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From Site Selection magazine, May 2020

Scottsdale Airpark Evolves into an Urban 18-hour City

The Cavasson project at the Greater Scottsdale Airpark will include 500,000 sq. ft. of office space for Nationwide Insurance Co.
Photo courtesy of Nationwide Realty Investors


Colliers International in Arizona released its Greater Scottsdale Airpark 2030 Report in February, which highlights market conditions and predictions for the Scottsdale Airpark submarket. The area has become an “18-hour” city, with a growing mix of apartments, modern retail, hotel amenities and traditional commercial space. Scottsdale Airport, a former World War II training facility, gives the Airpark its name, but only about 5% of the companies there are aviation related.

The Airpark is home to about 3,300 companies employing more than 59,700 workers in 44.4 million sq. ft. of building space on 3,300 acres. More than 70 of the companies are in the high-tech sector, including Go Daddy Software, JDA Software and Universal Laser Systems. Business categories represented in Scottsdale Airpark include aerospace and defense, light manufacturing, healthcare and biotech and business services.

“The Scottsdale Airpark has experienced a renaissance of sorts, formulating its own urban character that is proving very attractive to employers,” says Jim Keeley, SIOR, CCIM, founding partner of the Scottsdale office of Colliers in Arizona. “Job seekers, employers and entrepreneurs are seeking live-work-play environments throughout the nation. The Scottsdale Airpark has expanded far beyond its light industrial roots to become a community where people live, walk their dogs, visit a great restaurant and work in a multitude of different industries.”

Highlights of Scottsdale Airpark action in 2019 include Tesla’s opening of its new, 40,000-sq.-ft. service center; Optima adding two more multifamily properties; Silicon Valley ed-tech company Shmoop University, Inc. moving to the Airpark; and Whish Body Products expanding its presence on Greenway-Hayden Loop.

Once a commercial submarket focused on light industrial and manufacturing space, the area’s popularity has ostensibly priced itself out of that product type. “We really need more office/warehouse space to satisfy pent-up tenant demand,” says Keeley. “Land prices have escalated so much in the Airpark that developers can’t rationalize building that product type here anymore.”

“The Scottsdale Airpark has expanded far beyond its light industrial roots to become a community where people live, walk their dogs, visit a great restaurant and work in a multitude of different industries.”
— Jim Keeley, SIOR, CCIM, founding partner, Colliers International Scottsdale office

Retailers have been taking occupancy of spaces in Scottsdale Airpark. Some non-functional space built in the past decade has been renovated to meet current tenant needs, often scooped up by specialty boutiques.

According to Keeley, “The self-storage segment of the market is likely over its skis at this point. We have nine projects with more than 500,000 square feet in the market already. Two more are under construction, and three additional self-storage projects are planned. This pipeline will probably exceed demand and create an over-supply of storage space.”

Supply and Demand

Demand for office space in the Scottsdale Airpark has outpaced supply, and the area needs some new development. The Axis Raintree is underway and will bring approximately 175,000 sq. ft. of new space just west of the Loop 101 at Raintree. Cavasson’s 134-acre project at Hayden Road and the Loop 101 will bring 500,000 sq. ft. of office space for Nationwide Insurance Company and a Choice Hotel.

Approximately 800,000 sq. ft. of new office space is on the horizon for the Airpark, but that new inventory will not fully satisfy demand. More new office developments will likely be announced this year, as the expanding economy leads more businesses to the area.

Rental rates in Scottsdale Airpark have not yet risen to the level of 2008, but building sale prices have exceeded those achieved during that time. During 2019, 41 different projects in the Scottsdale Airpark were sold. Approximately half of those were office properties, selling for an average price of $233 PSF, compared to an average $219 PSF for office sales in 2018.

Low-interest rates and low cap rates are working in favor of the real estate investment market. National leaders in commercial real estate are predicting stable or lower interest rates during 2020, as well as compressing cap rates

Written in December 2019, the Colliers report is labeled 2030 because it forecasts growth at the Airpark based on Keeley’s experience in the market since the 1980s. Among his predictions for 2030 are these:

  • The Phoenix metro will add another 1 million people.
  • Autonomous vehicles will be commonplace.
  • The Scottsdale Airport will be home to 20 electric planes.
  • The Greater Scottsdale Airpark will have 82,000 employees, 53 million sq. ft. of space and about 4,100 companies.

“The current pandemic makes everything foggy,” says Keeley, “but Arizona is very well poised to come out of this. We’ll continue to see a lot of California companies moving here — Arizona has a lot to offer.”

Mark Arend
Editor Emmeritus of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend is editor emeritus of Site Selection, and previously served as editor in chief from 2001 to 2023. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


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