Chattanooga airport helps Brainerd take off

Chattanooga airport helps Brainerd take off

August 27th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

HAND-IN-HAND INITIATIVES


The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport has several initiatives in its 20-year plan that coincide with Brainerd's revitalization plan. Some of the plans include:

• An office building along Brainerd Road

• Sidewalked streets along airport property

• Greenspace in runway protection zones

• Solar panel field

Source: Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport

A "Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport" sign sits just off Brainerd Road in front of a parking lot with cracks so large that weeds poke through.

Mike Landguth, president of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority, sees promise in rundown area.

He sees a multistory, multipurpose building here some day. That vision -- and lots of other ideas -- are all within the airport's 20-year master plan, he said.

"It takes time to implement that vision," Landguth says, staring out the window of his sport utility vehicle at the weed-veined pavement where a Target once stood.

At the airport, several dilapidated buildings stand at the end of one of the two runways. Landguth said the airport is in the process of acquiring three of those properties and tearing down the buildings. The airport will then convert the property into some type of greenspace -- perhaps a community farm or some type of park, he said.

All of these plans coincide with a wider vision proposed by City Councilwoman Carol Berz and others in the Brainerd community -- a plan to revitalize the entire area.

The overall Brainerd plan incorporates tree-lined streets with sidewalks and mixed-use developments. The plans also take into consideration how the airport can help shape part of the area.

"They've taken it from more of a vision into a reality," Berz said.

The airport acquired the old Target property, tore the building down and put up the new sign in front. Sidewalks were built and a small landscaped garden planted.

Berz said the airport authority has been present at every meeting about Brainerd revitalization and has "taken this very seriously."

As others continue to plan, the airport is the doer, she said, and hopefully, the whole corridor will start to grow.

"They're implementing their piece," Berz said.