RDU’s Land-Lease Agreement Secures Funding for Critical Infrastructure

Agreement Helps Pay For Potential Mountain Biking Lease of Airport Land

Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s passenger traffic has increased 42 percent since 2010, and it is projected to grow another 10 percent in 2019. Financial projections show the airport’s traditional funding sources – such as grants, parking, airplane service fees, terminal rentals and concessions revenue – will not cover the capital expenses needed to accommodate passenger growth, new flights and larger aircraft.

On Mar. 1, 2019, the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board of Directors voted to generate new revenue through a land-lease agreement with Wake Stone Corporation to help fund crucial infrastructure projects including a new runway, more gates and better amenities for its 12.8 million annual customers.

The agreement is projected to generate about $24 million from a 25-year, 105-acre expansion of the adjacent existing quarry to help fund airport capital improvement projects. The agreement also requires Wake Stone to provide $3.6 million for a third party to lease 151 acres of airport land for mountain biking recreation. Wake Stone will contribute an additional estimated $3 million at the end of the agreement to reclaim the site with recreational features.

Two years ago, the Airport Authority solicited public proposals to begin exploring revenue sources. After evaluating an initial proposal from Wake Stone Corporation to lease a parcel of airport land for a quarry, the Airport Authority chose to pause and carefully consider revenue options and the community’s needs.

At that time, the Airport Authority encouraged Wake Stone to seek additional input from local governments, the broader community and groups with concerns about how airport land should be used. The new mineral lease agreement is the result of that good work—ultimately offering more than initially offered.

The agreement approved by the Board March 1 is the first step in determining the feasibility of a quarry. Wake Stone must obtain all required federal, state and environmental permits for the project to proceed, which is estimated to take up to two years.

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