Business & Economy
12:03 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

Top 6 Listener Ideas For RDU's Undeveloped Land

RDU Airport is looking for suggestions to develop acres of unused land on airport property.
RDU Airport is looking for suggestions to develop acres of unused land on airport property.
Credit Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority

 Updated Monday 3/24 12:15 p.m.

The Raleigh Durham Airport Authority is looking for ways to put more than 2,000 acres of undeveloped land to good -- and profitable -- use.  Authority members heard a presentation Friday morning from representatives of the Urban Land Institute.  Here's what was proposed:

  1. a warehouse district area for distribution of goods
  2. a hotel
  3. office space

We were a little underwhelmed with the proposal, so we asked WUNC listeners on Facebook to give some alternate ideas. Our question was this: "OK, if you could put ANYTHING on undeveloped land near the airport, what would you suggest?"

Of the more than fifty responses, the most requested idea was: do nothing at all. As Catherine writes: "Nothing. Why we gotta develop everything?" Listeners touted the need for undeveloped space, places for wildlife to go.

But if development must happen, here are the top 5 listener suggestions:

  1. A solar farm
  2. A light rail station
  3. Gardens. (Monica says: A huge garden. Something for nature and it pollinators for a change.)
  4. Bike Trails
  5. Wind Mills

Other suggestions that seemed interesting:

  1. A cell phone waiting lot with wi-fi
  2. Hay fields (and sell the hay)
  3. An aviation playground (so kids can play while waiting.)
  4. More private hangar space

Some talked about the idea of a food forest. "A food forest connected with walking and biking trails. Fruit trees and wild edibles available for all." Like this one in Seattle:

Seattle’s vision of an urban food oasis is going forward. A seven-acre plot of land in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees, including apples and pears; exotics like pineapple, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, and lingonberries; herbs; and more. All will be available for public plucking to anyone who wanders into the city’s first food forest.

(Read the article about the Food Forest.)

The proposal

RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin says ULI representatives will come back with more detailed ideas in about three months.  She says airport leaders will examine -- and also share those ideas.

"A big part of anything that we do will be in collaboration with all of our community partners because we know that anything we do will not only benefit the airport, but also benefit our region," Hamlin said.

There is no timetable for development. Look at the presentation here.