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With $270M lease deal, Coke looks to follow Pepsi out by DIA (Local Tips & Reviews)

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Swire Coca-Cola’s existing plant at 3825 York St. could be replaced by a new one near DIA if the city approves a lease deal. (Maia Luem)

Beverage giants are thinking alike when it comes to locating new plants in the region.

Six months after New York-based PepsiCo broke ground on a 1.2-million-square-foot bottling facility near Denver International Airport, records show a franchise bottler of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola wants to build one a short distance away.

Swire Coca-Cola USA, which is based near Salt Lake City, wants to strike a $270.75 million deal with the city to lease 97 acres of Denver International Airport land for 75 years, according to documents prepared for the Denver City Council.

Swire has six facilities that produce Coca-Cola brand beverages, which it then distributes to portions of 13 states in the western U.S.

The 1.1-square-foot facility by DIA would replace Swire’s production facility at 3825 York St. and the company’s sales center at 2145 E. 40th Ave., records show. 

Swire expects to invest $350 million to $500 million into the new facility and add up to 200 positions, according to the council documents. The company currently employs about 700.

The land is within a section of airport property referred to as “Second Creek Campus,” which the city is making available for non-airport-related development. The facility would be built north of Pena Boulevard and south of Canopy Airport Parking, east of Tower Road.

dia map

A map showing the location of the approximately 95 acres that Swire Coca-Cola would lease. (City documents)

The proposed lease deal includes three eight-year extensions beyond the initial 75-year term, as well as options that would allow Swire to terminate the lease after 30 or 55 years, records show. The company would pay $0.21 per square foot (or about $900,000 total) in the first year. Rent would increase 2 percent annually, with rent adjustments in years 31 and 56.

The proposed deal also gives Swire a right of first refusal to lease an additional 30 acres to the east.

The city-owned airport estimates that the land needs $50 million worth of infrastructure work to support the new plant. DIA would contribute up to $10 million toward that cost.

DIA’s land holdings comprise approximately 34,000 acres, but only 18,000 of them are considered “core aviation land,” where terminals, runways and other facilities already sit or are slated to be added in the future. 

That leaves 16,000 acres of “non-aviation land,” which includes property on the outskirts of the runways as well as land on both sides of Pena Boulevard leading up to the airport. That land is considered to open to private development, although  the council must approve all deals. DIA recently changed its process for development proposals, implementing a “rolling request for offers” that essentially allows developers to submit a proposal for any non-aviation land at any time. 

The deal with Swire has been in the works for a while. The airport received an initial inquiry in the fourth quarter of 2021 and entered into lease negotiations in the second quarter last year, records show. Swire signed a letter of intent in the fourth quarter.

Pending council approval, the city estimates the project could break ground in late 2025 and open in early 2027.

Swire’s facility would be about a mile north of the one Pepsi is building on 152 acres near the intersection of 72nd Avenue and Argonne Street.

Denver may give Pepsi $1 million to build plant near DIA

A rendering of Pepsi’s planned facility near DIA, which is under construction. (Courtesy Pepsi)

Although similarly close to the airport’s main terminal, Pepsi’s facility isn’t located on airport property. The company bought the site from Glendale-based Westside Investment Partners, which also owns the Park Hill Golf Course, last August for $49.2 million. The facility will be Pepsi’s largest in the nation.

New Pepsi and Coca-Cola plants don’t just impact the area around the airport. They also could bring significant change to the more centrally located properties the companies leave behind. 

In the case of Pepsi, the company’s existing local bottling facility sits on 30 acres at the corner of 38th and Brighton in RiNo, a neighborhood that’s seen significant redevelopment in the past decade. Pepsi sold that property to a Philadelphia-area real estate firm for $158 million last June, although the plant still operates for now. 

Swire’s existing plant sits on 17 acres at the edge of the Clayton and Cole neighborhoods. A company spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment regarding the company’s plans for that site.

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