Businessman Lane Gaddy and a group of co-investors have staked a major claim in the future of Santa Teresa, New Mexico, by acquiring 2,200 acres in the booming industrial park 15 miles west of Downtown El Paso.
The purchase, completed Dec. 27, consists of 3.4 square miles of largely undeveloped property north of the Columbus Highway. It also includes 200 acres on the U.S.-Mexico border next to the Santa Teresa Port of Entry.
“It took a lot of energy to get this far,” Gaddy said. “We’re looking at selling a few of the pieces off and developing other pieces.
“We have two deals already under contract, which are shovel-ready projects that we should be announcing in the next few months.”
Santa Teresa’s four industrial parks are home to 61 companies that account for $700 million in investments and employ 4,200 people, according to Jerry Pacheco, executive director of the New Mexico International Business Accelerator in Santa Teresa.
In an earlier move, Gaddy’s Santa Teresa Capital LLC acquired 1,244 acres in the Santa Teresa Rail Park close to Union Pacific’s new intermodal and refueling terminal in November. He promptly sold it to Ironhorse Resources, a railroad and logistics company.
Gaddy, the CEO of El Paso-based W Silver Recycling and a high-profile Downtown developer, said he has plans for the continued development of Santa Teresa but nothing specific to talk about yet.
The properties come with residential, commercial and industrial possibilities along with water rights.
It will mean new jobs and economic activity on El Paso’s doorstep for Southern New Mexico’s hottest area for warehousing, manufacturing and logistics.
The 3,500 acres involved in the two transactions once belonged to William Sanders’ Verde Realty, which merged with IDI in 2013 in a $1.1 billion deal that resulted in no new investments or development in Santa Teresa.
“IDI was a corporation out of Atlanta that we could never get an answer out of,” said Pacheco, who has worked in economic development on the border for 25 years.
IDI, he said, was interested in Verde’s “vertical infrastructure,” in El Paso and around the state, not in land development in New Mexico.
Pacheco is optimistic about the development prospects now that Ironhorse and Gaddy’s Santa Teresa Capital are investors in Santa Teresa.
“Lane is a very active, young and aggressive business person,” he said. “He wants to do what’s good for the region, and we’re glad to see him come in.
“We haven’t discussed his master plan. What we have talked about is working together to try to get some more industrial users and more businesses into this area.”
Other El Paso investors who have made bets on Santa Teresa’s future include businessman and philanthropist Paul Foster and Gustavo de Andar, who heads El Paso-based Indel Foods.
“This shows the potential of Santa Teresa is no longer the potential,” Pacheco said. “The potential is now reality in terms of attracting investment from high-caliber companies.”
Gaddy said there’s a lot to like about Santa Teresa and its location between Union Pacific’s new intermodal rail facilities and the nearby port of entry on the western edge of Juárez.
“You have the space for a true supply chain cluster in Santa Teresa,” he said. “You have the UP site, which is really the driving force.
“Then you have a significant amount of contiguous land in San Jeronimo (Mexico) that is controlled by one group. So the two areas are really set up for a cross-border, manufacturing supply chain that is very efficient – more so than El Paso.”
While some have ongoing concerns about trade relations with Mexico as the U.S. presses for concessions in negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, Gaddy thinks Santa Teresa is in a good spot no matter what happens.
“If they work everything out, the way Santa Teresa benefits is very obvious,” he said. “But, if the worst case scenario would happen with NAFTA, what would happen is a lot of North American jobs would move back to Asia.
“That would then recongest our ports, which is the whole reason that Union Pacific opened in Santa Teresa in the first place.”
More trade with China would mean more cross-country rail traffic and more demand for warehousing and transportation facilities at and around Union Pacific’s intermodal facilities.
“That would probably lead to more growth in Santa Teresa,” Gaddy said. “We feel that in the geopolitical climate, which is obviously at risk, no matter what happens right now, Santa Teresa is poised to gain.”
Gaddy also likes Santa Teresa’s prospects when it comes to residential development.
“If you look at El Paso, particularly on the Westside, there’s only a couple directions that housing growth can take place,” he said. “There are some housing developments in Santa Teresa that have done well and are filling in.
“It may not be next year, but it may be in the next few years that that area of Pete Domenici Highway will be ripe for development.”
Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at email@example.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 122 and (915) 630-6622.