Apr. 12--DALLAS -- For almost four years, California developers have been quietly assembling 6,000 acres south of Dallas. They hope to turn the land into a warehouse and distribution center next to the Union Pacific terminal in Wilmer that they believe will rival the giant Alliance development in north Fort Worth.
"We think it will emerge as the most vibrant new logistics park in North America," said Edward Romanov Jr., president and chief operating officer of the development company, The Allen Group.
An official unveiling of the development plans is scheduled for Friday at the Lancaster Municipal Airport, next to the site, which stretches over Dallas, Wilmer, Lancaster and Hutchins.
Top Allen executives said Wednesday that their company's Dallas Logistics Hub will be the first inland port in North America to be served by terminals of two competing rail lines. The developer is still in negotiations with BNSF for that second "intermodal" terminal, designed to link truck, train and oceangoing containers.
"Which would place us as the only logistics park in North America that has two intermodals, let alone two of the largest freight carriers bringing in containers from Asia," Romanov said.
The logistics park developers plan to connect the two terminals with a rail line, providing direct rail access to more buildings in the development. But more importantly, Romanov said, having two competing rail companies at the site could mean customers would get more negotiating power on price and more service, he said.
They also plan to one day help adapt the Lancaster airport to support cargo planes. The runway would need to be lengthened and converted to concrete from asphalt to handle heavy planes. But whether that happens will not affect plans to move forward, the developers said. Air cargo is only a small piece of the projected goods that will flow through the logistics hub.
"That is going to be icing on the cake as far as what is going to drive development in this area," said Richard Allen, the chief executive. "We're not building big distribution centers to hold computer chips that are coming in on airplanes."
But they also believe that they have other advantages over Alliance because of the development's abundance of relatively inexpensive land and a large labor pool.
The project is within the bounds of four major highways: the Interstate 35E NAFTA corridor, Interstate 45's link to the Port of Houston, Interstate 20's straight shot to the Port of Long Beach in California, and the proposed Loop 9, which will encircle the Metroplex.
"This is what I call 'the golden box of logistics,'" Allen said.
Mike Berry, president of Hillwood Properties, said even with the advantages touted by the Dallas Logistics Hub, Alliance has an enormous head start.
It took Hillwood seven years to get the major components, such as highways, in place. And site selectors who need to move now look at what is currently in place, not what will be there in the future.
"What's in place today, at least the customers we talk to, is essential," Berry said.
Ross Perot Jr., founder of the Alliance development company Hillwood, called the plans for this logistics and warehouse center a "direct threat" to the 18,000-acre Alliance last October.
"I would say 'threat' is a bit of a harsh description," Romanov said. "Certainly we'll be a major competitor. I think there's still a viable marketplace for both projects."
Allen and Romanov point to the sharp growth of imports from Asia. There is more than enough room for Alliance, the Dallas Logistics hub and other D-FW distribution hubs to prosper. There's so much potential demand, Allen said, that it has to go somewhere.
They believe that their development has an enormous advantage over Alliance because of its proximity to three interstates, as well as the possibility of having two rail terminals.