Airport changes taking off

Airport changes taking off

October 19th, 2011 by Jennifer Bardoner in Local Regional News

Just as the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport's long-term strategic plan is really starting to take off, the airport is losing one of the visionaries behind it.

CEO Mike Landguth is departing the local helm to direct the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. His resignation is effective Nov. 4.

"This is a critical time for our community as it continues to grow, and we will perform our due diligence to ensure we have the best candidate pool," Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority Chairman Dan Jacobson said.

A national search will begin immediately, but plans are to name an interim within a few weeks, he said.

The "unique combination of strategic vision and old-fashioned work ethic" Landguth brought to the airport's leadership team are evident in the many changes which have occurred over his seven-year tenure. Many more are in the works, including a solar farm expected to be finished by the end of November and more interior renovations.

Other changes are flying a little more under the radar, but are expected to have a visible community impact.

Negotiations are wrapping up regarding the purchase of the former Prebul and Buick dealerships on Brainerd Road. Once finalized, these areas will become grassy areas for the public. Landguth said he anticipates the entire process to take 18 months to two years.

The nearby former Target building and property to the north which encompasses 16 acres in total is slated to become a "quasi-business type complex," he said.

"We're going to have to have some land acquisition before that can happen," he said. "I don't think that's probably in our five-year window. If it's five, 10 or 15 [years], I don't know."

These and others are included in the community-designed Brainerd Road Corridor Master Plan.

"The airport board has been fabulous; they're the first ones that are kind of kicking off what we're doing here," Councilwoman Carol Berz said in regards to the community vision and related plan. "These aren't just pie in the sky plans. They're really happening. Money is being allocated."