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Gwinnett Airport RFP About More Than Planes

Economic development for the area appears to be a strong goal for Briscoe Field.

As anyone who has traveled through Atlanta's monstrous airport knows, the journey is more than a trip through security and waiting at the gate.

Upscale restaurants are common. Many retail stores and day spas are the same as those found at area shopping malls. And there are wall-mounted ads touting entertainment options in Atlanta once people get out of the maze that is the country's busiest airport.

This is likely what Gwinnett County commissioners have in mind with the recent Request For Proposals for county-owned Briscoe Field. Scheduled commercial passenger service is fair game for anyone to propose.

True, a college freshman might have his diploma before any cross-country flights land at Briscoe Field. But such service opens the door to other things, and Gwinnett County's overall business scene is not expected to improve anytime soon.

Finding new sources of revenue was a welcome topic at recent budget discussions by the commissioners. And passengers exiting the airport with suitcases, credit cards and digital cameras would qualify.

Check this entry from the recent RFP, under "Approach to Meeting the County's Goals:

"Increase the Airport’s role as an economic showpiece and business gateway for the County.  Further develop the Airport to support the overall business activity of the region."

Now, about that airport down in Clayton County. A check of its website shows that it highlights its retail component as if it were a shopping mall unto itself. That is not to mention the attached YouTube video.

And once passengers leave the Gwinnett airport? Well, Gwinnett County itself has evolved. Per the 2010 U.S. Census, the county has a population of 805,000 -- compared to about 420,000 for the City of Atlanta proper.

And Gwinnett has become a self-contained area. The growth in such areas as Suwanee, Buford (Is there a mall there?) and Sugar Hill -- and contiguous areas such as Cumming and Johns Creek -- mean that fewer area residents commute inside I-285 for work or entertainment.

Remember, metro areas such as Dallas, Houston, New York and Washington D.C., have more than one airport. And retailing is an economic factor at all of them.

Also, the Gwinnett Chamber has established a trade liaison in China. And top entertainers such as Lady Gaga and Keith Urban are now routine at the Gwinnett Center. Fans fly in for such things. Really.

Any Gwinnett taxpayer has the right to oppose what is done with tax money and a public asset. But Briscoe Field belongs to taxpayers in Peachtree Corners and Duluth, too. And it appears that commissioners also are keeping them in mind.

Mark January 04, 2012 at 01:32 AM
@ blackhouse..... Isn't that strange.I live two miles from Briscoe and I have yet to meet anyone in the area in favor of commercialization. Not even one person. At a community meeting in April about 2000 people showed up opposed to the airport and only a handful of people......who didn't live near Briscoe..... showed up to voice their support.
PWB May 04, 2012 at 01:38 PM
As a United Air Lines frequent flyer based in Gwinnett County, i would welcome the opportunity to fly in and out of Briscoe Field. There are a number of airports across the country (John Wayne, for instance) that is surrounded by viable residential real estate. This is due to restrictions on time slots for landings and take-offs. New technologies in aircraft design and propulsion systems are making them almost innocuous to the surrounding environment. Making the airport a mall is simply an absurd suggestion and it's highlighted by the fact that the person who suggested it typed in ALL CAPS. One can simply drive down 124 and see abandoned retail real estate. My friends in Gwinnett, you're at a fork in the road. You have the opportunity to take a new venture or continue in a path with declining tax revenue, county shortages and limited growth potential. I would opt for the upside, especially when it can be financed by private enterprise. If you want to get this country back, it's going to take business to get there and it can start with a beacon at Briscoe Field.
North Georgia Weather May 04, 2012 at 01:57 PM
The taxpayers will foot the bill if things don't work out... and based on numerous past experiences, it won't. I was sitting outside on my patio this last weekend and a private jet came over my house from Briscoe. I can tell you right now I want no more of that over my head. You can talk all you want about how quiet the new jets are but based on my personal experience in being under the east flight path of the airport, that's a bunch of crap.
Jim Regan May 04, 2012 at 03:28 PM
# PWB if you are so concerned about your long commute to Hartsfield why in the world did you move to Gwinnett? I mean look at all the available housing around College Park and Hapeville, beautiful quiet neighborhoods south of Atlanta. Please explain your decison to live here, when you desire for convenience is so great?
Jim Regan May 04, 2012 at 03:33 PM
NGW have you noticed how much louder the jets are approaching Harfsfield since the FAA lowered the approach path. They are certainly noticable when outside, every two minutes. Imagine what the noise will be like at 1500 feet. This won't just be a Dacula Lawrenceville problem because they will also be low over Lilburn, Snellville, Loganville, Suwannee, and Buford. They just won't pop out of the sky, planes have to "approach" Briscoe over much of Gwinnett County.

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