Amazon powers Falcon District take off in Mesa

·4 min read

Mar. 2—As it takes its name from Falcon Field Airport, it's not surprising that the Falcon District in northeast Mesa is dominated by aviation high fliers like Boeing, Northrop Grumman and HD Helicopters.

Now, a "ground-and-pound" heavyweight has joined the Falcon lineup — and leads a takeoff in jobs in the district.

Those who have become accustomed — if not addicted — to online shopping might be finding packages on their doorsteps even sooner, as Amazon has set up a "last mile" delivery hub in the Falcon District.

Though Amazon has thrown up huge warehouses in Chandler, Phoenix and Goodyear over the last few years, the global online sales powerhouse took its time setting up shop in Mesa — somewhat of a surprise, as this is not only the third-largest city in the state, but also the gateway to Queen Creek, Apache Junction and other fast-growing communities to the east.

"This is Amazon's first site in Mesa," confirmed Lisa Guinn, a company spokeswoman. She said the warehouse, which opened weeks before Christmas, is "more than 140,000 square feet and employs hundreds of full- and part-time employees."

Amazon is hiring more warehouse workers and drivers for the site at 3115 N. Higley Road.

Local leaders quickly incorporated the new operation into their pitches and are now able to boast Mesa is home to new-tech companies like Amazon, Apple, First Solar and Dexcom, with Google on the horizon, as well as old-schoolers like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Boeing.

Meanwhile, Boeing is expanding its operations in Mesa, with a new building across Higley Road from Amazon, making the two Seattle-based companies neighbors.

Those who live in the area or frequent Longbow or Apache Wells golf clubs can expect even more growth along North Higley Road south of the Loop 202.

According to real estate tracker Vizzda, Lexin Capital paid the Opus Group $36 million for the warehouse on the west edge of Longbow Golf Club. According to Lexin's website, "This mission critical facility is 100 percent leased to Amazon for over 12 years."

Perhaps just as crucial to the deal as the warehouse, the property Lexin bought includes 18 acres of vacant land.

According to Vizzda, "The site includes plans for three additional proposed industrial buildings."

Mayor John Giles said the click-and-deliver company coming here was really a no brainer.

"We've all been enjoying next day Amazon deliveries in Mesa for quite a while, so of course they were going to have large warehouses here," Giles said. "They have to keep up with the demand."

Though he said Amazon landing here is not a surprise, "nonetheless, we celebrate it."

He noted that, while Google and other data crunchers will be hiring engineers and programmers, Amazon providing hundreds of good-paying (starting pay of $15 per hour), blue-collar jobs is a welcome addition.

William Jabjiniak, the city's Economic Development director since 2007, said the Falcon District is ready to take off, so to speak.

He noted two industrial buildings going up on North Greenfield Road near the 202 and a 100,000 square foot warehouse set for Val Vista Road and Thomas Drive.

In addition to new hangars going up on the airfield, more development is going on south of Falcon Field Airport, including a Bemo building.

Jabjiniak said the long-awaited Home2 Suites Mesa Longbow is on the way. "We're opening in May 2021, but aren't accepting reservations yet," says the hotel's website.

And a few restaurants in the Falcon District will be opening soon, Jabjiniak said.

Boeing, the star of the district, employs around 4,500, with more jobs coming soon: "They are in expansion mode, under construction (for a) 165,000 square foot campus," Jabjiniak said.

That would add to the estimated 500 jobs at Amazon, which Jabjiniak said is also supporting the Falcon District micro-economy: "Drivers are stopping for gas, they're stopping to eat in restaurants."

Councilman David Luna, who has represented the Falcon District and the rest of District 5 for eight years, said the Longbow area is "constantly looking for future development. It's a very exciting area."

Though he noted it's hard to challenge District 6 in southeast Mesa, which still has huge chunks of developable land, District 5 will be growing fast this year:

"We do have a lot of space for development."