The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority is considering building a hotel with upscale restaurants on land it owns at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.
Meanwhile, efforts to establish an agreement with Majestic Realty to develop nearly 300 acres across from the airport did not come to fruition after eight months of negotiations. However, the airport authority did approve the business terms for the deal.
The potential hotel and restaurants site is on Airport Road, an old terminal next to the relatively new intermodal center.
To help achieve this goal, authority members at their monthly board meeting on Tuesday approved an advisory and development services proposal from Jones Lang LaSalle to market the property and land a developer.
The airport authority agreed to hire JLL, a real estate firm with a local office in Hanover Township, Northampton County, to create a market assessment and develop a strategy and other initiatives.
“We decided hiring a third party was prudent,” said Darren Betters, director of business development for the LNAA. “JLL has a lot of airport experience.”
Charles Diacont, chairperson of the board of governors, acknowledged that the proposal fit into the airport authority’s development of noncritical development properties.
“It makes sense to do this in an organized manner,” Diacont said.
The airport authority does not have the expertise on staff, he added.
The LNAA plans to issue a request for proposals in 60 days for attracting one or potentially more developers.
“I think there’s certainly a market where there’s a hotel right on the property,” said Tom Stoudt, executive director of the LNAA. “We know there’s really a need for some additional rooms along Airport Road.”
Diacont said the airport authority is hopeful the hotel would spur a couple of high-end restaurants on the property.
TALKS NOT FRUITFUL, YET
Last December, the airport authority announced the developer it chose to transform nearly 300 acres of airport-owned land into new space for businesses.
At that point, the organization hoped to finish negotiations on an agreement with the developer within 90 days. But officials have not finalized a deal.
Officials said Majestic Realty of Bethlehem still plans to collaborate with LNAA in negotiating development plans for 297 acres of flight path property across from LVIA. The site is along Airport Road near the intersection with Schoenersville Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.
The plan could include several buildings in a small office park, with the potential for light manufacturing and assembly, retail and restaurants, but officials did not have any specific details on what would go up on the land and did not disclose any of the business terms.
“At this point, we don’t have an agreement with Majestic,” Stoudt said. “Until we get Majestic to sign on the dotted line, it’s not official.”
As announced in December, the airport authority is not looking to sell the land to Majestic.
“We are really looking at more of a partnership instead of a land sale,” Stoudt said, adding that it would be a long-term agreement. “In my view, we tried to draft the agreement first, and we think we need to start with some basic terms and then draft the agreement around the terms.”
The airport authority essentially will create a new agreement with Majestic.
Once the airport authority creates and approves an agreement with Majestic, it could be another one to two years before construction starts, according to Diacont.
“We can’t discuss the details until we have a deal,” he said. “We are looking forward to moving forward.”
The land, which is agricultural, could encompass more than 2 million square feet of development.