Miami-Dade County officials could enter serious negotiations with developers to build a $1.1 billion cargo hub in a multistory building at Miami International Airport.
The Miami-Dade Airports and Economic Development Committee on Jan. 11 will consider a resolution to enter into direct negotiations with Woodlands, Texas-based CCR USA Airport Management and Scottdale, Georgia-based AIRIS USA LLC for their patented “Vertically Integrated Cargo Community” (VICC). The measure could go before the full County Commission on Feb. 1. The parties submitted an unsolicited proposal to the county in October 2020.
A staff memo by Miami-Dade County Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales called the proposal “welcomed” and “strongly needed” because MIA is nearing its capacity to handle more cargo.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the growth of e-commerce, cargo shipments at MIA are projected to increase faster than originally anticipated and the county’s previous expansion plan won’t be able to handle the volume, he said. If it doesn’t add the capacity for more cargo, MIA would be at risk of losing aviation-based trade, Morales stated in the memo.
“The VICC will advance the development of modern, high-technology new cargo infrastructure at MIA, exceeding capacity demands for the next 25 years, and setting a new and high standard for air cargo throughput efficiency, security, and resilience on which Miami-Dade County can depend on for generations,” Morales stated.
The VICC would be a five-level cargo hub located on 29.4 acres on the west side of MIA’s cargo field. The developers said the $1.1 billion project would be privately funded and create 21,560 jobs, including 13,620 in construction and 7,940 in cargo operations. The developer estimated it would take four years to build.
The facility would use automated robotic systems and smart truck docks to move cargo. The cargo would be stacked vertically to save on space. The building would have 1.7 million square feet of cargo space and a capacity to process 4.95 million tons of cargo per year – nearly double what the entire airport handles now. It would reduce the need for about 157,000 truck trips annually from the county’s roadways, according to the application.
The facility would also include administrative offices for its employees.
While CCR’s U.S. division is based in Texas, its main business is operating airports in Latin America. AIRIS USA is a developer of aviation facilities, primarily in the United States and Europe. It has delivered more than 20 million square feet of cargo facilities.
Atlanta-based Holder Construction Co. is the proposed general contractor for the project and St. Louis-based HOK is the architect.
The project would require the demolition of three existing cargo buildings and the relocation of a fuel delivery facilities, so county officials must work out those issues with the developer to maintain cargo operations while construction of the VICC would take place. The financial terms of the lease and development deal also need to be agreed upon.
MIA ranked fourth in total cargo shipments among U.S. airports in 2020 with 2.36 million tons, a 2.2% annual increase. It also ranked first for international cargo. The county has been studying ways to increase the capacity for more cargo traffic at the airport and land in the area is at a premium.