OAK CLIFF (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas’ Executive Airport has landed a major new tenant. The Commemorative Air Force is relocating to the Oak Cliff airfield, where a news conference announcing the move took place today with nearly a dozen vintage aircraft as a backdrop.
Their whirring blades can be the sound of money coming to Dallas. The CAF staff is small, with 25 full-time employees, the group wants to do more than hangar aircraft here. It wants to build a $42-million dollar entertainment center that offers an interactive flying experience. This is in addition to traditional air shows, according to CAF President Stephan Brown.
“We’re planning on putting an air show on every year, WWII aircraft, so it’s a family-oriented entertainment event,” said Brown.
The Oak Cliff airport is located just ten minutes from downtown, and the city of Dallas has plans to renovate buildings and extend a runway.
“This is going to help us continue to Grow South,” Mayor Mike Rawlings told the assembled group of CAF volunteers. He sees the non-profit as kick-starting development around the airport.
“First is the tourism they’re going to bring. Their air shows bring 20,000 people at a time for weekends; they’re basically rock concerts for people that love their airplanes,” said Mayor Rawlings,
Other city officials believe the CAF will eventually attract tens of thousands more people. “Any time you get more than 100,000-200,000 people to visit there, it’s going to take more retail, more restaurants, and maybe build up a hotel,” according to Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins.
But some neighbors are worried. W.D. Anderson said local groups were not adequately informed about either today’s development or the airport expansion plans. “We don’t know what’s going on, it seems like it’s being ramrodded; it may indeed be a good deal, but we don’t know. The community is not enough involved in this.”
And he’s not sure whether renovations will help is neighborhood. “If we’re going to have longer runways, there’s only one reason to do it, and that’s larger planes. And larger planes are going to bring more larger planes. So there’s going to be a noise factor.”
But Mayor Rawlings said he sees this kind of criticism as a positive sign. “We need to talk to all the neighbors and they need to be a part of it. But I am so happy that we’ve got a development in Oak Cliff and neighbors. You want to have that tension, that’s what makes our city healthy because you’ve got development,” he said.
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