Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority and Rockefeller Group Development Corporation Complete Property Sale in Allen Township
May 20, 2016
Groundbreaking for FedEx Ground Hub expected in Summer
Allentown, PA – The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority and Rockefeller Group Development Corporation (N.Y.) have announced the completion on a property sale of 260 acres along Willowbrook Road in Allen Township, just north of Lehigh Valley International Airport.
“The Authority has invested a lot of time into accomplishing this deal which achieves even stronger financial sustainability for the Airport and allows us to make capital improvements around the airfield,” said Charles Everett, executive director, Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.
In 2011, Lehigh County Senior Judge Lawrence J. Brenner ordered the Authority adhere to a four-year payment plan to resolve a $16 million lawsuit filed in 1996 by Willowbrook Farms. The judgment ended a restitution dispute regarding the condemnation of 632 acres by the Airport which WBF planned to develop. The schedule called for the airport to pay WBF Associates at least $2 million by Dec. 1, 2012; $3 million by Dec. 1, 2013; $5 million by Dec. 1, 2014; and the balance by Dec.1, 2015. Judge Brenner identified 542 acres of land which were to be sold and proceeds applied to the debt.
The Authority was facing a steep uphill climb and began the process of searching for a master developer with the interest of bringing an economic boost to the Lehigh Valley.
In 2012, Rockefeller Group Development Corporation entered into a Master Agreement with the LNAA for a proposed $227 million FedEx Ground Regional Distribution Facility in Allen Township. The facility is projected to have 800 jobs in the first several years of operation and process as many as 30,000 packages per hour. FedEx Ground will also pay $40 million for road improvements from the site on Willowbrook Road, across Race Street and Airport Road to Route 22.
The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, Rockefeller Group Development Corporation and FedEx Ground finalized the $9.8 million agreement of sale in February 2015.
Over the last four years, the LNAA received unwavering support from Federal, State and local government leaders including U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, U.S. Congressman Charles Dent (15th District), State Senator Lisa Boscola (18th District), State Senator Pat Browne (16th District) and State Senator Mario Scavello (40th District).
Strong local oversight was provided by Allen Township, which regionally reviewed plans and project impacts, in coordination with Hanover Township regarding road and utility improvements. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (Penn DOT) and Lehigh Valley Planning Commission also provided support and assistance in the study and review of traffic impacts.
“It’s invaluable to have all these leaders from various levels of government in our corner every step of the way to help us reach the finish line,” J. Michael Dowd, chairman, Lehigh-Northampton Board of Governors.
The Authority received the Environmental Assessment Finding of No Significant Impact / Record of Decision required to release airport land for construction of the FedEx Ground Distribution Center. After thorough review, it was determined that the project will have no detrimental environmental impacts. This environmental assessment is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to release federally-obligated land for non-aeronautical development.
“We appreciate the FAA streamlining this process by designating resources for review and approval in an expedited manner,” said Everett.
The FedEx Ground center is scheduled to open in 2018.
Lehigh Valley International Airport is conveniently located near Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, Pennsylvania. Allegiant Air, American, Delta and United have 10 nonstop destinations to both leisure destinations and major airline hubs with connections to the world. LVIA’s nonstop destinations include: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Myrtle Beach (seasonal), Newark, Orlando, Punta Gorda and Tampa Bay. For more information on LNAA, visit www.flyabe.com or www.facebook.com/flylvia.