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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.

R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew December 20, 2011 at 05:08 AM
I mentioned the resume collection FACT because while legal, it’s a sleazy attempt to sway the project at any cost- apparently honesty be dammed. The reputation of the business partner is ALL we really have since this plan hasn’t been done ANYWHERE before per their own admission. This little maneuver on their part demonstrates to my satisfaction that “zero trust” should be conveyed to them or data “they” supply. Doing a deal with them or a subsidiary would be a potential disaster for the Gwinnett taxpayer. PLEASE, PLEASE present just one study from ANY Residential realtor that supports your claims in increased value, Coldwell Banker doesn’t take your position. Yes I saw your quoted website by the way. As to revenue for the county, let’s take a breather on that one. We who live here have seen what happens when the government gets its money over the past 5 years. We need real accountability first. We could generate jobs and revenue hands over fist if we chose to accept spent nuclear fuel here (ala Yucca Mountain) and bury that under Briscoe or any county park - but I believe there would be some blowback. (Hyperbole - don’t let your head explode) DEFLECTION - Doesn’t FLY
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew December 20, 2011 at 05:23 AM
Tracy Please keep posting you win converts against your position each time. The project a done deal? Interesting - please tell us more - in print. I didn’t need the sound, been around planes too much as it is but I enjoyed the non committal responses of the Pro side and the DEMONMSTRATED lack of civility and distain that has become its hallmark…
Mark December 20, 2011 at 11:25 AM
@ Daryl here's what's hilarious.... 1. I provide you with many research based studies, one of which is 17 years old (not 15), but several are current. You disregard these. 2. You provide a graph compiled by Fly Briscoe that isn't a research based study at all! In fact, the graph is meaningless because it doesn't have a control. A real study would show what those houses would be worth if they were further from the airport than they are. (Statistics 101) 3.Where a person lives is very important in this argument. It shows if their motive is based on quality of life or making a profit at the expense of others. 4. Tracy is a "he"....not a "she."
Mark December 20, 2011 at 11:29 AM
@ Daryl Regarding the "citizens are overwhelmingly in favor of this" is hollow. Repeatedly I have asked Fly Gwinnett Forward, Landmark and Propeller for the actual questions that were asked in their "survey." Repeatedly, they have told me they would get those to me. Nada. Know why? Either the survey doesn't exist or the questions were so slanted that they are ashamed to show them. What kind of people release survey results without showing the survey??
Mark December 20, 2011 at 11:41 AM
Isn't that the truth R? I have discussed this lack of civility with the proponents of commercialization. I picture them all sitting around a table planning this and saying things like, "Okay. We know they (opponents) have facts on their side and public sentiment. Let's try to portray them as NIMBY's or ignorant. We'll make our own studies. Yeah....that'll work!" I have been called a moron by the people at Landmark and Daryl (above) wants me to "have an adult debate" after I provide him with several very thorough research studies that show how airports damage property values. ......and then THEY state, they don't want to "get dirty or make personal attacks." HILARIOUS! ....and they still won't tell you where they live.........
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Can you be more specific on the terms? I don't see any vulgar language, just people debating an issue.
Steve Burns (Editor) December 20, 2011 at 02:39 PM
@ Tracy, so far the debate has been proper. I posted the terms to keep it that way. Sometimes emotional issues get out of hand, and that's not fair.
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 02:47 PM
I can't help you there, if you don't understand the fact that this airport will bring jobs into the area along with people who will want to live near their jobs because of the high gas prices, then what else can I say? I live in the flight path and my home has already lost 50% of its value thanks to all of this "Hope and Change" we have seen over the past few years. The airport will help bring our home values upward, drive through downtown Lawrenceville and check out all of the empty town homes on the square. How long should they sit there empty? Who's money is tied up in them?There are plenty of homes near airports all over this country and they co-exist just fine.
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 02:50 PM
You mean a study like the multi million dollar one they did on the Peach Pass lanes?
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 02:57 PM
I am in Loganville and they will pass right over my home. I work in downtown Lawrenceville, and I will be subject to the airports full effects everyday. Using the opponents arguments, no commercial airport would exist near any residential area anywhere.
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Most of the time the airplanes will depart towards the west because of the winds.
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 03:05 PM
It will not be a Hartsfield-Jackson, that is the first thing you have to understand or the whole debate process is a waste of time.
