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DALLAS-Ground lease negotiations are under way for the last 93 acres in the 400-acre International Commerce Park. The milestone was marked in six years, beating the original build-out projection by 24 years.

John Terrell, vice president of commercial development for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, tells GlobeSt.com that developers had to have a user in tow in order to qualify for the last four tracts. Because more than 18 developers had shown interest in the acreage, the DFW Airport Authority, for the first time, issued a request for proposals for the commercial land, which is along Regent Boulevard and just north of Texas 114 and Esters Boulevard.

“Because the interest and demand in that park was so high, we ended up on those last two sites by going to RFPs and the other two we worked with developers who had users in tow,” Terrell explains. “We have a very good relationship with our developers. We didn’t want to pick someone arbitrarily and show favoritism.” The decision also meant the authority could achieve a better lease deal, he says.

Perot Development Co. of Dallas got a 35-acre tract, of which 18.34 acres will hold the DB Schenker Dallas Campus. Terrell says the site will be taken down in three stages.

Perot also won bragging rights to 23 acres beside its 404,500-sf DFW International Commerce Park I, also situated on a 23-acre tract. The development deal is still at the bargaining table, but Terrell says Perot is planning a 400,000-sf project. And as the market knows, Dallas-based Crow Holdings is Perot’s equity partner.

Another local developer, known only as Twin Rose, is getting 18 acres for an estimated 250,000-sf project. As would be expected, the identity of the tenant is a closely guarded secret, for now.

Trammell Crow Co., also an existing stakeholder in the park, is picking up another 17 acres beside its 1.6-million-sf Trade Center project, which is owned by Seattle-based Kennedy Associates Real Estate Counsel LP. The extra dirt will support 296,208 sf–and the tentative plan is to divvy it into two structures.

TCC’s Trade Center now has four buildings, but ground will break on a fifth one in two weeks. The 243,500-sf distribution center is being jump-started with an 89,000-sf prelease, according to Steve Trese, a vice president in Dallas for CB Richard Ellis, who just landed a 213,392-sf long-term tenant for Trade Center 5 at 2580 Esters Blvd.

The 18,000-acre airport is 29.2 square miles, running nine miles long and seven miles wide and just a bit larger than Manhattan Island. International Commerce Park, projected to have 6.3 million sf at build-out, was the airport’s first ground-leased land for commercial development. The eastern boundary is Royal Lane with Texas 121 on the west, Interstate 635 on the north and Texas 114 as the southern line. Location, Triple Freeport exemption and Foreign Trade Zone status created a magic formula that lured developers into signing a 40-year ground lease for development rights with airport authority restrictions.

“We are at the forefront. There are other airports that have developed land, but I don’t believe they’ve done it to the extent that we have,” Terrell says. “Part of the reason is they don’t have the land assets to accomplish that.”

International Commerce Park’s “no vacancy” sign, though, doesn’t mean that industrial development is over at DFW airport. Terrell says talks are under way with City of Grapevine officials for an inter-local agreement that would open up close to 200 acres along Texas 121. He says “we’re making progress,” but the agreement is still being ironed out. In addition, there are several hundred acres in Passport Park and several hundred acres north and south of the east runways near Walnut Hill Lane.

The DFW team has spent 18 months developing a land-use plan. Excluding land earmarked for the airport’s future needs, Terrell says there are 6,000 acres available for commercial development. It’s no secret that future commercial development will include retail, office and more hotels.

So far, there have been 1,000 acres commercially developed at the airport, excluding its operating footprint. International Commerce Park’s build-out in six years instead of 30 is a testament to the region’s global positioning as an import-export gateway. “It shows just how much of a demand there is for this airport property,” Terrell says.

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