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Lunken Airport Site Developer Makes His Pitch: 'We've Got This Jewel'

Courtesy vR Group
Rendering of the proposed $20 million development at Lunken Airport expected to be finished in 2023.

The developer proposing a hotel, restaurant and aviation museum at Lunken Airport laid out his plan to an airport advisory committee Monday afternoon. Despite problems with flood plain insurance, he's still optimistic.

Guy van Rooyen is no stranger to Greater Cincinnati development. His family owns and manages the Madison Event Center. He opened Hotel Covington and its Coppins restaurant. And he's currently working on another hotel in what used to be the Covington YMCA.

Since the fall of 2020, van Rooyen has been planning the $20 million development at Lunken Airport. It would include:

  • 55 guest room hotel
  • 100-seat restaurant and bar
  • two event spaces
  • rooftop bar
  • aviation museum
  • service as a fixed-base operator for aviation services such as aircraft fueling, parking, maintenance and more

"Every sitting president has flown in at some point into Lunken," he says. "We can go on and on ... we've got this jewel." One of the first things he wants to do is to have the airport designated a historic site.
He envisions a walk-up food window so families can get food and watch planes.

A fixed-base operator would help increase aviation traffic. "The FBO represents a magnet for our guests on the property, for folks coming into the bar, the restaurant, the rooftop deck," he says.

Ultimately, Cincinnati City Council would have to approve the project.

One hurdle van Rooyen faces is the fact that the project would be in a flood plain, costing an extra $300,000 a year in insurance.  A member of the advisory committee suggested certification of the levee or tax abatements.

Van Rooyen hopes to know more in a month and wants to nail down a plan in three months.

If all goes according to plan, the hotel would open in 2023.