Established six decades ago by Lamar Hunt, founder of the Kansas City Chiefs, Hunt Midwest is a real estate development company with more than $2.5 billion of developed projects in multiple geographic markets, including more than 4.6 million square feet of developed and planned industrial space in South Carolina’s Greater Charleston and Greenville-Spartanburg areas. In addition to industrial, the innovative privately held company has expertise in developing self‐storage, residential, multifamily, senior living, data centers, and public infrastructure projects.
GroundBreak Carolinas recently caught up with Tony Borchers, Vice President for Acquisitions & Development, to find out more about the company’s business and how the Carolinas are benefiting from Hunt Midwest’s expansion into our region.
What services does Hunt Midwest offer?
Our team can deliver at every stage of a project, from site selection through entitlements to construction management. Our industrial team has completed two distribution facilities here in South Carolina and we also work with clients on specialized build-to-suit projects, with more than 56 million square feet of industrial space completed or under development across a half-dozen states. We also own and operate SubTropolis, a former limestone mine in Kansas City that already is the world’s largest underground business complex with 8 million square feet developed so far with plans to expand to 14 million total square feet.
What type of projects does Hunt Midwest take on and how does your team deliver them?
In South Carolina our team is delivering industrial developments with custom solutions that meet the technical needs of clients across the spectrum, from simple but efficient 3PL warehouse space to advanced manufacturing centers.
We prefer design-build because it helps us fast-track and streamline delivery, and we also have strong relationships with a stable of preferred general contractors throughout the Carolinas, including Seamon Whiteside and Evans General Contractors. We’ve completed and are building Class A facilities ranging from a 163,000-square-foot, rear-load facility in Charleston and up to a 1.5 million-square-foot, cross-dock building for Ace Hardware in Kansas City.
Many of my colleagues spent years in the construction industry themselves, which gives us the hard-earned experience to offer the full range of build-to-suit capabilities and quickly create more cost-effective solutions to clients right away. That’s because our team understands the implications their design choices might have upfront, so they can design, price, and build a solution without having to circle back through value engineering all over again. It also keeps those relationships with our contractors and vendors so strong and creative.
Tell us about some current or recent industrial spec developments in South Carolina.
This year our team completed Hunt Midwest’s first two industrial spec developments in South Carolina. Both are in the Upstate region and available for immediate occupancy. Fort Prince Logistics Center is a 476,280-square-foot, cross-dock facility strategically located just west of Spartanburg, and Evergreen Logistics I is a 258,801-square-foot, rear-load building that is the first in our new 200-acre Evergreen Logistics Park in Anderson County.
We’re also active in multiple developments across the Upstate and Lowcountry that are expected to bring more than 4.6 million total square feet of industrial space and up to 2,000 new jobs. Evergreen Logistics Park can support another 1.7 million square feet. Clements Ferry Logistics Center in Charleston Regional Business Center will be a 163,000-square-foot facility minutes from the Port of Charleston and Berkeley Logistics Park will include multiple build-to-suit or speculative options for up to 854,880 square feet just off I-26 in Berkeley County.
What do you have going on in your other geographic markets?
Beyond the Carolinas, our team has been extremely busy. This summer we officially broke ground with Missouri Governor Mike Parson on KCI 29 Logistics Park, our 3,300-acre megasite adjacent to the Kansas City International Airport that is now the largest shovel-ready industrial site in the state. We’re very proud that in just over a year we’ve been able to deliver the single-owner, fully entitled megasite with tax certainty and transmission-level utilities that allows us to compete on the world stage for large-scale economic development projects.
We’re also constructing new spec and build-to-suit industrial projects in Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; and Ocala, Florida. In all, Hunt Midwest has more than 21 million square feet of industrial space under development across the country over the next three years, including almost 3,000 acres of undeveloped land ready for build-to-suit clients.
In addition to our industrial offerings, our residential and senior living divisions are expanding one of our Kansas City senior living facilities, constructing a new luxury multifamily community and building out new home communities across the entire Kansas City metro area. Our self-storage division also is opening new locations in Kansas City and examining opportunities across the Carolinas. We’re very fortunate to find ourselves so busy and we continue to explore opportunities across the country for all asset classes.
What kind of clients does Hunt Midwest work with across the country?
