Chesterton Tribune



Gary airport partnership proposal draws interest

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GARY, Ind. (AP) - Representatives from real estate developers, major investment companies and elsewhere are showing interest in the city of Gary’s efforts for a public-private partnership at its airport.

A pre-bid meeting Friday for companies interested in managing and developing the Gary-Chicago International Airport drew representatives of Chicago real estate developer Elzie Higginbottom; William Blair & Co., an investment bank and research firm based in Chicago; and financial services company TIAA-CREF, as well as others involved in aviation, urban planning, real estate management and environmental design, The Times of Munster and the Post-Tribune of Merrillville reported.

Investors say the Gary airport, which has long sought to become the third to serve the Chicago area, has potential. So far, though, it’s been unable to attract overflow from Midway and O’Hare airports.

“If we win the right to run and develop the Gary airport, our goal is to accelerate the economic renewal of Gary,” Steve Forrer, who is heading up a joint effort by AFCO/AvPORTS and the Guggenheim Group to do both, told The Times.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told the investors their presence at the meeting was a sign it was a new day in Gary, which has been facing economic challenges for years.

“There will not only be development at the airport, but its footprint as well,” Freeman-Wilson said.

The airport issued a request for proposals on July 22, calling for a company that can show it can raise a minimum of $100 million in investment funds and be able to serve as the master developer for airport and non-airport property for 20 years to 40 years.

The airport is also looking for a new manager to handle all duties related to running it. That contract would be for five years to 10 years.

The joint city-airport committee spearheading the effort has emphasized the airport is not for sale, but looking for a partner. The airport hopes to select a winning bidder by the end of October.



Posted 8/12/2013