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CHICAGO, IL

E-Commerce and Global Trade Drive Top Airport Real Estate Markets

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson ranks No. 8 in Jones Lang LaSalle 2013 Airport Index identifying markets with strongest investment potential


CHICAGO, March 19, 2013 — Miami, Chicago and Memphis are ranked as the top three U.S. airport real estate markets offering the strongest leasing and investment potential, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s  U.S. Airport Real Estate Index. The index, part of the firm’s U.S. Airport Outlook 2013, report  identifies these markets as bright spots in an otherwise turbulent environment for airport real estate owing to volatility in the air cargo industry.

“Fuel costs are high and total air cargo growth is stagnant but there are regions that offer strong investment opportunity,” explains John Carver, head of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Ports Airports and Global Infrastructure (PAGI) group. “Airport real estate investors should consider airports that benefit from growing trade with regions such as Asia and Latin America; airports that transport perishable goods (i.e., flowers, fruit); and those with close proximity to dense population centers that are high priority e-commerce delivery destinations.”

The report, which measures the nation’s top 12 airports against qualitative and quantitative criteria including cargo volumes, infrastructure plans and real estate conditions found that:

  • Two primary types of airport real estate markets dominate: airports dominated by FedEx and UPS hubs like Memphis and Louisville where ‘big box’ warehouse and distribution space dot the landscape, versus international passenger gateways like Miami and Chicago where proximity to dense populations drives efficiency and price. Only Dallas/Fort Worth falls into both categories.
  • Perishable goods represent a commodity with growth potential: goods such as fruits, vegetables and flowers require the speed-to-market offered only by air cargo when shipping globally.
  • E-commerce distribution growth is driving opportunity near major cargo hubs:  a nexus of parcel shipping companies and an ability to reach customers throughout the country in one or two days provides a competitive advantage for airport real estate, although investors should note, however, that on-airport property, though desirable, may involve complex public sector contracts.

Atlanta: No. 8 Airport Real Estate Market in the U.S.
Home to the world’s busiest passenger airport, where more than 90 million passengers arrived and departed in 2012, Atlanta ranks as the No. 8 airport real estate market in the United States. Like L.A. (LAX), Chicago (ORD), New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA), Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is an international passenger gateway airport with a higher percentage of international cargo than domestic air cargo (58 percent international vs. 42 percent at ATL).

The biggest capital investment at Hartsfield-Jackson in recent years is the $1.4-billion Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr. International Terminal, which opened in May 2012.

“The international terminal is huge for Atlanta,” said Steve Grable, JLL Senior Vice President of Port, Airport and Global Infrastructure. “With the enhanced ability to provide international flight connections, Hartsfield-Jackson plays an important role in attracting companies and decision-makers looking to establish global centers in both the office and industrial sectors.”

Among the notable trends and development activity in Atlanta’s Airport market:

  • Leverage continues to favor tenants in airport-adjacent submarkets, but landlord concessions appear to be declining.
  • Vacancy continues to decline from a high of 17.6 percent three years ago.
  • Cargo volumes increased by 0.6 percent in 2012 (year ending July 2012) to a total of 627,038 metric tons.
  • Owens-Corning signed a 1,044,288-foot-lease at 8095 McLarin Road south of the airport.
  • Speculative development includes the 560,000-square-foot Majestic Airport Center II distribution center.

Powerhouse Regions: Top U.S. Cities for Airports (see Fig. 1)
The *top markets in 2013 are ranked as follows:
 
1.    Miami (MIA)
2.    Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
3.    Memphis (MEM)
4.    Los Angeles (LAX)
5.    Newark (EWR)
6.    New York (JFK)
7.    Indianapolis (IND)
8.    Atlanta (ATL)
9.    Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW)
10.    Louisville (SDF)
11.    Anchorage (ANC)
12.    Oakland (OAK)
*These markets represent the top opportunities for investment in the real estate surrounding the airports. 

Top officials in the air cargo industry anticipate a return to growth. “The global economic downturn, rising fuel prices, and improving surface transport mode options have dampened air cargo growth,” according to the Boeing World Air Cargo Forecast 2012 – 2013. “On the other hand, long-term projected economic and international trade growth, the continuing globalization of industry, increasing adoption of inventory-reduction strategies, and ongoing renewal of the world freighter fleet with more efficient capacity should help world air cargo traffic growth return to a rate closer to historic norms.”

Additional Information
The full Airport Outlook report examines each of the top twelve airport real estate markets, analyzing their industrial real estate market, the nature of their air cargo business, and detailing local market trends.

JLL’s fourth annual seaport report, released in late 2012, illuminates the impact of transportation costs and global trade, showing commercial real estate surrounding major U.S. seaports outperforming the broader industrial market. 
For more information on e-commerce’s impact on the industrial and distribution center markets, see JLL’s 2013 Big Box Outlook, here.

Fig.1.



About Jones Lang LaSalle
Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE:JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. With annual revenue of $3.9 billion, Jones Lang LaSalle operates in 70 countries from more than 1,000 locations worldwide. On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services to a property portfolio of 2.6 billion square feet. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $47.0 billion of real estate assets under management. For further information, visit www.jll.com.

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