$21 Million Development Site Proposed Near Port Columbus

June 12--The airport authority and a local developer have plans for a $21 million project just north of Port Columbus that could include two buildings that combine a warehouse with office space and two call centers.

The Columbus Regional Airport Authority's board will vote on the proposal for the four-building complex at its meeting on June 25.

"We think this is an untapped location and that this project will help meet our initiative to diversify our revenue," said Robin Holderman, the authority's chief asset and development officer.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the airport authority will lease the land to the Daimler Group, which in turn will construct the four buildings in phases. Daimler will finance, own and be responsible to find tenants for each building.

The first phase is expected to be a 100,000-square foot warehouse and office building that would be about 80 to 85 percent warehouse space and cost $5.25 million, said Robert White Jr., president of Daimler.

Construction could start in January, he said, and be completed next summer.

"We see the tenants as companies that are in the service industry in some capacity," White said. "Perhaps they have a fleet of vehicles that go out to install or for service."

The airport's central location would be attractive to these types of companies, he said.

Other buildings in the project include a second 100,000-square-foot warehouse/office building expected to be very similar to the first, White said, as well as two 50,000-square foot call centers. Each is expected to cost a little more than $5 million.

The first warehouse/office building would sit on 5.9 acres of the 22-acre site, and the ground lease price Daimler will pay is about $39,000 annually.

The annual ground lease for the entire site will be about $143,000, Holderman said.

"That's not a lot of money, relatively speaking, but it is more than we're getting now and the real upside is it could create development momentum around the airport," he said.

Also, the airport authority has the right of first refusal if Daimler opts to sell this or any of the four buildings, a strategy the company has done successfully in the past on several projects.

"It's a possibility, once they get it stabilized with tenants," Holderman said of purchasing the four buildings. "Depending on the tenants and leases, it could be a great investment for us."

White said selling the buildings is a possibility.

"They're looking to diversify their holdings and it makes sense for them to have us take the risk to build it and fill it up and then for them to purchase it," he said.

Once the first warehouse/office building is 80 percent occupied, White said, Daimler would begin construction on a second building.

White said it is too soon to say if the second phase would be a call center or a second warehouse/office building.

The airport authority and Daimler previously teamed up on the NetJets headquarters building just west of this proposed new project.

The airport authority leased the land to Daimler, which constructed the $21 million, 140,000-square-foot building and is leasing it to NetJets.

"Throughout that process we kept looking to the east," White said. "And now, we're piggybacking on the success of the NetJets project."

swartenberg@dispatch.com

@stevewartenberg

Copyright 2013 - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

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