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Where were you when they decided to build the Gwinnett Braves Stadium and the Mall of Georgia? Mayberry is long gone, it is time to move forward and support the seeds that were planted.
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Well R, I do think it is a done deal. The prospects of money have a way of making things happen. Drive around the entire area and it looks like the process is already underway. I may be wrong, but I think the whole commissioner stand is just a dog and pony show. I learned to fly at Briscoe Field back in the 80's and I love the airport, sadly it looks like a ghost town during the day now. Aviation fuel is so expensive that general avaiation is struggling to survive. Briscoe Field is the perfect choice for a regional airport. It is only 40 miles from the world's busiest airport, it already has an FAA control tower there and it has instant access to a limited access highway. The current Sugarloaf Parkway extension and the intersection overhaul at 316 and 20 should be completed in time for the airports metamorphosis. Let the free market along with private investments decide if it is to be a success or not. We can't even afford to keep the Gwinnett libraries open in Gwinnett County because of the poor economic conditions. I believe this project can change all of that.
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Thank you Mark for pointing out my manhood! LOL!
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 03:58 PM
I understand the resistance to the project from people who live near the airport. I think the airport should be privatized. I also think that commercial flights and profits will be the only way that privatization will work. We have seen what privatization has done to Stone Mountain Park and Lake Lanier Islands. Both venues have improved greatly, if there was no profit to be made in the venture who would take it on? If this is done right, the county will let private investments take the risks and then let the free market decide if commercial flights are the future of Briscoe Field. I am sick of studies like the multi million dollar one they did on the Peach Pass lanes debacle. Briscoe Field could be a beautiful modern commercial airport that Gwinnett could be proud of. It would support the other attractions already located in Gwinnett like the stadium and the arena. Somewhere along the lines Gwinnett County decided to give up its rural roots and have their own professional sports teams, public bus systems, mega malls, and concert arenas. This airport project should not come as a surprise to anyone. It is a logical step in the evolution of Gwinnett County. Imagine being able to actually keep our libraries open, lower property taxes, Millions in federal transportation funds and even being able to pay our police officers and firefighters what they are really worth.
Tracy Lee December 20, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Steve, I did not see anything improper that required a warning. This is an emotional topic and we are all adults, we can take our hits and make our cases. Fair would be a local media that was not bias on this issue. They have only printed negative stories regarding the airport expansion. One metro paper actually ran a positive story about it and the article even included pictures of the proposed new terminals and they were beautiful. The Gwinnett papers have shown their bias on this issue big time.
Mike Korom December 20, 2011 at 04:50 PM
As I've stated, I recently decided to get involved because of the history of the lack of ethics on the part of the BOC. (see my post in the Dacula Patch.) For the record when the mall was built I lived in Barrow County. The mall was a private venture with many benefits built during the economic boom. Tax payers have benefited and this was good progress. The stadium required taxpayers funds and is costing each of us daily. Nice attempt on the Mayberry comment. Our growth is inherent. But we must be responsible in providing for it. My vision is to give us an Alpharetta type environment as opposed to a PDK/Chamblee type; a John's Creek not a Charlie Brown/Mableton area. These areas, while very populated, have attracted many corporate entities that have provided many jobs. How did they do it without an airport? Amazing. Planting seeds is great if you plant the correct ones. Getting back to 'where I've been', For the last three years, I have been volunteering my time as the President of the Apalachee Farms HOA. We have 600 homes located 2-3 miles from the airport. I'm not sure what your implication is by asking where I was. I won't ask where you were.
Mark December 20, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Very well stated, Mike.
Mark December 20, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Thank you, Tracy. That's the first time I have heard anything resembling empathy from you for those of us who live near Briscoe. So....what's to be done with us if Briscoe goes commercial? Will there be a huge buyout like the ones we saw in Clayton County 30 years ago? Will there be noise abatement programs to further sound proof the homes? What other legal costs will be involved with those homeowners? Who pays...the developer or the county?
