Mesa’s Falcon Field Airport, known for its rich history and as a major economic engine for the city, is adding at least 20 hangars to accommodate its growing clientele.
The municipal airport, which serves private and military aircraft, announced last week that it’s preparing for a 23-acre development – complete with ancillary offices and manufacturing spaces.
Davcon Aviation, LLC, and Mesa Hangar, LLC, will construct the phased project on more than 1 million square feet of vacant city land on the northwest side of the airport.
“We are really excited about it,” said airport Director Corinne Nystrom. “One of our big missions has been to finish developing the airport with a strong presence of hangars and aviation businesses and this is exactly what we’ve been looking for. It’s a big win for mesa.”
The land will be leased for 40 years, and the initial design concept estimates that the hangars will range from 5,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet.
The number and size of the hangars will vary, depending on the preferences of the new tenants, and will offer high ceilings and wide doors.
The hangars will seek to accommodate corporate jets and specialized fixed-wing and helicopter uses, explained Lynn Spencer, airport economic development project manager.
“One of the things that is so exciting about getting the new hangars is that a lot of the inventory will allow us to have a new stock of facilities that can attract a different variety of businesses and size aircrafts,” she said.
“This is going to allow for more potential businesses and jobs to come here,” Spencer added.
The project is anticipated to cost more than $30 million, but because the airport is self-sustaining, it won’t be dipping into any of the city’s general fund.
The U.S. Treasury Department designated Falcon Field as an “opportunity zone,” meaning it’s an economically-distressed community where new investments could be eligible for preferential tax treatment.
Opportunity Zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation, according to the federal Internal Revenue Service website.
Because of this, the construction for the project needs to be completed within 31 months after the signing of the lease, said Davcon Aviation Managing Partner David Wakefield.
“We’re going to start on the northwestern side of project, which would be parcel that’s not located right off the runway,” he said.
“I think it’s setting precedence and that’s something the city and everybody should be proud of.”
With more than 750 aircraft based at the relief airport, it also houses 100 on-airport businesses that provide aviation services, such as fueling, inspections and avionics.
Nystrom said she believes the new developments will not only benefit the Falcon Field Airport — bordered by Greenfield, Higley, McDowell and McKellips roads — but the surrounding community as well.
“We have all types of aviation businesses here, you can bring an aircraft here and have anything done to it — you can have it repaired and get it painted,” she said. “What this will bring is potentially more manufacturers — and when we bring high-paying manufacturing jobs into the community, it helps Mesa.”
Mayor John Giles echoed Nystrom’s sentiments, hailing the new developments.
“Aviation and aerospace are key industries in Mesa and contribute a great deal to our economy,” he said. “Our talented workforce, quality infrastructure and customer-friendly business environment make Mesa an ideal choice for companies looking to locate or expand in Arizona.”
Construction is projected to begin in October and should be completed by November 2021.
Falcon Field opened in 1941 as a training grounds for thousands of Royal Air Force pilots, 23 of whom were killed and are buried in Mesa City Cemetery.
Mesa bought it from the federal government for $1 after World War II.
Last year the city rebranded a 35-square-mile radius around the airport the Falcon District.
“The Falcon District is anchored by Falcon Field Airport and encompasses more than 35 square miles of retail, commercial and industrial parks, as well as quality residential neighborhoods,” the city noted.
Bill Jabjiniak, the city’s economic development director, said the purpose of the rebranding was “to define the Falcon District as a vibrant, advanced manufacturing hub, ideal for medical technology companies, advanced business services and next generation aerospace and defense.”