Written by Phil Cerroni
By Sissy Courtney
Almost a third of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) falls within the boundaries of the City of Irving, which benefits from taxes generated by development of that land and stands to benefit from future airport growth. John Terrell, DFW Vice President of Commercial Development, provided an overview of DFW and its economic impact on the region, including current projects and development plans as well as future visions for the airport. He spoke at Irving-Las Colinas Rotary Club’s Noon meeting at Las Colinas Country Club on Feb. 21.
The merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways is expected to bring an economic boom.
“It is a big bragging right to be home to the world’s biggest airline,” Terrell said. “Headquarters will remain here. There will be a lot more people coming here. American has downsized in some areas, but is expanding at DFW. We are very excited about the opportunities that will come out of that merger.
“One of the major benefits: We have a tax sharing arrangement with the City of Irving, the City of Euless, The City of Coppell and part of the City of Grapevine,” Terrell said. “Taxes that are generated because of development that occurs on the airport are split: one-third to that host city and two-thirds to Dallas and Fort Worth. The amount of taxes that are generated due to development is huge in this area.
“All the cities around us would like to see us develop the airport because usually taxes that are paid go into infrastructure, police and fire, and so those taxes are eaten up by obligations by those cities. The airport takes care of the infrastructure, the police and fire, so the taxes that are generated on the airport are encumbrance-free.
“One of our biggest successes falls within the City of Irving in International Commerce Park.” The site is over 400 acres which started development in 2001 and is now fully developed and fully leased.
Avion is the largest airplane parts distributor in the world and has its corporate worldwide headquarters located in the City of Irving and on the airport.
“Avion has expanded twice since they moved in here,” Terrell said. “They went from $500 million to over $3.2 billion a year in revenue. They have $21.6 million in payroll.”
Other companies located in International Commerce Park include worldwide headquarters for Dallas Cowboys Merchandizing, DHL, and Pratt and Whitney.
“DFW invested $37 million in the infrastructure for streets, utilities and grading,” Terrell said. “Developer improvements are reaching $300 million in that area with 3,200 jobs on just under 400 acres – $531 million in salaries – $6 million as revenue to the airport not including any of the taxes that are generated. Now, translate that 400 acres into 6,000 acres and that will give you an idea of some of what can be accomplished on the airport.”
DFW does future planning centering on airport operations and land use, and Terrell described future plans for the airport.
“We have 18,000 acres on the entire airport, and we’ve identified about 6,000 of those acres for development,” he said. “We’ve retained 12,000 that will take us as far into the future as one can imagine, and by the time you reach the future that this can accommodate, we’ll probably be landing in hovercrafts or ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ kinds of things where you’ll just be transported onto the airport.”
DFW’s next big project is Southgate Plaza located in front of their rental car facility which falls within the City of Euless.
“It’s going to be a mixed-usage development,” Terrell said. “We are getting ready to construct a 150,000 square foot consolidated headquarters where we are moving a great deal of our forces on site and into that building.
“We are also building a Hyatt Place Hotel, with 137-rooms. It is a $92 million project which will be owned by the airport.”
They will break ground on the Hyatt in May, 2013.
“We will have about six retail and restaurant pads that are going to be located at this spot and some future office locations,” Terrell said. “We are also moving the U.S. Postal Service on the west side of the airport to this site; it’s going to be a lot more easily accessible; it’s also a destination that will draw folks into this location. We have over 4,400 customers a day into the rental car facility, and this is going to provide a great opportunity for them for business meetings where (now) they have to go off to all parts to have those meetings.”