Land Development at RDU: What’s Next

Lake Crabtree County Park is on land owned by RDU.
Lake Crabtree County Park is on land owned by RDU.

In the news this week have been stories about RDU’s possible development of land near Lake Crabtree County Park.

As the Airport Authority pointed out in this blog post in October, the Airport Authority has no plans at this time to develop the land that is currently home to popular bike trails.

This land is still under a 25-year, annually renewable lease with Wake County. 

So what are the airport’s plans? This year the Airport Authority will kick off its first master planning exercise in more than 25 years. During this study, RDU will take a look a closer look at the possible development of land it owns, including the property adjacent to Lake Crabtree County Park.

The Master Plan

In 2014, the Airport Authority completed a 15-year, nearly $1 billion period of construction that resulted in a new parking garage, a revamped general aviation complex, Terminal 2 and the renovated Terminal 1. It is now time to launch a new master plan that will set the course for the next 20-25 years.

Among other things, the master plan will allow the Airport Authority to create a strategy for future development of land identified in a report developed by the Urban Land Institute last year.

In its report, ULI recommended that the Airport Authority further study and analyze parcels of land that could possibly be developed for non-aeronautical purposes. As part of the master planning process, we will conduct this further study and analysis.

It is important to point out that public engagement will be part of this process, during which the community will be invited to learn more about the airport’s master plan and provide feedback.

Why Development

Why is the Airport Authority considering developing land it owns that will not be used for aeronautical purposes? The answer is simple. Like airports across the country, RDU can no longer depend upon airline activity, the passenger facility charge and federal grants to pay for major airport projects. As a result, we must find new ways to generate revenue that will allow us to maintain and develop the world-class facilities our region has come to expect.

The Bottom Line

The Airport Authority currently has no plans to develop the land adjacent to Lake Crabtree County Park. We will study this parcel, among others, as part of our master planning process, which will give us the opportunity to determine what, if any, development will be beneficial to the airport and our region.