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Roanoke Regional Airport Commission eyes BB&T property

Roanoke Regional Airport Commission eyes BB&T property

County supervisors endorsed a capital improvements budget that also includes upgrades for parking and signage.

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The Roanoke Regional Airport Commission has proposed more than $6 million in capital improvements to the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport next year, including purchasing the nearby BB&T call center.

The commission would use its funds, as opposed to state or federal grants, to make the $2.3 million purchase of the 8.15-acre bank operations center located at 1410 Coulter Drive. The location would not be used to expand the airport, but would instead be leased for commercial industry.

BB&T announced the call center’s closure last year and it will go into effect this summer, affecting about 140 employees. At the time, bank officials did not say why the call center is closing.

The call center property has been appraised, and now the commission is waiting on various property inspections to be completed, said Tim Bradshaw, new executive director of the airport.

“We’re looking with an eye to the future,” Bradshaw said. “We want to expand our business landscape.”

Bradshaw knows he wants to use the property for economic development, but the exact plans are still up in the air.

Capital projects proposed for the next fiscal year amount to about $6.8 million, much of which will be funded by state and federal grants.

Other capital projects include conducting master plans for the parking lot and technology within the airport, as well as signage and pavement improvements.

Bradshaw presented the commission’s budget to the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors at a meeting Tuesday. Sans two members who were on vacation, the board unanimously approved the budget, which is really just a formality.

Roanoke County does not fund the airport’s budget, but appoints two members on the five-person airport commission. The other three members are chosen by city officials.

The money devoted to capital projects next year is about half of what was budgeted for this year. Most capital spending is based on how much grant funding the airport qualifies for, Bradshaw said.

“I think Mr. Bradshaw is a great addition to our airport,” board Chairman Jason Peters said. “He has seen many things that if we’d addressed them 10 years ago, we’d be in a totally different situation right now.”

Bradshaw is also hoping for a number of other airport changes, including starting direct flights to Dallas and Denver, rewarding frequent Roanoke fliers and reducing waits and delays.

Supervisor Butch Church said he frequently hears from his constituents that they’re excited for the opening of a McAlister’s Deli in the airport. The new restaurant is scheduled to open in August.

“I think that’s a real positive,” Church said. “I think that’s going to add another twist to the passengers coming and going.”

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