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Massive Phoenix Project Gets Green Light

The expansion of Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport with a project from Caliente Construction is showcasing the benefits of its Foreign Trade Zone. 

Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport off the 202 highway

The $9M hangar and office development project that broke ground last month at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport was another signal that the airport is becoming an economic anchor for the growing 202 Highway corridor in far east Mesa.

The project is part of the 350-acre Skybridge Arizona business park, which is hoping to attract aeronautic and industrial tenants looking to take advantage of the airport’s rare Foreign Trade Zone agreement.

“The U.S.-Canada-Mexico Foreign Trade Zone at the airport is the only one in the country, and both the area and its surrounding region are really starting to reap the benefits of the FTZ,” said Terry Preston, operating principle of JP & Associations Realtors-Vantage.

The Foreign Trade Zone agreement places custom agents from the U.S., Canada and Mexico on-site at the airport, allowing businesses to use the airport to gain customs approval from all three countries and continue distribution in a seamless process.

The $9M project is headed by Caliente Construction, which is building the hangar and office building, and includes 10K SF dedicated to administration and training and 14K of hangar space.

The project also coincides with a current renovation of dining and retail services that will add six new dining options to the airport. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport had 1.77 million passengers in 2019, a record number, but the coronavirus scare has chilled its 2020 numbers.

“The connection to the recently completed 202 Highway gives us the connection to the West Valley to dramatically increase our passenger levels over the next five years,” Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport spokesman Ryan Smith said.

“We anticipated all of this growth, and while some did not believe us, we put ourselves in an advantageous position by taking advantage of a beneficial tax structure, the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus and one of the largest open land masses in the Phoenix metropolitan area.”

The airport has also bolstered its roster from 35 employers in 2017 to 45 employers in 2020, which handle the air and cargo shipping as well as distribution resources. They also benefit from being located in a Military Reuse Zone, with job tax credits of up to $10K per employee over a five-year span, as well as job training funds and additional lots if expansion is needed.

The Arizona State University Polytechnic campus serves as a recruiting haven adjacent to the air park, minimizing both recruitment and training costs for tenants.

“Growth is mitigating costs and the airport development will feature a lot of Class-A buildings as part of its expansion, similar to the Chandler/Gilbert market,” Preston said. “We would like to mimic the demographics for the Chandler/Gilbert market with a median resident age of 31 and an average household income of $90K.”

Despite the tremendous growth, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is still struggling to emerge from the shadow of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Both locals and tourists alike are still learning about the airport’s new renovations.

Stephanie McKelvie, a native of Mesa in the boating industry, flies once a month and still has never flown out of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

“In many ways it is still an afterthought to me, even though it is only 10 minutes away,” McKelvy said. “Once more of a commercial impact is felt across the city, with visible results to remind us of their presence, then we will be more apt to start thinking of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport as our preferred airport.”