Hunt Midwest has a very long history of working with global public and private companies in a variety of industries, including advanced manufacturing, logistics, e-commerce, automotive, pharmaceutical, and mission critical technology providers. Our 130 current tenants and clients, mostly located in our Kansas City facilities, have taught us an extraordinary amount about their cutting-edge, specialized needs across those sectors.
We work with major publicly traded companies like UPS, Ford, GXO Logistics, and Grainger, and we partnered for many years with Bayer and Pillsbury, one of our original SubTropolis tenants in the 1960s. Our team is fluent in GMP and cGMP standards after decades working with our advanced manufacturing and pharmaceutical tenants, including Ceva and Virbac. We’re also extremely familiar with government contracts and currently lease space in SubTropolis to the U.S. General Services Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and United States Postal Service.
How are you applying your automotive and aviation sector experience to the Carolinas?
We have deep connections to automakers and their suppliers and upfitters, including Ford, Knapheide, Utilimaster, and Standard Motor Products. We created “Automotive Alley” at our Hunt Midwest Business Center and SubTropolis facilities to strategically group dozens of auto companies upgrading, customizing, storing, and shipping vehicles to better maximize all their efficiencies.
That breadth of experience gives our team the ability to work with virtually every specialized need companies have today, especially in major Carolinas industries like auto and aviation manufacturing, so we’re excited to take on those same challenges out east.
Tell us more about how Hunt Midwest approaches economic development.
We’ve helped attract $25 billion worth of investment through our partnerships with economic development organizations across the country because we understand how to check all the boxes. Our on-staff experts have worked as site selectors, brokers, business development executives, engineers, construction managers, financiers, and lawyers, so they bring all those different perspectives to every project the company touches. When we share those insights with our partners – nonprofit economic development organizations, state agencies, local governments – the team can be more responsive to every stakeholder’s needs.
For our South Carolina efforts, we’ve added Morgan Mutert to our team as senior manager for business development and government affairs. She brings exactly that kind of potent mix of expertise from her experience with site selection firms, economic development organizations, and both elected and on-staff government officials.
We also typically build to own, so we’re committed to fostering long-term relationships with economic development partners and communities that will last decades. That goes not only for traditional local government and economic development partners, but also school districts, technical-vocational programs, local industry organizations, chambers of commerce, and nonprofits. A rising tide truly does lift all boats, so it’s important that we also lend our support to workforce development, other businesses, and charitable organizations that also help make for healthy, successful communities.
What distinguishes Hunt Midwest from other developers?
Our reputation, resources, and relationships set Hunt Midwest apart from the competition.
We have built a reputation for excellence over our nearly 60 years of experience across multiple industry sectors. Our team brings an entrepreneurial approach and extensive network to every project, looking far beyond simple concept-to-completion checklists to create custom and innovative solutions for every client’s needs.
We can do that because Hunt Midwest is able to marshal resources most other companies cannot. So many of my colleagues are industry leaders in their fields, giving us an enormously deep well of talent and expertise. As a privately held development company, we also have an entrepreneurial approach to deal structure and access to capital that give us unmatched flexibility and means to take on any project.
Finally, our relationships across the country – with business partners, tenants, public officials, and community organizations – help power our success and change the landscape of every community we touch. We hold ourselves to a high standard of professional integrity and service and build strong professional bonds by maintaining transparency, authenticity and following through on our commitments. As stewards of the Lamar Hunt Family name, we always take a long‐term view because it is more than just a project to us: It is our legacy.
From your perspective, what should be the top concerns of developers/owners?
Certainty is the most important thing developers/owners can provide clients today. The past few years have been a tumultuous ride for everyone, and clients are too savvy now to simply deliver a completed concrete box with certain specs. The top regional, national, and international companies want to see not only that every box is checked today, but that they will stay checked tomorrow, a year from now, 10 years from now.
We’ve taken a highly deliberate and collaborative approach to completing land planning, zoning, and incentives alongside the appropriate local and state elected officials so that everyone is rowing in the same direction. With entitlements in hand, infrastructure and utility capacity already locked in, and tax certainty established over the long haul, we can eliminate much of our clients’ guesswork and offer them unparalleled speed to market. Providing solutions that create certainty – in cost, time, and delivery – has been the difference maker for our team in several extremely competitive deals over the past year.
Tony Borchers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 816.459.4241 or connect with him on LinkedIn. Morgan Mutert can be reached at email@example.com and 816.459.4236 or connect with her on LinkedIn.