A plan for a Ghost Town

Here’s another city desperately chasing growth and all the benefits it supposedly brings.  In this case, it’s an Areotroplis, a make believe thing dreamed up by a free market believer that our future will look just like our past.  But oh it sounds so sexy…..global business, high speed, high tech, lots of jobs jobs jobs!  I dont know, but there may not be any way to resist the snake oil salesmen who promise such things.  They just sound so irresistible, what with all the cool sounding, 21st century-promising words.  Hell, Indianapolis has just fallen prey to this – see post below.

There is no substitute for oil to power airplanes of any size.  When the price of oil skyrockets again, the air industry will be the next to fall.  And if the price of oil doesn’t skyrocket?  Then that simply means we are still mired in deep recession.  Either proposition spells the doom of such schemes.

With such gurus there’s always a clear tip that they don’t really get it.  The article quotes the guru as saying that cities should build Areoptoli to, among the many other great reasons, attract millions of Chinese tourists.  I shit you not. 

Edmonton International has the potential to spin off a city-within-a-city

By Bill Mah, Edmonton JournalJune 24, 2010
 
Think airports are little more than flying-bus stations where you go to catch a flight or pick up arriving relatives?

That’s so 20th century.

A concept gaining prominence and espoused by experts such as John Kasarda, a professor at the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina, says airports are the anchors of 21st-century urban development.

They’re what seaports were to 17th-century economies, railways to the 1800s and highways to the 20th century.

“An airport is not an airport. You have to understand that. If you think that it is, you’re back in the 20th century,” Kasarda said Wednesday.

Airports are the fastest-growing centres of development because they’re suited to modern economies’ demands for global access, speed, agility, connectivity and the rapidly burgeoning tourism industry soon to be bolstered by millions of Chinese, Kasarda says.

“Airports and air routes have really become the physical Internet that moves products and people quickly over long distances.

“The web won’t move a box. Business remains a contact sport. Nobody is going to consummate major deals without looking their prospective partners or customers in the eye.”

Kasarda spoke at the Aerotropolis Symposium at Nisku on Wednesday. The one-day event was hosted by the City of Leduc, Leduc County, Edmonton International Airport and the Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Authority.

Increasing numbers of non-aviation firms are clustering in and around airports because of the access, speed and agility that airports provide to the new economy. The migration is transforming city airports into “airport cities.”

Kasarda developed the concept of the airport city where travellers and locals meet, do business, shop and are entertained without leaving the airport.

The growth of airport cities can be seen in the explosion of shops, restaurants and leisure amenities inside passenger terminals, crowding alongside the traditional newsstands and fast-food outlets.

Just as a city is surrounded by suburbs, airport cities are ringed by the “aerotropolis,” stretching up to 30 kilometres away where airport-linked business and residential development takes place along major transportation routes.

Kasarda points to Los Angeles-Ontario International Airport and the Hong Kong International Airport as successful, planned aerotropolis mega-developments.

Planning of aerotropolis development, rather than haphazard growth, is crucial, Kasarda told an audience of urban planners, municipal officials and business people.

“An aerotropolis will happen, but will it form and grow intelligently? You can plan it and do it right.”

Ken Woitt, director of planning and development for the City of Leduc, which owns greenfields around the Edmonton International Airport, said Wednesday’s event was a first step toward exploring an aerotropolis for the Capital Region.

“There will be undoubtedly be development around the airport, and we want to do it the best we can,” Woitt said. “Hopefully, we can make it a little better if we talk about it.”

Douglas Baker, a professor at Queensland University of Technology in Australia and an airport metropolis researcher, said effective aerotropolis development requires proper land-use planning, effective governance, economic development and suitable infrastructure.

“Those four synergize to make an effective airport city and aerotropolis and are necessary; otherwise you have conflicts between the region and between interests,” Baker said.

“The global economy is competition between countries — not regions — and that’s a lesson that Edmonton should well learn, and Calgary.”

He said Edmonton, for example, should consider providing a light-rail transit connection to the airport. “Making this Edmonton’s airport is critical,” Baker said.

“I rode the rail from the airport to downtown Portland. It was wonderful and efficient. This is prime for Edmonton. You’re extending your light-rail system. Why not continue it down to the airport and make that critical link?”

A bus connection to the airport would only be start, Baker said.

Because several jurisdictions are involved, the provincial government may have to co-ordinate aerotropolis development, he added.

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