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Detroit unveils new plans for city airport

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan unveiled a new plan for Detroit's City Airport on Thursday.
City of Detroit
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan unveiled a new plan for Detroit's City Airport on Thursday.

Detroit has received federal approval for a plan to put its city airport back on track.

The Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport, widely known as City Airport, has been declining and under-utilized for decades. But city officials say this new layout plan, just approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, opens up a world of possibilities — as well as up to $100 million in federal grants.

The plan calls for building new aircraft hangars and a new air traffic control tower. It would also bring the Benjamin O. Davis Aerospace-Technical High School back onto airport grounds, and decommission a runway, opening up an additional 80 acres for “airport-related development.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said industrial facilities have returned to the surrounding east side neighborhood in recent years, and other companies have shown interest in but wanted assurances about the airport.

“They wanted to know what the future was going to be,” Duggan said. “They want to know there was going to be first class facilities and a safe airfield here. I think now that we can tell them, that is going to open up a lot of opportunities.”

Beverly Kindle-Walker, executive director of Friends of Detroit City Airport, declared herself largely happy with the new plan. But she told city and airport officials that new development at the site should be strategic — and specific.

“We want to see aviation-related industry come here. Not just any old thing to come here,” Kindle-Walker said. “It's got to be something to augment what we're doing here.”

Commercial flights at Detroit City Airport ended in 2000, and this plan won’t bring them back. But officials expect the redevelopment will draw more smaller aircraft flights. The plan requires Detroit to acquire some adjacent land for a safety zone.

Duggan said the city has buyout and relocation plans for the remaining homeowners in that area, which he said has “deteriorated badly over the years.”

“We are making the owners good-faith offers,” Duggan said. “They have a process by which they can accept the offer or challenge the offer, and then the city takes title. But at least based on preliminary conversations, the folks who are there were very pleased.”

City officials plan to complete the land acquisition process by the fall of 2023.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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