Alliance growth continues with industrial space

When it took flight in late 1989, Fort Worth Alliance Airport was at the northern tip of what most in Fort Worth considered their city.

Twenty-six years later, Alliance Center North not only sees Ross Perot Jr.’s AllianceTexas extend north and east of the nation’s first industrial airport, but the mixed-used development also sees planners showing no signs of slowing.

“It’s all about partnerships, and it’s all about working together,” said Bill Burton, senior vice president of Hillwood Properties, developer of AllianceTexas.

Speaking at the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition’s April 1 monthly meeting in Fort Worth, Burton described the 18,000-acre swath of warehouses, runways and corporate hubs as big and getting bigger.

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Touted by civic leaders and developers alike for its $55 billion regional economic impact, 40,000 employees and 400 corporate residents – many of whom inhabit Fortune 500, Global 500 and Forbes’ top private companies lists – the already thriving property is about to become even busier.

Illustrating that claim is Alliance Center North, highlighted by two industrial warehouses. Plans to construct the first of the 1-million-square-foot warehouses as a speculative project were scrapped when LG Electronics contracted to lease the entire structure.

The company fully occupied the single warehouse, with the second warehouse maintaining still maintaining spec status.

“We have the 1-million-square-foot spec building next door, which is pretty scary,” said Burton, albeit confident at filling the facility.

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“We have a fair amount of competition in the marketplace, but we’re cautiously optimistic,” said Burton, offering no hints of prospective tenants who may be considering leasing in the building.

Meanwhile, GDC Technics of San Antonio is set to occupy a former American Airlines maintenance facility that sat empty for almost two years. The firm expects to begin operations by April 2015 and hire as many as 600 workers over five years.

“We’re excited about GDC coming in,” said Burton, equally enthused by a Courtyard by Marriott hotel coming to the northeast corner of Interstate 35W and Heritage Trace Parkway at Alliance Town Center, a 900-acre retail component of AllianceTexas.

Groundbreaking for the 127-room property recently occurred, with the hotel expected to encompass four acres and feature a 3,500-square-foot ballroom-conference space.

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GDC Technics

GDC Technics, an aircraft modification enterprise based in San Antonio expects to add over 600 employees in Fort Worth the next several years, with 100 coming this year.

With a 25-year lease for 840,000 square feet, GDC anticipates investing in major capital improvements and upgrades to the hangar, maintenance buildings, wash bay and parking lot areas formerly leased and occupied by American Airlines. American opened its multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art airline maintenance facility in 1992.

“The Alliance facility ensures enables us to accommodate our growing aircraft engineering, modification and systems development services in a world class facility” Mohammad Alzeer, GDC general partner, said in a news release.

The company plans to maintain its base in San Antonio where it has about 650 workers in its 340,000 sf Port San Antonio headquarters. The company also has a location in Munich, Germany. The Alliance site will be able to service as many as seven airplanes at once. It takes at least two years to modify some of the airplanes for VIPs, executives and high-level dignitaries, a key part of GDC’s business.

GDC was previously known as Gore Design Completions Ltd. The company changed its name in May 2014, at the same time announcing it plans to expand its business strategy to include turnkey engineering and modification services. As part of that strategy, in December, the company acquired PFW Engineering, now GDC Engineering to bolster the firm’s engineering and certification capabilities.

GDC Technics said in January it has backlog of signed contracts that exceeds half a billion dollars. “The current backlog stands at $650 million, and our target in 2015 is to increase to $900 million,” according to a company release. – Robert Francis