Indianapolis making plans doomed to fail…..

Here is Indianapolis making plans based on the idea of a continued cheap, abundant carbon.   Oh, but it sounds so sexy:  there will be “beach front” property for “trucking and logistics” companies.  There will be hotels and retail.  There will be office buildings for “air traffic-intensive professionals” (actually, how many of those are there now?), convention and entertainment centers.  And there will be jobs jobs jobs! It will be an…..(breathless voice…) an areotropolis….

But what if?

What if the price of oil makes the cost of flying prohibitive within a few years?  Dont believe me?  See what happened to FedEx when the price of oil hit $95: http://www.forbes.com/2007/11/16/fedex-freight-update-markets-equity-cx_er_vr_1116markets27.html – this story shows how bad it got when oil got was only $19 higher than it is today….and we are in the worst economic situation since 1937.

What if the price of oil means that “trucking” and “logistics” isn’t how the economy will work anymore?  What if, after years of wage declines and faced with higher taxes, consumers simply quit consuming? And who exactly, as our economy shrinks, will ever fill up the “convention” and “entertainment” centers?

This would have been a genius plan in 1965.  It may have made some sense in1995.  But now?  This is just a doomed strategy.  Indy’s leaders are betting billions of dollars, and a community’s hopes, on the single assumption that energy will be as cheap and abundant as it always has been and that life and buisness will go on as we’ve known it over the last 50 years.  Yet peak oil is ending that now even as I type.

Actually, I do see a winner out of this:  the consulting firm that is being paid $1.3million to prepare the plan.  Now THAT’S a strategy that has power.

Indy Airport unveils its aerotropolis plans

Officials point to areas of immediate development, possible growth, connectivity
By Amy Hillenburg ahillenb@md-times.com
June 21, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s big, it’s bold, and it will take several stages to complete. But the Indianapolis International Airport is on its way to developing an aerotropolis.

Thursday, designers Landrum & Brown and the Indianapolis Airport Authority provided maps showing areas of immediate development, possible growth and connectivity. In March, the IAA approved a $1.3 million contract with Landrum & Brown for a comprehensive study that will guide future land use. With the completion of Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal, there is a core area to work from.

The aerotropolis concept was created by Dr. John D. Kasarda, who is director of North Carolina’s Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. He also heads up the institute’s Center for Air Commerce. His strategy includes an overall plan, which makes the airport a key player in global production. This is done by developing airport-related businesses and retail/convention establishments near the airport and in surrounding areas that are connected by interstates and light rail lines.

The community that depends on the airport will benefit from more jobs and retail growth, and the aerotropolis influence can spread out for 20 miles as it does in Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., Detroit and Chicago O’Hare.

Marsha Stone, chief financial officer for the IAA, said in the immediate future, plans include only airport-owned property and its five “reliever airports.” She said a reliever airport reduces some of the pressure at the main terminal by allowing access to airplanes of various sizes. The airport has five of them: Hendricks County-Gordon Graham Field, Eagle Creek, Mt. Comfort, the Heliport in downtown Indy and Metropolitan.

“The airport owns about 9,000 acres, but only about 1,500 acres will be our primary development area right now,” said Eric Anderson, property director for the IAA. “We have a ways to go, but in three months, we will have all the pieces together to get started. The next conference will be on Sept. 16, and we will know most of the players by then.”

Maps show areas of expansion, possible development

Anderson said maps are divided into sections for aviation and non-aviation use, possible use or reuse of property and what the future might hold regarding light rail, parking and other transportation.

IAA Land Use Advisory Board member Kelly Flynn said this was the second community and media conference, and officials are still getting input from professionals, private companies and individuals.

“The old terminal building will probably be torn down,” Flynn said. “It is 50 years old, and there’s no way to efficiently update it. After it goes, the exit on Interstate 65 will give us ‘beach front’ property for trucking and logistics companies. And we are looking toward the outer areas like Plainfield and Decatur Township for economic development in the future.”

Flynn said the IAA would love to see a light rail system figured into the aerotropolis, and a spot was made available for it in the new terminal’s transportation system.

“We must plan now, even with the economy as it is,” Flynn said. “Seven years ago, we rebuilt Interstate 70 and paid extra to excavate out and lower the road. That’s in case we need a third parallel runway. It would cost us millions more if we wait to do this later.”

Kasarda said development in the aerotropolis model includes hotels, office buildings for air traffic-intensive professionals, convention and entertainment centers, logistics companies and manufacturing, he explained.

“All of these customers and suppliers need quick access to an airport and locate in the region because of that accessibility,” Kasarda said.

He added that AmeriPlex in Decatur Township is a critical node in the aerotropolis process — especially when the economy really begins to recover.

“Then, we expect to see development at the airport and in related areas to resume,” Kasarda said.

IAA media spokeswoman Susan Sullivan said the next conference will be Sept. 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and with the media until 3 p.m. The meeting will be held in the board room, fourth floor of the terminal building, in Room 11T.413.


courtesy map by Landrum & Brown This map from designers Landrum & Brown shows some of the planning for the airport property and the boundary streets and nearby interstates. About 1,500 acres will be the first to be addressed in creating an aerotropolis. Eventually, the plan, with economic development, will include downtown Indianapolis and the Plainfield and Decatur Township areas.

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