Intermodal Connections Take Off

The greater Kansas City area (www.kcsmartport.com) has the advantage of geography when it comes to potential logistics site selection decisions. Literally a few miles southeast of the geographic center of the continental United States, Kansas City, Kans., and Kansas City, Mo., straddle the Missouri River, leading to a unique regional perspective when it comes to economic development.

Bisected by the north-south Interstate Highway 35 and then by the east-west Interstate 70, the two Kansas Cities share a core transportation infrastructure. When Mark VanLoh, director, Department of Aviation Kansas City, Missouri (www.flykci.com), discusses projects at the airport, he sets them in the context of new developments in the other geographic quadrants as well. In one corner is the Richards-Gebaur Memorial Airport, a former air force base that is gaining a truck-rail intermodal operation. In another is the Gardner intermodal hub that will be developed by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad (Ft. Worth, Tex. www.bnsf.com). And then, there is the airport itself.

Trammell Crow Company (Dallas, Tex. www.trammellcrow.com), which was acquired by CB Richard Ellis (El Segundo, Calif. www.cbre.com) in 2006 for $2.2 billion, is developing a 640-acre business air park at Kansas City International Airport (KCI, www.flykci.com). Trammell Crow's airport services group comes to Kansas City with a track record of developing over 10 million square feet of office, industrial, air cargo and retail facilities in and adjacent to airports. It will begin work on 100 acres of the 640-acre site. The first building, says VanLoh, will be a "spec" 300,000 sq.-ft, distribution center.

The Kansas City Council approved a measure February 22, 2007 for Kansas City Aviation Department to provide up to $15 million in reimbursement to CBRE/Trammell Crow for site improvements. Putting the available space into context, VanLoh points out that KCI is three times the size of Los Angeles International Airport and over twice as big as Chicago's O'Hare.

In addition to space for growth, VanLoh describes the potential service area for the air park as extending from Denver to Columbus, Ohio, and from Minneapolis to Dallas, essentially the distance a truck can deliver over night from the airport.

The core infrastructure is "well thought out and well planned," says VanLoh. In addition to four interstate highways and rail service in the region, the airport itself has three runways with the capability to handle all current Boeing and Airbus aircraft, he says. They've even handled the Antonov AN124, the largest mass-produced aircraft. In addition, the green space barrier around the airport insulates it from residential areas and means there are no environmental or noise restrictions—no night curfews.

The business air park is not the only cargo project underway at KCI. VanLoh says another airport tenant is about to announce an expansion of its existing facility.

Elsewhere in the region, the former Richards-Gebaur Memorial Airport was transferred to the Port Authority of Kansas City in a $10.6 million sale. This paved the way for the 1,400-acre property to become an intermodal hub handling truck-rail intermodal shipments. The site already has a motor vehicle distribution center that opened in 2000. Now, CenterPoint Properties Trust of Chicago (www.centerpoint-prop.com) is studying the property for further development. Hunt Midwest Enterprises (www.huntmidwest.com), operators of the underground distribution facility known as SubTropolis, is also looking at developing an underground facility at Richards-Gebaur.

Near Gardner, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) acquired 800 acres of a 1,000-acre site proposed as a logistics park. BNSF, which is building a 350acre intermodal facility on the site, selected the Allen Group (San Diego, Calif. www.allengroup.com) as the developer. Construction should be completed by the end of 2008. The Allen Group will develop the remainder of the site for warehouse and distribution operations.

The Allen Group is also responsible for planning the Dallas Logistics Hub, a 6,000-acre site, the International Trade and Transportation Center (700 acres in Shafter, Calif.) and the 480-acre MidState 99 Distribution Center in Visalia, Calif. Kansas City isn't the only airport intermodal development currently underway in the Midwest. The Columbus Regional Airport Authority (Columbus, Ohio, www.port-columbus.com) has partnered with Norfolk Southern Corp. (Norfolk, Va. www.nscorp.com) to develop an intermodal facility adjacent to the Rickenbacker airport. The Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal should be operational in 2007.

"The new intermodal terminal will be a critical component of the logistics infrastructure in the Rickenbacker area that already includes an international cargo airport, a foreign trade zone, convenient highway access and millions of square feet of distribution and warehousing space," says Elaine Roberts, president and CEO of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.

Among other developments, in 2006 Schneider National's Schneider Intermodal (Green Bay, Wis. www.schneider.com) opened an intermodal facility in Marion, Ohio, linking the Ohio River Valley to Kansas City. Near O'Hare Interna tional Airport in Chicago, BAX Global Inc. (Irvine, Calif. www.baxglobal.com) opened the 14-acre BAX Global Chicago World Freight Campus. The 228,000 sq.ft. facility is U.S. Customs bonded and complies with Technology Asset Protection Association (TAPA) standards. It is also Container Freight Station bonded. The facility includes 84 truck bays and a 100-foot clear span for domestic crossdock activities.

Kansas City International Airport

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