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew December 21, 2011 at 06:07 AM
The Civic center was developed as a year around access venue and was put in at a time when Gwinnett could afford to cover operations. The staduim was done in secret with ZERO public input before the "grand surprise". The staduim is a 6 month out of the year venue, not nearly as valuable as the Civic Center, so it doesn't compare as a success. In fact the Civic Center has carried the Stadium to some degree already. The county board left work it was chartered by the state to complete left undone ( County Shared Services) to chase this ball dream. WE were in default BEFORE the ground was even broken to build Gwinnett Stadium, then throw in the grand jury probe, its published results and the indictments - these effectively neuter any "Good Will" the commission should be extended. This isn't the 1980s anymore and our leaders track record over the past 5 years does NOT mirror that decade. So we hear the input from IMG's recommendations and watch our leaders pay for advice and ignore it - we saw this before with the trash program and it will have the same impact here.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew December 21, 2011 at 06:41 AM
We are evolving and those who are in opposition are very concerned with what we could evolve into if this goes wrong. ( or even perhaps if it goes right) The POSSIBLE opportunity for jobs tied to this project are just not going to be large enough to swing the economy as painted. We recognize the desire our county goverment has to get funding from sources that don't require constant contact with the citizens, but the libraries wont be funded and property taxes won't be reduced by a ten gate operation. Regardless of claims, that like a mall, if "it goes under the county will have no funds at stake" is just plain wrong, because we have taken FEDERAL funds, there will always be a 2 or 3 party team tied at the hip. If the private entity fails, Gwinnett will be required to run the airport at whatever service level exists at the time of the private failure. This responsibility has been confirmed publicly by IMG for all to hear at least TWICE now. So if we use a Mall as a comparison, how would Gwinnett have been affected if it had been required to pick up GWINNETT PLACE operations a few years ago? So this really wouldn't be a pure private investment situation. We seem to be continuing on an expectation of involving ever greater amounts of Federal dollars to support our projects, which is EXACTLY how we got our bus system and its needed subsidies to operate, the HOT lanes at a time when we owe more than 16 Trillion going on 20? Promises are easy with other people's money.
terrance R. Brand December 21, 2011 at 06:05 PM
I CERTAINLY WOULD SUPPORT TURNING BRISCO FIELD INTO A SHOPPING COMLEX POSITIONED RIGHT ON WHERE THE RUNWAY IS TODAY. THE TOWER COULD BE TURNED INTO AN ELEVATOR SHAFT FOR THE SECOND AND HIGHER LEVELS. THIS INDEED WOULD PUT A FINAL END TO THE AIRPORT CONTROVERSY AND WOULD ENHANCE ECONOMIC GROWTH TO THE ENTIRE AREA. NOT TO MENTION THE TAX REVENUE GAINED BY BOTH THE COUNTY AND CITY OF LAWRENCEVILLE.
blackhouse January 03, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Living near Briscoe may or may not be a factor in the current decline in my property value. This whole area is not so slowly falling apart. My neighborhood has had numerous foreclosures in the past few years, and several homes remain vacant. A close realtor friend (who lives nearby also) recently informed me that there is zero business here and has relocated all focus to north Fulton. I'm not one of the experts for the airport or the real estate market, but insanity is doing the same thing over again, and something must be intentionally changed sooner rather than later. We are seeing change right now - all negative. More stores are closing. More homes are foreclosing. More jobs are ending. A neighbor of mine recently moved to another part of metro-Atlanta (ironically near another airport in North Atlanta) for an actual job. Is Briscoe our one step miracle to transform Gwinnett? I highly doubt it. However, is it a strong step in a very positive direction to begin a new era in Gwinnett? That I believe it is. I am vested in Gwinnett and the community around Briscoe Field. I haven't talked to all of the 65,000 people mentioned above, but my neighbors in that circumference are 100% ready to bring commercial service and the potential of jobs and economic growth.
Mike Korom January 03, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Black house- So help us understand:. Your realtor friend has changed his/her focus to North Fulton? Did I miss something? Did they recently propose a new airport? How are they doing it without an airport? Expanding/commercializing the airport IS doing the same thing over. Just like Gwinnett stadium the taxpayer, you and I, will end up paying for it. I submit that we have a choice. We can look like Mableton or we can look Ike Roswell. We can look like Chamblee or we can look like Alpharetta. We can look like Forrest Park or we can look like John's Creek. I suggest as your realtor does, let's go for the North Fulton look. North Fulton has attracted many major and mid-major corporate headquarters and distribution facilities because they have created the business climate to do so. While things are not all rosie there,(they have had equally as many foreclosures) they have established a positive business climate and planned for it all without an airport.
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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