“Five years ago, the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority (PMGAA) was looking for a partner to develop 350 acres down on the south end of the airport,” explains J. Brian O’Neill, executive director and CEO of PMGAA. “We were looking for someone that not only shared our vision for development but had the resources to unlock the potential of this site.”
On Feb. 21, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for Building 109, the first of two 250,000-square-foot, Class A manufacturing and logistics facilities that SkyBridge Arizona plans to break ground on during the first half of 2023. Overall, the development is slated for 1.3 million square feet of tarmac-adjacent development, nearly 2.2 million square feet of non-aeronautical space and 270,000 square feet of commercial retail, office facilities and a hotel.
“Every time we have a groundbreaking here at SkyBridge, it represents jobs and further economic sustainability in the region,” O’Neill continues. “And every time we have a ribbon cutting, it represents a different set of jobs. Whether it’s an industrial building, hangar, a hotel or commercial retail infrastructure, every [groundbreaking and ribbon cutting] validates that we picked the right partner to develop this project.”
Cleared for takeoff
One of SkyBridge’s most valuable assets is its access to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport’s runway. Rusty Martin, general manager of Graycor’s Southwest division, has been involved in the project since the first phase, having already delivered 134,500 square feet of space across two buildings, including a Class A hangar with offices and four bays to accommodate aircraft as large as a G650 business jet.
“There are a couple of unique things to [building a hangar],” Martin says. “First, they’re typically a metal structure that was designed and prefabricated off site, then brought in pieces. We build the slab then the subcontractor erects the building. In a typical warehouse, we tilt up concrete walls off the floor.”
Hangars, Martin continues, are not marketed by square footage, but by the size of aircraft that will fit inside. The structures Graycor has already built at SkyBridge can hold the largest class of corporate jets and need huge doors to accommodate the size of the aircraft.
“These doors part in the middle and track back along the interior wall on something like a train track that’s embedded in the concrete,” he says. “There’s a lot of logistics around ordering, sizing and making sure the hangar doors function correctly, because they’re large and heavy.”