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Airport Business Park makes progress toward implementation
ARLINGTON The Arlington City Council authorized Mayor Margaret Larson to sign the Arlington Airport Westside Business Park lease Dec. 4, but Airport Manager Rob Putnam is still asking area residents and prospective renters to remain patient.
This whole project, weve been saying, Another six months, Putnam laughed, before turning serious. The conditions of the lease are still subject to approval by the FAA, but we hope to have that worked out within 60 days or so.
According to Putnam, many of the FAAs concerns were able to be addressed by revising the terms of the lease, sometimes simply through better verbage, while on other issues, he contends that the lease is already within proscribed guidelines, and its merely a matter of convincing the FAA of the same.
At first, they were saying that we had to get 100 percent of the rent up front, but we believed that we had more leeway than that, Putnam said. They were also telling us that we needed to get an appraisal done now, but if were still as far as two years out from implementing this, any current appraisal is going to be worthless by that time.
At the same time, Putnam readily conceded that the FAA was correct in objecting to the original planned lease of 285 acres of airport lands, especially since some of that area would have overlapped with aviators landing approaches, and as such, the lease area was reduced to 115 acres, of which 89 acres are usable.
The implementation of the Westside Business Park has been an ongoing project ever since 1997, but it wasnt approved by the city until 2002, at which point the Federal Aviation Administration still had to weigh in, requesting that the airports 20-year forecast for the area be expanded to 50 years, just as the Washington State Department of Transportation asked for density studies of the area.
By 2004, other federal agencies were examining the Westside Business Parks potential environmental impacts, to ensure that local wildlife would not be adversely affected, nor that water levels would significantly increase or decrease in Portage Creek.
Depending upon what methods are employed to limit stormwater runoff, the project could cost anywhere between $7 million - $9 million, but Putnam hastened to add that there wont be any immediate cost to us. A three-member appraiser panel has assigned 44 percent of the difference between the areas current value and its improved value as the airports share, while the airports revenue-sharing term has been reduced from 75 years, with a 25-year option, to 25 years per lot.
We may be waiting two years before we see any revenue from the Business Park, but thats about how long wed be waiting in any event, said Putnam, who described the eventual Business Park as a haven for small shops, such as coffee bars and bookstores, whose fronts would all be turned inward, so that none of them would be immediately accessible from 172nd, and customers would presumably be drawn in, rather than just stopping along the way. He also predicted offices and light-industrial workplaces, albeit with no lumberyards or other forms of outside storage.