Deft real estate moves around Dayton International Airport have led to the development explosion seen there today — five buildings so far totaling more than 2.7 million square feet employing more than 2270 people.
In all: A massive $92.3 million in capital investment.
Most recently, footwear company Crocs — one of the 10 largest non-athletic shoe brands — announced plans to move its North American distribution operation from Ontario, Calif. to a site near the airport, with plans to hire more than 130 full-time employees this year.
That decision marks yet another distribution operation planting a flag in Dayton.
Crocs joins Spectrum Brands, Land O’Lakes Inc./Purina Animal Nutrition, manufacturer Alpla, pet retailer Chewy Inc. and others in putting operations near the airport. Procter & Gamble has a distribution operation in Union, very close to the airport.
Meanwhile, PSA Airlines, based at the airport, is the only airline based in the state of Ohio.
In an exclusive interview, Dayton aviation director Terry Slaybaugh identified each new building, the size of each building and clarified where companies are going.
Perhaps most importantly, these developments have literally paved the way for the future, with gas, electric and other infrastructure in place to accept future development.
Slaybaugh believes more companies may be on the way. NorthPoint Development — the Kansas City developer spearheading many of the projects — continues to work with possible prospects, he said.
“We have enough pad space to build another 2.5 million square feet,” he said. “We could keep going.”
Slaybaugh identified two crucial actions leading to today’s development. The city approached the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2009 to release 600 acres around the airport. And then in 2011-12, the FAA asked for a plan to dispose of land once meant to act as a noise buffer.
Some land had been acquired in recent decades to protect surrounding communities from noise from Emery, which at one time had 67 planes flying from a sorting facility at the airport — then considered the largest air cargo sorting operation in the world.
Emery ceased operations at the airport in late 2001, making the “noise land” no longer necessary.
“That’s how we ended up with all this land we’re developing today,” Slaybaugh said.
Four years ago, the FAA approached airport leaders asking for a plan to dispose of that “noise contour” land. “They gave us a direction to dispose of it, which was timely,” Slaybaugh said.
The airport has only sold a few hundred acres to date, still owning more than 4,000 acres. About 2,200 acres are used for airport operations, with another 2,000 to 3,000 acres “outside the fence” under airport control.
Slaybaugh broke down recent development this way:
Building 1: Home to household and auto goods company Spectrum Brands, about 570,000 square feet.
Building 2: Home to plastic injection molding company Alpla, along with Land O’Lakes Inc./Purina Animal Nutrition, 510,000 square feet.
Building 3: Was built on spec, without an immediate tenant. It was going to house Pet Valu, a deal which fell through. NorthPoint is “actually negotiating with two tenants right now, and they feel like they’ve got it rented,” Slaybaugh said. That building is about 435,000 square feet.
Building 4: Future home of footwear company Crocs. 520,303 square feet.
Dayton North Building 1: Will be the home of pet retailer Chewy Inc., the biggest building near the airport, covering 690,500 square feet.
In all: Five buildings, with more than 2,272 jobs and a total so far of $92.3 million in capital investment.
Revenue from the development makes possible sewer, water and other infrastructure improvements — some $12.4 million infrastructure work so far.
“That’s another community benefit,” Slaybaugh said.