The industrial Glen Harbor Airpark northeast of the Glendale Municipal Airport has seen a development boom in the last year and half. City officials say the spark in activity is thanks in large part to its proximity to Glendale’s Sports and Entertainment District.
In January 2019, there were 17 privately-owned vacant parcels in the airpark northwest of Glendale Avenue and Loop 101. A year and a half later, 16 of those 17 properties are either under construction or planning construction.
Many of the airpark’s main tenants have opened recently, too. Conair opened a distribution center in 2017, Dignity Health opened the St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center in 2014, Credit Union West opened a corporate office there in 2019, and Swire Coca-Cola has expanded its bottling facility three times since 2016.
The airpark has been zoned as a Planned Area Development for light industrial use since 1986, but much that development didn’t come until recently.
“The Glen Harbor Airpark has been around for decades, and we’ve been working hard to try to entice development and entice the open market to invest in Glendale here in this location, and over the last year or so we’ve been pretty successful in doing that,” said Glendale Economic Director Brian Friedman.
LGE Design Build is developing a 389,000-square-foot industrial and office complex called Northern 101 Commerce Center across four different parcels in the airpark.
“As the Glendale industrial market continues to boom, many of the already-standing spaces are functional, but LGE sought to bring modern design to the area in addition to seamless functionality,” stated LGE Design Group president and CEO David Sellers in a news release. “Northern 101 Commerce Center is built with e-commerce and distribution at the forefront, while LGE Design Group’s masterful design creates an eye-catching first impression for future tenants.”
Mack is near completion on construction of a 180,000-square-foot light industrial building northeast of New River Road and Glendale Avenue. The facility is being built on spec and is welcoming tenants.
Mr. Friedman and the Assistant Director of Economic Development Jessi Pederson say a big draw for industrial companies to the airpark has been buildout of Glendale’s nearby Sports and Entertainment District, which includes the football stadium, hockey arena, Westgate, Tanger Outlets, the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino, Cabela’s, Topgolf and Camelback Ranch.
“We don’t often think about that, that an entertainment or a sports district or an employment district would be attractive for light industrial,” Ms. Pederson said, “but realistically when you’re about to put hundreds of employees inside those larger buildings, they want those opportunities for their employees to go to lunch, they want them to have opportunity after work. And so, we really recognize that what’s been built in this area has proved very, very attractive and successful for the airpark to develop as well.”
Mr. Friedman, who worked as a project manager for the hockey arena and football stadium, which opened in 2003 and 2006, respectively, said drawing companies to the then mostly undeveloped area is a night-and-day contrast to the booming district it’s become today.
“When I was standing out there in a field kind of just in a bunch of alfalfa or corn or whatever it was, soybeans, etc., it was really different than it is today. And getting people to develop out there was much harder,” Mr. Friedman said. “And today, you know it’s nice that, while we go out and we seek individual end users and we push hard for them to join our community, at the same time our phone is also ringing consistently, which is also a pretty great thing to have happen for our community.”
Glendale’s Sports and Entertainment District is not done adding more to offer. Mr. Friedman noted there are multiple hotels, commercial centers and multifamily residential developments underway in the area. The Maricopa Association of Governments estimates the district provides 18,000 full-time jobs, but projects that number will grow to 66,000 by 2040.
Few of the developments in the past year and a half have had to go through public process, since they are developing for zoning uses already approved for the business park. Ms. Pederson said that factor added to the attraction of the airpark, as companies didn’t have to go through the time and cost of asking the city for a general plan and/or zoning change.
“We’d like to give ourselves credit, and we certainly worked hard on this, but the area in and of itself was attractive for this use right now in the market,” Ms. Pederson said.