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Airports Lease Land To Up Revenue

Indiana airports are looking for ways to become self-sustaining, including land leases for commercial use.

The Columbus airport

Photo: Alex Roy / WFIU-WTIU News

Local airports, such as Columbus Municipal Airport, are leasing land to universities and private companies.

Two airports are creating strategies they say will help their bottom lines.

Columbus Municipal Airport does not receive any tax dollars. Originally the Bakalar Airforce base, the airport was deeded over to the city of Columbus in 1972. The deed states the airport needs to remain, as much as possible, self sufficient.

Airport Director Brian Payne says they have more than 80 land leases total.

“This airport is a completely self sufficient entity,” Payne says. “So we actually take no tax dollars to run the Columbus airport what so ever. And the reason we can do that is because of these types of land leases.”

The airport was also given more 2,000 acres of farmland as a way to generate revenue, but with steady inflation over the past three decades, farming just isn’t enough.

Columbus Municipal Airport officials are working on a lease for Iowa based company Bluffstone to build student housing on the property. The land is already home to several universities including IUPUC, Purdue College of Technology, Ivy Tech Community College and Harrison College.

Payne hopes the housing lease will open up more doors for restaurants, coffee shops or retail establishments to open leases on the property.

Columbus is finalizing the land lease now. The housing is set to open in August of 2014.

At Terre Haute International Airport, Executive Director Bill McKown says money from their leases, including one to Indiana State University’s flight academy, is re-invested right back into the airport.

“There’s no real profit per say, but our goal here is to be self-sustaining,” says McKown. “So the more buildings we have and the more smart we do that, then obviously the more revenue will go back into the good upkeep and care of the airport for public use.”

The airports also house state owned property for the Indiana National Guard and the Army, and do not collect lease money from these entities.

 

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