The Port Authority of San Antonio (doing business as Port San Antonio) is a public entity created to redevelop the site of the former Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
The site's 1,900-acre (7.7 square kilometer) campus is the single-largest commercial/industrial property in Bexar County. Several public- and private-sector tenant customers lease former Air Force and newly-built facilities from the Port. The Port’s customers are principally engaged in aerospace/aircraft maintenance and completion (for both military and commercial/private aircraft), Department of Defense, logistics and manufacturing activities.
The Port is regarded as a notable example of base redevelopment, and in 2010 it was named Base Redevelopment Community of the Year by the Association of Defense Communities—a Washington, D.C.- based group that supports the transition of former military facilities to serve other public and commercial uses.
The closure of Kelly resulted from the U.S. Department of Defense’s 1995 Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) initiative. The base, which was first established in 1917 as Kelly Field, formally closed in August 2001.
As realignment and closure of the Kelly assets began to occur between 1995 and 2001, the Greater Kelly Development Authority (GKDA) was created as a base development authority in accordance with Chapter 379B of the Texas Local Government Code.
Rebranded as Port San Antonio in 2007, it is a political subdivision of the state of Texas. Its 11-member of board directors is appointed by each member of the San Antonio City Council. Roland Mower, Port San Antonio's President and CEO since October 2014, oversees day-to-day activities.
Though created by government, the Port is operationally independent. It has no taxing authority nor does it receive operational funds from any governmental entity. Its income of approximately $40 million annually is obtained through various real estate activities—including leasing, property management and construction management within its footprint. Annual profits are re-invested to support further redevelopment and related economic development activities.
The Port has leveraged its large campus - a multi-modal logistics platform - and 10 million square feet of commercial/industrial facilities to attract over 70 public- and private-sector employers. These tenant customers directly employ 12,000 workers and generate an economic impact of over $5 billion annually, according to a 2016 study by the Texas Comptroller's Office. Additionally, the aerospace companies located at Port San Antonio generate $1.5 billion in economic activity annually.
In 2015, the Port announced plans to focus its economic development activities to support the creation of 5,000 new jobs at its site by 2020.
Industrial Airport – Approximately 1,000 acres along the Port’s runway include several large hangars and workshops that support private-sector manufacturing and aerospace/aircraft maintenance employers. Many of these properties have direct access to Kelly Field (SKF)—at 11,500 feet (3,505 meters) in length, the region’s largest runway. The airfield is owned and operated by the Port’s military neighbor, JBSA Lackland. Port customers have access to the airfield through a joint-use agreement the organization entered into with the Air Force in December 2013. The majority of air traffic generated by Port San Antonio are aircraft that undergo maintenance or other modifications with one of the Port’s tenant customers. Air cargo and general aviation operations are also supported by the on-site fixed-base operator, Atlantic Aviation.
Principal tenant customers located at the Port’s industrial airport include The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, Chromalloy, StandardAero, Atlantic Aviation, GDC Technics, GoAeroMX, Forward Air Solutions and Indo-MIM.
Railport – Near the Port’s main campus is a 350-acre rail-served industrial park. Initially established by the U.S. Army in 1918 as Camp Normoyle, which housed a repair shop for military motor vehicles, the site was eventually annexed by Kelly Air Force Base in 1945 and renamed East Kelly. Today, it is known as Port San Antonio’s East Kelly Railport.
Redevelopment activities at the rail site began in 2007, with a focus on supporting logistics and manufacturing activities.
In 2010 the Port entered into a partnership with Watco Companies, a short-rail line developer and operator, which established the San Antonio Central Rail Road (SACRR). The switching operation transfers railcars from Union Pacific and BNSF Railway trains outside the Railport (from the adjacent South San Antonio Classification Yard, operation by Union Pacific) and relocates them to third-party logistics and manufacturing facilities operated by the Port’s tenant customers.
As part of the 2010 agreement, Watco also built an additional four miles (6.4 kilometers) of track within the Railport—allowing the property to grow its capacity four-fold, from a maximum of 5,000 railcars that could be processed per year to its current annual capacity of 20,000 railcars.
Principal tenant customers at the Railport include GBW, CIG Logistics, The OpTech Group, Fiesta Warehousing and Distribution, Bergstrom Climate Control System, Inc. and XPO Logistics.
Force-Protected Complex – On the main Port property is a 70-acre site consisting of five buildings within a fenced perimeter. Informally known as Lackland Annex, the office facilities totaling 690,000 square feet serve as national headquarters for several Air Force and other Department of Defense operations.
The complex is a result of a 2007 amendment to the leaseback agreement between the Port and the Department of Defense. Under the revised agreement, the Air Force relinquished control of several smaller properties it still occupied throughout the Port campus. In exchange, those operations - along with several new missions - would be consolidated at Lackland Annex.
Between 2008 and 2012 the Port also managed $60 million in upgrades to the former Kelly Air Force Base buildings that today comprise Lackland Annex. The improvements conducted by the Port allow the property to meet anti-terrorism force protection (ATFP) standards. Features include construction of a fenced perimeter and secure entrance gates, progressive-collapse protection, and redundant telecommunications and power systems.
Principal tenant customers at the force-protected complex include the national headquarters for the 24th Air Force (informally known as the Cyber Command), the Air Force Medical Operations Agency (AFMOA) and the Air Force Civil Engineering Center (AFCEC). Approximately 5,000 civilian and uniformed employees work at Lackland Annex.
Mixed-Use Properties – Approximately 400 acres at the Port are occupied by former Air Force office, residential and other mixed-use facilities. Included are various historic buildings, including a bungalow colony that served as officer housing in the 1920s, several duplex residences that are significant examples of 1930-40’s art deco revival, and the former base’s original headquarters building, which was originally erected during World War II.
The Port has repurposed former Air Force buildings and engaged in new construction to accommodate various office and residential functions.
In 1999 the young redevelopment authority built the Roberson Building—a three story, 80,000-square foot facility that originally served as administrative office space for incoming private-sector aerospace employers as the site began its transition from base to development authority. Today, that facility accommodates several Department of Defense contractors who support clients at Lackland Annex and elsewhere in the region. In particular, with the growth of the 24th Air Force / Cyber Command at the Port, several new tenants are vendors who provide cyber security support to on-site Department of Defense operations.
In 2010 the Port conducted $9 million in upgrades to a former Air Force office building. The 89,500-square foot facility in now certified LEED-Gold, and serves as office space for administrative and business support operations.
Principal tenant customers at the mixed-use center include Xerox, Fidelis Cybersecurity, Radiance Technologies, General Dynamics, Booz Allen Hamilton and IP Secure.
The mixed-use properties also include the Billy Mitchell Village Apartment Complex—374 townhome-style units of former housing. The complex was first built by private investors in 1949 and located immediately across the base. In 1960 the Department of Defense purchased the property and incorporated it within the fence line to serve as family housing for enlisted soldiers.
In 2010 the Port began redeveloping the property and upgrading several units—offering them as housing to the general public. Between 2011 and 2016 the Port upgraded 80 units. To accelerate to process, the organization will enter into an agreement in 2016 with Dallas-based Granite Redevelopment as part of a $20-million effort to rehab nearly 300 remaining units. Approximately half of residents at Billy Mitchell Village work for employers at the Port, while the other half are employed by other entities in the region.
The entire Port property is contained within a foreign-trade zone (FTZ #80-10), allowing for the deferral or elimination of import duties.
A U.S. Customs facility at the Port’s industrial airport allows aircraft from abroad to clear customers directly at the site.