$30M Airport Intended to Spur Conway Economy

by Luke Jones  on Monday, May. 19, 2014 12:00 am  

Construction of Conway’s new airport and terminal is underway at the Lollie Bottoms region south of the city.

He said a big part of the need for the project is economic development. “We want to attract some corporations who might be interested in Conway,” he said. “Like Southwestern, who want to land their corporate jets here.”

“In the past, when we’ve had companies look at Conway, there’s been the limitation of the existing runway,” Hegeman said. “They’ve not been able to bring their aircraft into the Conway airport, so they’ve had to land in Little Rock and commute back and forth. We think that with the new facility, that will not be the case. They’ll be able to fly right into the new airport. It will be an opportunity to show Conway much better. That’s very important when you’re involved in economic development.”

There’s also the potential, in the future, for businesses to locate on the airport’s grounds.

“It’s a beautiful area,” Bell said. “I think it’s good that it will be a self-sustaining project. There won’t be any general funds devoted to the operation of the airport or to the construction of it. It’ll be another addition to Conway that will help with our development.”

Bill Cope, who has owned Conway Aviation Services for 15 years — and will lose his job when the new airport is complete, as it will be a publicly operated facility — said the project is “a long time coming.”

Some nostalgic pilots will be reluctant to lose the old Cantrell Field, he said, but “from a commerce standpoint, and from an economic development standpoint, it’s a wonderful thing. … With the growth of Faulkner County and the growth of Conway, it has to happen for our city and for our county to continue to grow.”

Takeoff for Central Landing

The fate of Conway’s current airport is inextricably linked to the construction of the new one.

According to Bell, the Conway Development Corp. has partnered with Jim Wilson & Associates LLC of Montgomery, Alabama, to redevelop the old airport into a commercial mixed-use district.

The partnership, dubbed Cantrell Field Joint Venture LLC, is paying $6.1 million for the site, all of which is supposed to be funneled back into the cost of the new airport.

The 151-acre site will become “Central Landing,” a $100 million economic development plan that is considered to be the largest ever in the city.

“The preliminary plans are to do a lifestyle center-type development,” Bell said. “The city of Conway is making some street improvements in that area to be more accessible for the shopping public.”

The project will connect with The Commons, a nearby shopping center that includes a Target and several other large retail stores.

Bell said that the Cantrell partnership will be able to take possession of the airport in September, at which time the old infrastructure will be torn down.

“There are a few privately owned hangars that the owners may take with them, but for the most part everything will be cleared out,” Bell said.



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