By Wayne Schutsky
East Valley Tribune
While all eyes are on the high-profile SkyBridge development at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Mesa’s smaller airpark is making headway on a business park project of its own.
Mesa officials expect to put out an RFP by the end of November to officially kick off the search for a developer for Falcon Tech Center, a proposed biomedical campus that would be home to medical, biomedical and medical device companies at Falcon Field.
Before that can happen, the city will need to receive environmental assessment approval from the FAA. The 30-day review period for that assessment ends this month, said Lori Gary, senior project manager for Mesa’s Office of Economic Development.
Falcon Tech Center will sit on about 70 acres of Falcon Field property west of Greenfield Road that is currently home to a citrus grove. The primary uses for the proposed project would be light manufacturing, research and development, laboratories and administrative facilities.
If all goes according to plan, Gary anticipates that design work will begin in summer or fall of 2018, with groundbreaking in late 2018 or early 2019.
“Since (the plot) is under Falcon Field Airport’s purview, we wanted to use it in a manner to support airport and generate revenues to help operate airport,” Gary said.
All revenues from the Falcon Tech Center would come back to the airport, which is financially self-sufficient, Airport Director Corinne Nystrom said.
Mesa first received permission from the FAA to develop the parcel for non-aeronautical use about a decade ago.
The city then conducted two studies in 2012 that identified the medical device sector as an industry with growth potential and made that the focal point of the proposed Falcon Tech Center. Mesa is currently home to over 25 medical device companies, including Dexcom, The Banner Simulation Center and Ulthera.
Since 2003, employment in the life science industry in Arizona has increased 45 percent compared to 12 percent nationwide.
“The life sciences industry has tremendous growth potential and we are excited to (foster that) in Mesa,” Gary said.
Based on industry feedback, the city plans to create a campus-like setting that will provide space for growth for Mesa’s existing medical device companies, which are outgrowing current facilities.
“(We asked) where can we put them?” Gary said. “We want to keep (medical device companies) in Mesa, but there weren’t buildings readily available to accommodate the operations they needed.”
The Falcon Tech Center would not create competition for tenants between Falcon Field and Gateway Airport because they target different industries and have different growth strategies, Gary said.
Unlike Gateway Airport, the Falcon Field project is on a relatively small plot of land and will have lots for customers that need up to 10 acres without runway access. Tenants seeking larger lots or airport access will still likely opt to locate in the Gateway area.
“This would be complementary and not in competition (with Gateway Airport),” Gary said.
Original story here.