Charlotte airport wants full-service hotel where the control tower now stands

Charlotte Douglas International Airport said Monday it expects to build a full-service hotel on the site of the control tower early next decade, when the Federal Aviation Administration abandons the site for a new, taller tower in 2020.

Stuart Hair, the airport’s economic affairs manager, said “multiple developers are interested” in building an on-site hotel, a first for the airport. Hair said the airport envisions landing a nationally known brand such as the Intercontinental, which would allow businesses and organizations to hold small conferences at CLT without leaving airport property.

The existing control tower is just north of the new hourly parking deck that’s adjacent to the terminal.

The airport also is planning a new automated people mover that would carry people from the hourly parking deck to Wilkinson Boulevard, where it might feed into a new light-rail line that the Charlotte Area Transit System would like to build. The people mover would likely run through the hotel, Hair said.

The discussion was part of the airport’s presentation to City Council about a consultant’s new long-term plan for 25 square-miles surrounding the airport.

Charlotte Douglas wants to control, or at least guide, how the area grows. The airport envisions an area along Wilkinson Boulevard as a mixed-use village called “CLT Front Door.” That would have a mix of limited-service hotels, retail and office space.

The area west of Interstate 485 is slated for light industry, such as warehouses. There also would be retail and hotels, which would tie in with the River District, a massive new development of homes, offices and retail planned by Lincoln Harris.

The transportation network south of the airport would be overhauled. West Boulevard would be moved to the south to make way for a planned fourth parallel runway. The airport also envisions a new interchange at Interstate 485 and West Boulevard.

In terms of development, the area south of the airport is slated for more manufacturing and a possible expansion of the Norfolk Southern intermodal yard.

Hair said private developers have asked about the airport building new warehouses and offices and then leasing the space back to them.

“We have also had interest in us selling the land,” he said.

The airport doesn’t have a timeline as to when the nearby land will be developed. In the meantime, Charlotte Douglas is moving forward with several projects on airport property: the new fourth parallel runway, a new concourse on the site of the old rental-car parking lots, a widened terminal roadway and a larger ticketing area in the terminal.

Aviation director Brent Cagle also addressed Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, one of Mecklenburg’s oldest churches, which is increasingly affected by airport noise and development.

The church’s congregation voted Sunday to explore a merger with another Presbyterian church. That could begin the process of abandoning the site that has been its home for 257 years.

Cagle told council members the airport’s master plan does not call for the church to be bought and demolished.

He said the airport would buy the church if it’s for sale, but not the cemetery. But he said the airport is not pressuring the church.

“We will not force them out,” Cagle said.

Steve Harrison
Charlotte Observer