Lehigh Valley International Airport Approves 300-Acre Land Deal
By Colin McEvoy on September 13, 2021
The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA) has finalized a land deal that has been four years in the works, one that will provide the Lehigh Valley International Airport a steady revenue stream while also allowing for responsible development on more than 300 acres of nearby land.
Under the deal approved on Aug. 31, LNAA will lease 308 acres along Airport Road in Hanover Township, Northampton County, to the developer Majestic Realty Co., which will create an industrial park including retail, office, and light manufacturing space on the land.
Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), praised the land deal, which he said could provide much-needed small- and medium-footprint industrial product for manufacturers and other companies.
“We consistently hear a demand for more industrial flex space in the 20,000 to 80,000 square foot range in the Lehigh Valley,” Cunningham said. “This deal allows one of our region’s prominent developers the opportunity to fill that need while also providing crucial financial support to the Lehigh Valley International Airport.”
Demand for this smaller-footprint space was highlighted in the most recent issue of the Lehigh Valley Commercial Real Estate Report, which stated that industrial buildings in that range have the lowest vacancy rate in the Lehigh Valley, but the least amount of inventory under construction.
“Generating additional non-aeronautical revenue remains a strategic goal for the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority,” said Thomas R. Stoudt, Executive Director of LNAA. “Today’s announcement marks another milestone in assuring approximately 308 acres of airport property can help to enhance the future financial self-sustainability of the LNAA and while continuing to support the economic vitality of our region.”
Under the arrangement, LNAA will continue to own the land, while Majestic will own the buildings it develops. The land will be leased for five years, with up to three five-year renewals made available based upon Majestic reaching specific milestones in the development.
Majestic will collect 60% of the revenues charged to tenants under the terms of the deal, while the airport will receive the remaining 40%, according to Darren Betters, LNAA Director of Business Development.
“We’ve been working on this one for a long time, and we’re excited that we’ve finally gotten this one to the finish line,” Betters said. “It’s an incredibly important project for the authority.”
Matthew Tuerk, chair of the LNAA board of governors, is only one of only two members of the 15-member board, along with J. Michael Dowd, who was serving on the board in the summer of 2017, when the talks for this deal first began.
“This is a national developer with a stellar reputation and ability to attract good companies to the Lehigh Valley that will be developing for a segment of the market that a lot of other developers haven’t made a priority to address,” Tuerk said. “It builds for the future of our regional economy, and also provides the airport authority a revenue stream that will allow us to do some really creative things. It’s a win-win.”
Tuerk is a former LVEDC Vice President of Business Attraction, Retention and Expansion, and is currently a candidate for Mayor of Allentown.
The land is located from Schoenersville Road to the area around Orchard Lane. Betters said the arrangement provides for several leases, and as Majestic establishes new buildings, additional leases will be established.
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