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A Hummel Report Investigation

Change in Direction

For more than a decade a proposed improvement plan for T.F. Green Airport, including an expansion plan of the main runway, has left some homeowners and businesses wondering if they’d have to move to accommodate the changes. This week: one Warwick business is suing the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, saying RIAC promised to buy its lot on Airport Road, only to pull out of the deal - leaving the business holding a piece of unmarketable property.

Click here to read the complaint.

Click here to read the RIAC response.

SCRIPT

Twenty-two years ago Airport Valet Inc. began offering a new – and novel – service for those flying out of the old terminal at T.F. Green Airport.
Horlbogen: ``We have a little booth with a red carpet, people would first drop  off their bags, and then valet attendants would be right there at the booth and the red carpet and as guys and gals were dropping off their bags, they would approach them to park their car.’’
Owner Bob Horlbogen initially had the blessing of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. But after a very successful first year, the corporation stopped allowing the valets to set up at the terminal, as it was trying to develop its own long-term parking business.
Undeterred, Horlbogen set up shop in nearby off-site lots, before eventually settling in five years ago at property he owned on Airport Road, directly across the street from the north end of Green Airport. What started out as an amicable relationship with the airport, has evolved into a legal battle, with Airport Valet filing suit last month against the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, saying went back on a promise to buy its land for airport expansion – and at the same time has been trying to force the company out of business, even though Airport Valet pays a 12 percent fee for the right to access airport property with its vans. That’s up from 4 percent when it started in 1993.
Horlbogen: ``We were told that, you know, Airport Road was going o be relocated and we had to find another location.’’
The airport had talked about expanding for more than a decade. And while much of that discussion focused on taking houses south of the main runway, Horlbogen said both the FAA and the airport corporation made it clear the airport expansion plans included taking Airport Valet’s lot on Airport Road.
Horlbogen had also asked about leasing this lot from the airport corporation, across from the Radisson. He says the corporation told him it had plans for the property and that he couldn’t’ use it. The lot, years later, still sits empty.
So Horlbogen scrambled to find another location near the airport; no easy feat as he needed five to six acres for parking. In 2012 he signed a lease for this property, just south of the airport entrance on Post Road, less than a minute’s drive from lot, to terminal.
He figured once he sold the Airport Road lot to the airport corporation, he’d be fine financially. But Horlbogen, in his lawsuit and in a subsequent interview with The Hummel Report, says the airport changed course right after he’d moved operations to Post Road.

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