D/FW AIRPORT -- The board of directors for Dallas/Fort Worth Airport gave the go-ahead Thursday for Patrick T. Perot, a cousin of Ross Perot Jr., to lease 23 acres for a new 400,000-square-foot warehouse at the north end of the airport's property.
Discussion of the deal reignited an old controversy that involves Grapevine and D/FW Airport.
The city and the airport were forced by the Legislature in 2001 to hammer out a tax-sharing agreement for the new Terminal D.
But they have never been able to agree to share the tax wealth for 2,000 acres of mostly undeveloped airport land in Grapevine that is north of Texas 114.
A 2.4-acre corner of the property that Perot and his Dallas-based Perot Development Co. aim to build on is in Grapevine, as part of the airport's International Commerce Park. Perot's development represents a value of $325,611 in annual rent payments to the airport and $800 in personal property tax revenue to Grapevine.
Much of the 575-acre industrial park is undeveloped land in Grapevine. That's because the airport board decided several years ago to not develop land in Grapevine so that the city wouldn't benefit without a tax-sharing agreement. Airport officials see the move as a "carrot on a stick."
Kevin Cox, the airport's chief operating officer, told board members at their monthly meeting Thursday that his staff is now interested in leasing sometime in the next few months about 90 acres of that restricted land to Trammell Crow Co. for development of four warehouses in International Commerce Park.
But he threw in two caveats -- the lease would restrict any retail development, and it would sit in a foreign trade zone. Both clauses in the lease would mean that Grapevine stands to get little tax revenue from the new development while allowing D/FW to get rental payments and broaden its nonairline revenue base, Cox said.
But a couple of board members balked at the idea of lifting the building moratorium.
"We had a policy in place," said Santiago Salinas, the board's secretary. "My concern is this is a full-fledged development in the city of Grapevine."
Another board member, Pamela Dunlop Gates, echoed Salinas' concerns, saying this has a chance to adversely affect the airport's owner cities, Dallas and Fort Worth.
But Mike Moncrief, Fort Worth's mayor, urged his fellow board members to go along with the plan.
"I don't see that our owner cities are giving up much in the long run," Moncrief said.
"If Grapevine is a beneficiary and we are able to still build the largest economic engine in the region, so what?"
Dallas Mayor Pro-Tem Don Hill, who was sitting in for Dallas Mayor Laura Miller at the board meeting, said he was struggling with what to do. He ultimately sided with more development rather than less.
"If you're not growing, you're dying," he said.
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Terminal D was built during the most volatile time in aviation history. Under its graceful, glassy skin, it's a steel-reinforced behemoth, augmented with almost $80 million in security features.