Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More on RAC's -- Airport style

The Lexington Blue Grass Airport board today heard a presentation, concerning a proposal for some hotels, restaurant and other mixed use development at the entrance to the airport property on Man o' War Blvd. This has not been an unanticipated event. The pressure to expand the RAC's (Rural Activity Center) will do nothing but increase as we get closer to preparing for the next comprehensive plan. The report on Business Lexington has a slick video of the presentation.

This is not the first RAC to have unanticipated changes to the area. I posted on another earlier in the month and detailed some of the thoughts I have on some type of revamping of the RAC's.

I believe that this proposal is related to the decline of traffic at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and the attempt to gain market share for Lexington. Since 2005, the Cincinnati air traffic has fallen by just about half--from 600+ flights a day to just over 300, after the latest cuts take place. Total boardings have fallen from a high of 22 million to a projected 10 million for this year. Things are so bad that an entire concourse will be closed, even though it was recently completed and is still not paid for.

The airfares have risen in the last few years to some of the highest in the country. Even some of the major companies recruited to northern Kentucky, primarily because of the number of flights and ease of travel, are finding alternate locations and airlines in order to save money. I do not have high hopes for the airline industry, as a whole, but this could be good for Lexington in the short run.

The Airport Board will ask the Planning Commission to study the area and create an area plan for their RAC. I would think that the Commission would like to study all the RAC's at the same time rather than piecemeal over several years.

All in all, the wrangling over the RAC situation in the years to come will be very interesting.

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