“My view is Fed Ex – if they like the location, which I’m sure they do – will be here regardless of who the developer is,” said Browning. “We would not lose Fed Ex.”
He said some local developers interested in acquiring the land have been in contact with Fed Ex.
Everett said whether the authority is legally bound to stick with Rockefeller “depends on who you talk to. We have a master agreement with Rockefeller.” He said that agreement was approved in October 2012.
Last week’s meeting
On September 24, the authority voted to authorize its solicitor and executive director to finalize an agreement of sale with Rockefeller for 250 acres of land owned by the airport north of Race Street.
Everett said for that property “Rockefeller has certainly indicated to us how much they’re willing to pay as well as when they would desire to enter into a sale agreement with the authority. As soon as we can successfully negotiate a deal we will be in front of the board with a proposed acquisition agreement.” He hopes that will happen by the end of this year.
Iannelli confirmed that 250 acres is the land where Fed Ex wants to build its facility.
Browning said the authority should insist that land purchase be completed before the lawsuit settlement bills are due.
Iannelli said “there’s a very good chance” the potential Fed Ex property deal could bring the authority money from Rockefeller by next July. He said the sales agreement on that property is being reworked to include deadlines.
Browning said all the remaining unneeded land should be opened up to other developers.
But the resolution passed by the authority last week authorized the airport to negotiate a purchase option with Rockefeller for another 250 acres.
Iannelli questioned why Browning voted in favor of that resolution if he opposed moving ahead with Rockefeller.
Last week, the authority passed a second resolution making “all remaining flight path properties” available for sale to other developers. Those properties, which total 286 acres, are northeast of the airport in Hanover Township, Northampton County.
Browning said Rockefeller wanted to put large box warehouses on some of that land.
Iannelli said his board made a good decision by continuing working with Rockefeller “to compress that timeline as best we can” while simultaneously working with local developers by making other properties available to them.
$37 million shortfall?
Browning projects the airport authority will face a $37-plus-million financial shortfall by the end of 2015 if the land is not sold in time.
He said that figure is a total of what is needed by the authority to pay debts, settle the lawsuit and make significant airport improvements that have been deferred for years.
He said if all the surplus land is sold, the authority will come close to meeting that $37 million shortfall.
Everett, the authority’s executive director, projects a much lower shortfall totaling $5.6 million if no real estate is sold.
Everett said Browning’s higher projection assumes all needed capital improvements will be funded in the next two years, which probably won’t happen.
Browning projects the airport should spend more than $16 million on capital improvements in 2014 and nearly $12 million in 2015 – compared to only $1.06 million this year.
Everett expects the airport will continue receiving funding from the federal government, which was not factored into Browning’s figure.
“We don’t know how much is coming from the FAA or when,” responded Browning.
The airport authority projects an annual income of more than $5.37 million from LVIA in each of the next three years—before interest and depreciation. For 2013, said Browning, “We’re currently running about $300,000 below that.”
He said that estimate of annual income assumes LVIA won’t lose any more airlines.