing and implementing a commercial development plan. It addresses advantages and disadvantages of on-airport versus off-airport land development opportunities, as well as marketing and legal issues, among others. It also includes case studies that include successful and unsuccessful examples of commercial development on and around airports.                        
The development of commercial and industrial properties on or adjacent to airports has historically been viewed as a compatible land use development exercise, not an airport revenue generation exercise. Nationally, insufficient attention has been given to such development as a source of airport revenues.  Insufficient revenue streams have been a contributing factor in the decline of U.S. public use airports over the past few decades. ACRP Report 44: A Guidebook for the Preservation of Public Use Airports identified 16 reasons why some airports prosper and others struggle or fail. Many of these reasons are grounded in economic and financial factors. In short, simple business failures can be a major cause for airport closures. Public use airports that rely solely on aviation-generated and related revenues have a potentially narrow and undiversified revenue stream, making them particularly susceptible to cyclical market downturns and trends.

While the development of on-airport or adjacent property can potentially offer additional revenue, many considerations need to be addressed in addition to land use compatibility. These considerations include a thorough and realistic market analysis, compliance with FAA sponsor assurances and ensuring that development does not impinge on the airport's ability to accommodate long-term aviation activity. Yet many airports and their communities do not have the expertise necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of an airport's ability to generate additional revenue through the development of available land. This often leads to unrealistic revenue generation expectations or to unrealized potential. 
Under ACRP Project 03-39, research was conducted by Mead & Hunt in association with L.R. Kimball, Diana E. Fainberg Associates and the Law Offices of Yodice Associates. The information in the guidebook was gathered by interviewing representatives of at least ten different airports varying in type and size throughout the country and discussing overarching topics related to land development and the airports’ development experiences.   Interviews were also conducted with industry professionals in Airport Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), developers, airport managers, FAA Regional Directors and others.  As part of this guidebook, several toolkits have been developed for both site evaluation and implementation.  To download customizable (word) files containing the checklists in the appendices, go to the TRB website (www.trb.org) and search for “ACRP Research Report 176”.  
STATUS:  The research is published as Report 176. 

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