Think it Only Happens in California?

Monday, December 20, 2004
Airport properties entice developers nationwide
By Robert Goldfield
The Portland (OR) Business Journal

While officials in Portland continue their effort to guide development of the 120-acre Cascade Station near Portland International Airport, other cities see airport opportunities as well. In St. Louis, the Airport Area Redevelopment Commission has selected a team of local developers — North Park Partners McEagle/Claycorp/TriStar — as the front-runner for redeveloping a 600-acre area east of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The commission wants to bring in office and light-industrial development to the area to create up to 12,000 jobs, $320 million in property and income tax revenue, and a total economic impact of about $7 billion to the communities, St. Louis County and the region.

Four other development teams that submitted proposals to the commission wait in the wings should the commission and North Park Partners fail to negotiate a development agreement.

Also in the Midwest, the Columbus [Ohio] Regional Airport Authority in late October asked 29 developers to detail their qualifications to plan and develop 715 acres on the south side of Rickenbacker International Airport and 285 acres at the western edge of the airport. Interested developers submitted materials by Nov. 11. The commission will ask a few developers to submit formal proposals, with a leading developer for the work to be identified in early 2005.

Al Iacavone, Rickenbacker’s development director, said the land could handle 12 million square feet of new development.

Officials in Pittsburgh want to attract bulk warehousing, light-industrial facilities and flex space to the land surrounding Pittsburgh International Airport. Hospitality and offices would be secondary uses.

“Almost every site has a mine-related issue,” Randy Forister, economic development director of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, said in October. He said many of the sites have either been strip-mined or have underground mines, meaning they would have to be stabilized before development could take place.

The Buncher Co., a Squirrel Hill development company, signed a letter of intent in late August with the authority to construct a 400,000-square-foot warehouse in the Clinton Industrial Park, which sits west of the airport. The warehouse will be the first of five buildings planned for the site.

After losing a decade-long battle over a controversial third runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, cities surrounding the airport are collaborating with the Port of Seattle on related projects that could boost the communities’ economies.

A recent report says that developing eight underutilized properties in the cities of Des Moines, SeaTac and Burien, directly adjacent to the airport, could attract new companies generating up to $1.4 billion in revenue and 9,400 jobs. Most of the properties are to be made available, or created, as a direct result of the runway project’s purchase of homes and clearing of land.

Companies attracted to the sites could include import distribution warehouses, fulfillment centers for Internet retailers and others highly dependent on air freight. The study was completed by GVA Kidder Mathews and other consultants, and funded by the three cities, the port, the Puget Sound Regional Council and the federal Economic Development Administration.

Burien City Manager Gary Long said any economic benefits for Burien will be bittersweet because the city is losing 500 homes and 1,500 residents to the runway expansion.