A recent acquisition by a Chicago RE investment firm of Austin, TX airport industrial buildings shows one way to play the US infrastructure slowdown.
Relative to other countries where airport capacity continues to expand, including Canada, Singapore and Germany, US airport property expansion is flat. A The 2014 report by British consulting firm Skytrax indicates the ten best airports in the world are all located outside the United States. Reports like this tend to underscore what we can see with our own (red) eyes as we drag our luggage through our nation’s airports: outdated, dingy terminals, wretched parking and insufficient access.
The scarcity of new airports has attracted an interesting investment strategy: buying logistics buildings in these airports is a classic example of money following a tight supply. That’s the thinking behind Origin Capital Partners recent snapping up of five industrial properties in Austin’s Bergstrom International Airport. WSJ’s Barbara Dellolis writes:
Bryan Sullivan, a director of acquisitions at Origin, said the company ventured into the airport space because it sees limited competition, rising demand and constrained supply. The buildings have direct access to the tarmac at a time when the airport’s cargo shipments have been steadily growing due to rising e-commerce and international shipping.
The Origin deal highlights the value investors are placing on airport real estate.
“The investors are playing where they’re not making that much product anymore,” said Tom Kirschbraun, international director with JLL’s Capital Markets. “If they’re buying property on an airport, there’s going to be appreciation of consequence in controlling that kind of real estate.”
Industrial-property rents rise in proportion to airport proximity, Mr. Kirschbraun said. At Chicago O’Hare airport, for instance, “there’s a 30% increase in rent [for buildings] immediately around the airport,” he said.
Most airports are owned by municipal governments, which rent out gates and hangars to airlines, and storefront space inside to retailers, restaurant operators and other concessionaires. On the edges of the airport property, many airports also lease the grounds to private companies, which develop warehouse buildings to rent to airlines and cargo-logistics and handling companies. After the ground lease expires, the property reverts back to the airport.
Acquiring airport industrial property can let you ride the tail of the e-commerce rocket in a whole new way. Something to consider while you’re stuck on the taxiway. Again.