Airport seeks broker to market ex-ATA HQ

The Indianapolis Airport Authority is stepping up efforts to reuse the former ATA Airlines headquarters at Washington Street and Girls School Road.

The authority plans to hire a commercial broker to find new tenants for the former airline campus, which includes more than 123,000 square feet of office and warehouse buildings on 16.5 acres.

A request for proposals, due May 10, seeks "creative methods related to leasing these properties to generate revenue for the (authority)."

The headquarters of what once what was the nation’s 10th-largest airline has defied attempts at reuse since ATA closed in 2008.

In 2009, Paul Kite Cos. attempted to land a research laboratory at the site. Instead, Kite found more interest in ATA’s former hangar and operations center, about a mile away. FedEx, Rolls-Royce and Aero Engine Controls lease space in those facilities along the airfield.

But the vacant ATA headquarters along Girls School Road is not in a traditional location for corporate offices, and the overall Indianapolis office market isn’t robust, said Mike Wells, president of REI Real Estate Services and former president of the Indianapolis Airport Authority board.

“It probably makes sense for the airport to hire a broker and focus on that property,” Wells said.  “We always thought if that building went dark it could take some time” to find a new tenant.

The authority’s website shows at least 10 other buildings for lease at Indianapolis International Airport, totaling 287,018 square feet. Many are close to the airfield and some have hangars. Others include a 27,165-square-foot building with 293 parking spaces that once served as an airlines reservations center.

The biggest unused space is the former Indianapolis International Airport terminal, vacated when the midfield terminal opened a few years ago.

With its proximity to Interstate 465, the parcel on the northeast corner of the airport likely will become home to air cargo- and logistics-related development.  Such a use is contemplated under a long-term land-use plan the authority unveiled in February.

The plan, prepared by aviation consultancy Landrum & Brown, pegs potential  revenue from redeveloping airport property at up to $63 million annually by 2040.
At Indianapolis International, the report outlined 50 development sites, or 59 million square feet, of leasable land.

Hiring a commercial broker to find a new tenant for the former ATA headquarters fits into that bigger land-use strategy, said Carlo Bertolini, spokesman for the authority.

Some of the most visible reuse efforts will likely be along the entrance road to the midfield terminal, where planners see potential for a gas station, retail and meeting facilities.

The authority intends where possible to lease rather than sell land and to look to the private-sector development community to assume financial risk on future development.

ATA ceased operations in 2008 after being bumped from a military charter contracting team headed by FedEx Corp. The airline, founded by George Mikelsons, had discontinued scheduled passenger service a few years earlier after being acquired by Atlanta-based Global Aero Logistics, with financial backing of New York investment firm MatlinPatterson.


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