County to seek investors for land at airports
By Wayne Tompkins
The Miami-Dade Aviation Department on Tuesday got the go-ahead to begin seeking developers for land it owns at Miami International and Kendall-Tamiami Executive airports.
The plan Miami-Dade commissioners approved envisions projects of $4 million to $50 million — and perhaps larger — that would generate desperately needed revenue for the aviation department.
"We have got to increase our non-aeronautical revenues," said José Abreu, the aviation department's director. "We have debt from the North Terminal project, and we need to create investment opportunities for property that is now non-productive."
The airport is seeking public-private partnerships for 123 acres at Kendall-Tamiami and 67 acres at the Miami airport.
"I don't need developers — I need investors," Mr. Abreu said. He said merely leasing the property would not generate enough revenue for the airport. The greater returns would come from deals in which the department also receives a percentage of revenue the development generates, Mr. Abreu said.
The aviation department would not be an investor in the tenant businesses.
Ideas for several types of companies will be considered, but those with the potential to generate the most revenue for the airport will go to the front of the line, Mr. Abreu said.
The department is launching the project at a good time, said Ken Weston, president of real estate brokerage Kenneth Weston & Associates.
"That's a hot area," Mr. Weston said of land around the Kendall-Tamiami airport. "There is just tremendous growth in the population out there, and there are a lot of businesses that like being near an airport. The cost of land to the east has become so high, and, of course, there's just not a lot of land left."
In Kendall, office rental rates average $25.36 per square foot with a vacancy rate of 3.2%, according to commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis' quarterly report.
In the area surrounding Miami International Airport, the vacancy rate for office space is 8.5% and has been declining steadily from 19% at the beginning of 2004. Rents for industrial space near the airport have been rising steadily during that period, to $9.14 per square foot from $6.41 in 2004, CB Richard Ellis noted.
"Obviously, we'd also like the development to generate jobs," said Miguel Southwell, an aviation department development specialist. "We'll be seeking the highest and best use for these properties."
The parcels on offer are a mix of undeveloped land and existing structures in need of renovation, airport officials said. The projects would include both aviation- and non-aviation related companies.
Mr. Southwell said speculators looking to engage in "land-banking," or sitting indefinitely on undeveloped property, need not apply.
"We would like to see these properties developed in some minimal amount of time," in a range of two to three years, he said. "If certain milestones are not met we will take action to permit access by others to that property."