Cleveland seeks consultant to study alternative uses, possible closure of downtown Burke Lakefront Airport
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The City of Cleveland is looking for a consultant to study the economic impact of the downtown Burke Lakefront Airport and determine if the land could be put to better use in other ways.
According to the city, the analysis will consider a range of options for alternative development of the airport, ranging from a park to a maximum density mixed-use development.
“We’ll ask the consultant to consider a range of impacts, such as jobs, tax benefits, property value and business revenue,” said Jeff Epstein, Cleveland’s director of integrated development, in the city statement. “It will give us a clear understanding of the economic benefits of the airport as well as how other potential land uses could benefit the city.”
It would be the second study this year to examine the possibility of closing Burke, which sits on 450 acres of prime lakefront real estate just east of downtown.
Earlier this year, the city asked Cleveland-based CHA Consultants to amend an existing contract studying the airport to also consider the possibility of closing the facility, which has been in operation since 1947.
The CHA study, which is expected to be completed in early 2023, specifically examines the shutdown from an aviation perspective. The city’s study will focus more on economic development and alternative uses, according to airport spokesman John Goersmeyer.
Closing Burke is a long-discussed idea that has gained traction in the past year since Mayor Justin Bibb was elected.
Bibb’s longtime predecessor, former mayor Frank Jackson, was adamantly opposed to the idea of closing the small airport. Many businesses – including hospitals, sports teams, law firms and others – use Burke regularly, relying on the easy access from the airport to downtown.
Traffic at Burke, however, has dropped significantly over the years.
Traffic volume peaked in 2000, with 100,321 takeoffs and landings, according to Federal Aviation Administration data, falling to 53,987 in 2010 and 49,278 in 2015. In 2021, the airport recorded 40,296 takeoffs and landings – about the same number as in 2019, before the COVID -19 pandemic.
This Burke study would be the second specific lakeside solicitation by City Hall in recent weeks. At the end of September, the city launched a call for proposals for a complete master plan for the north shore of the lake and is currently in the process of selecting a consultant.
Bibb also recently announced a series of town hall meetings to hear ideas from the community on how to better connect people at the lake, the first of which is at City Hall at 5 p.m. today.
The deadline for submitting proposals for the Burke study is December 9. The analysis is expected to be completed by May 2023, according to the city.
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