Colleges, businesses interested in 440th site: County wants 60 acres of former base for runway

July 5, 2007

Jul. 5--Area colleges and businesses are among the groups showing interest in land at Mitchell International Airport that formerly housed an Air Force Reserve base, according to city officials.

The spring closing of the 440th Airlift Wing opened up around 100 acres for new uses, according to Dave Misky of the Department of City Development.

But Milwaukee County officials already have said they want around 60 acres for eventual redevelopment into a new runway, Misky said. That would leave around 40 acres for other developments.

Given that scenario, it's unlikely that the U.S. Postal Service would develop a new regional mail processing facility at the airport, he said. He said a recent news report that said Postal Service officials were negotiating to buy the property was inaccurate.

Misky said the Postal Service needs around 80 acres for development of a new processing facility, which would replace an obsolete, cramped facility at 345 W. St. Paul Ave.

"We have discussed this property," Misky said Tuesday, speaking before the Common Council's Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee. "They (Postal Service officials) haven't shown an awful lot of interest to date."

Aviation-related education

Misky said "private companies," which he declined to name, have shown interest in the site. So have the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Milwaukee Area Technical College, he said. The two colleges are apparently interested in having aviation industry-related education programs at the airport, Misky said.

The city has hired a consultant to help prepare a development plan for the site. The Air Force could turn the base over to the community by February, Misky said.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said in October that a new major runway for commercial airlines at Mitchell could be needed by 2015 as airport traffic continues to expand.

The airport's master plan, approved by the County Board in 1993, calls for the development of a new runway on much of the 440th site and additional properties if needed.

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