Going Up

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Area developments increasing value of airport property

More than 800 acres on the east side of the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport could soon be some of the most valuable commercial real estate in the metro area.

And officials with the airport have big plans to cash in on it by turning the acreage into a major hub for aerospace, manufacturing and other industries.

The Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) is nearly finished drawing up a land use plan for its roughly 1,200 acres of developable property.

The agency is also planning to bring on an independent consultant to help market the land.

The moves come months after the completion of a major stretch of the East Metro Parkway, opening up the acreage for development, and months after developers announced plans to build a new convention center and hotel on Airport Road. The effort comes two years after state lawmakers passed a bill attempting to take over the airport.

The case is now being decided by the federal courts.

More news for the area was announced recently, with developers unveiling plans to build a $400 million mixed-use project on private property owned along the East Metro corridor.

Airport officials are taking steps now to make its acreage more attractive to major developers, although no building projects for the area were planned at press time.

“Nothing is happening with the land now, but we’re performing work so we can put it into productive use,” said JMAA Chief Executive Officer Carl Newman.

At its recent meeting, the JMAA board of directors authorized the authority to issue a request for proposals from marketing consultants.

Previously, the authority brought on another consultant, Kimley-Horn and Associates, to help draw up the land use plan.

The authority has been working with the Ridgeland-based firm since early 2017.

Once completed, the plan will help determine the best use of JMAA’s undeveloped property.

Additionally, the authority is planning to work with a forester to clear approximately 30 to 50 acres near Jackson-Evers’ east runway and use proceeds from the lumber sales to begin installing utilities, moves that would make the parcel shovel-ready for business.

Said Newman, “We’re not sitting on our thumbs.

 

JMAA owns approximately 3,800 acres in Rankin County. The property includes the Jackson-Evers airport, which is considered part of the city of Jackson, as well as the parcels surrounding it, which are located in Flowood, Pearl and Brandon.

The land is located between Lakeland Drive and Old Brandon Road, and is bordered by Airport Road to the west.

Some of the land on Airport Road is wetlands and unlikely to be developed. An out-of-state firm currently has the option to lease a 130-acre parcel at the corner of Flowood Drive and Airport Road to build the Pinelands Lifestyle Center.

Other airport parcels along Airport Road are being leased by UPS and the Mississippi Air National Guard.

The Air Guard is leasing space from the authority for a $1 a year, and in return provides aircraft firefighting and rescue services free of-charge for the airport.

“The land is leased for a buck a year, but they provide for us what would be a very costly venture,” Newman said.

To the east of the airport, the authority owns approximately 807 acres on both sides of the East Metro Parkway.

In all, about 1,200 acres are available for economic development.

“Until recently, a lot of it was unavailable to be developed. Until the parkway was completed to Old Brandon Road, we simply could not get to the land,” Newman said. “The completion of the road has helped immensely.”

Right now, the East Metro corridor runs from Lakeland south to Old Brandon. Plans are to extend it from there to the city of Brandon proper, where it will tie in at Crossgates Boulevard.

Once that happens, the parkway will provide another route offering direct access from the airport to I-20.

 Tom Troxler, executive director of Rankin First, an economic development agency in Rankin County, believes the completion of the next phase of the parkway will make airport land even more sought after.

“It will definitely add to the attractiveness of ... the land on both sides of the road,” he said. “When we can advertise four lanes and interstate access, it makes it more valuable.”

Now, commercial land in the area sells for between $2.61 and $7.46 a square foot, according to commercial real estate broker Scott Overby.

Along Airport Road, a 7.3-acre site is listed for $1.59 million, or around $5 a square foot, while another seven-acre site is listed for $2.61 per square foot, he said. One site, a 1.77-acre parcel near the corner of Airport Road and Flowood Drive, has a selling price of $575,000, or $7.46 per square foot, he said.

Overby believes land values there will increase with the completion of a new convention center and hotel, as well as renovations to the existing Refuge Golf Course. Plans for the projects were announced last summer.

An August article found on the Dale Partners Web site says the $50 million project will include a “200-room luxury hotel and 54,000 square foot conference center.” The center will be owned by the city of Flowood, the article states.

“Any time you have additional development in the area, it can affect property (values),” Overby said. “Having the convention and meeting center and resort status is a positive for the area.” 

Newman envisions bringing the area as a major hub for aerospace and other industries. He said property will likely be leased, rather than sold, which will create a steady stream of income for the authority.

It was too early to tell how much the land would be leased for, but Newman said the authority would follow state procedures to determine land value.

To determine value, entities must obtain two appraisals, and base the value on the average of the two.

“There are folks who want to own the land outright, but there are others who would rather lease it and not spend their capital on land,” he said. “From an airport perspective, we want something that will perpetually drive income.”

The second part of a series on the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport.