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Archive for October 1st, 2009

CLT Taxiway Extension Finally Progessing

Looks like the FAA Grant Fairy passed through town recently. CLT has been awarded $562,500 to design an extension of Taxiway ‘D’, the taxiway to the east of Runway 18L/36R. Taxiway ‘D’ serves the N.C. Air National Guard, the FBO, and the private planes based on the field.

Currently, the taxiway is only about half the length of the adjoining 8,676-foot runway. Planes that need the runway’s full length must cross the heavily-used runway to get on Taxiway ‘C’, which goes to both ends of the runway. Aircraft needing the runway’s full length include certain corporate jets and ANG C-130s performing formation takeoffs.

So obviously extending Taxiway ‘D’ is a significant need.

It’s also something that’s been talked about for at least the past, oh, 18 years. The extension was recommended in 1991 and 1995 capacity enhancement studies and included in the airport’s master plan, which dates back to 1997.

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Did Frank Whittaker Fire Someone at the Uptown Paper?

Just smoky rumors after a quiet Eyes Only visit to Charlotte last week by McClatchy’s VP for operations in the Southeast, Frank Whittaker.

We’ll find out soon enough.

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Eastland: Do I Hear $50m.? $500m.?

That was quick. Hours after the story broke that city of Charlotte officials were contemplating buying Eastland Mall for $40m. — wham — comes word that the purchase price might be $50m. I didn’t know hyper-inflation had set in already.

Seriously, city staff is just grasping at straws with a rationale and a price point for the city buying this hulk. I also detect more than a little misdirection here. City ownership of Eastland is being set up as the Nutty Uncle option in order to make a massive city subsidy of redevelopment look sane. How massive? Another $100m. would not surprise. In fact, let me give you the big picture.

City staff is bound and determined to scrape together enough tax money to start work on a streetcar leg on Elizabeth Ave. near the hospital. At the same time, some big, dreamy scheme for New East (formerly Eastland) will be unveiled, possibly with a large tax increment financed subsidy. From there is would only be natural to “leverage” the two undertakings into one, via a couple hundred million dollars worth of streetcar up Central Ave. Recall this tinker-toy, mix-and-match approach underlies the billion-dollar Northeast light rail extension, with UNCC at one end and the Yada-Yada Institute’s $45m. Jim Black Building at the other.

Zooming out further than, we see nothing less than $2b. worth of local capital and infrastructure spending the local gnomes have already penciled in without any real way for the public to resist the plans. Going once, going twice — gone!

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Another Foreclosure on Top of the Light Rail Line via RealtyTrac lists a parcel on South Blvd. beside the New Bern station as in foreclosure and soon to be auctioned. Expected price for what is described as a “multi-family home” is $1.5m.

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Ken Lewis Taps Out

No huge surprise that the Bank of America CEO is calling it a career after 40 years. Lewis, fairly or not, had become a distraction at a time when the company sorely needs leadership to hack through the entanglements of the Countrywide and Merrill Lynch deals.

And although NY AG Andrew Cuomo has already denied it, you can bet that Lewis’ departure dampens Cuomo’s zeal to take down Lewis in connection with the Merrill deal. The crusade for justice narrative gets a little ragged when the purported bad guy just wants to hang with the grand kids. This is why Brian Moynihan should worry. Cuomo has to target someone now, and who better than the guy groomed to be Lewis’ successor who happened to be a major player in the Merrill deal? Stay tuned there. The SEC’s probe will likewise refocus on Moynihan.

Of course, this would not be a big time local corporate change without Charlotte immediately trying to discern what this “means” for Charlotte. An honest answer — who knows? The nation’s financial sector remains fragile enough that anything is still possible. At the same time, BofA’s near future is somewhat set in stone — pay back the TARP funds, clear toxic assets left over from Countrywide and Merrill, play it safe, but wring ever penny out of customers.

No more wheelin’ and dealin’, buying banks, watching your colors spill across the map. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? No wonder Ken Lewis is leaving.

Update: Clusterstock calls Lewis’ departure “rushed” and wonders if the SEC is readying a personal suit against Lewis. Possible, but wouldn’t a retired Lewis just settle for some millions and move on? Would that satisfy the SEC?

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