News Article | 3/12/2004

Hillwood No Stranger To This Alliance

Riverside Press Enterprise03/12/04

HILLWOOD NO STRANGER TO THIS ALLIANCE PROFILE: The company converting the former base has Texas-sized experience in the process.

By ADAM EVENTOV / The Press-EnterpriseHillwood is marketing AllianceCalifornia as “a tremendous transportation hub” with these amenities: Air The project offers air cargo access through San Bernardino International Airport. Rail cargo It is close to a large intermodal rail facility. Trucking It has freeway access to Interstates 10, 210 and 215. And there’s more … It is close to commercial passenger service at Ontario International Airport. It offers a qualified workforce. It offers Foreign Trade Zone processing, seasonal distribution space and a first-class building program. SOURCE: HILLWOOD Transforming the former Norton Air Force Base into a major cargo hub for Southern California is not a job for everyone, but it’s a redevelopment project that Hillwood was willing to take. The Dallas-based developer built its reputation on turning 15,000 acres of Texas cow country into one of the country’s most successful cargo centers and is on its way to doing the same for the former base in San Bernardino when it closes a deal to bring in Stater Bros. The land is to be the new headquarters and distribution center for the Colton-based grocer. “You got the right company to do it,” said Thomas Bisacquino, president of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, a commercial real estate development group. Stater Bros. is the third company, behind Kohl’s and Mattel, to choose Hillwood’s industrial redevelopment project at the former base renamed AllianceCalifornia. Hillwood traces its history to the late-1980s when the Federal Aviation Administration wanted to build an airport to relieve congestion at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. It was an opportunity that Ross Perot Jr. could not pass up. The son of a billionaire businessman and former presidential candidate offered his land to the city of Fort Worth for the airport if the FAA would kick in 90 percent of the cost of a new airport that would become AllianceTexas. The project since has generated roughly 20,000 jobs and pumped more than $21 billion into the Fort Worth economy. By 2010, the company estimates it will generate another $38 billion for the area’s economy. In addition to attracting companies, Hillwood has succeeded by being politically adept at getting infrastructure to make the projects work. “First, success requires an understanding of the market, but you also need political savvy,” said John D. Kasarda, cargo and logistic expert and a University of North Carolina professor. Hillwood not only persuaded the FAA to fund most of the airport development, the company secured $27 million from Fort Worth for infrastructure and convinced the Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation to build a $71 million highway extension. AllianceTexas scored big again when it landed American Airlines as its first tenant. The carrier built a $481 million maintenance center. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. provided a third facet when it built a rail yard. With the roads, rail and airport in place, goods could be moved among trucks, trains and planes. Companies soon flocked to AllianceTexas. Hillwood broadened its expertise into urban renewal, or “brownfield” projects, when it cleared more than 70 acres of aging rail yard, city dumps and crop silos. The project, dubbed Victory, is home to the American Airlines Center arena. The Inland Valley Development Agency, which oversees the former base’s development, chose Hillwood for its experience, financial backing of the Perot family and willingness to work with the city of San Bernardino, said Betty Dean Anderson, eight-year agency board member and former San Bernardino City Councilwoman. “We were looking for experience and a string of successes.”