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MESA, AZ-The seemingly fast-growing Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport has received just under $9 million to expand its Charles L. Williams Passenger Terminal by 25,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet. Construction on the terminal will begin in a couple of weeks, with completion slated for October 2010.

A spokesman with the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport tells GlobeSt.com that the current passenger terminal at 6033 South Sossaman Rd, is a temporary structure, with plans in the works for a more permanent terminal on the east side of the airport within the next decade or so. “We’re in the design phase on the permanent terminal,” he adds. “There’s no infrastructure over there at present.”

Nor is there a strong economy or a solid airline industry at present. The sole passenger carrier is Allegiant Air, which opened shop at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway two years ago and has done remarkably well. The spokesman says Allegiant Air began with service to 13 cities. The carrier now serves 19 cities, with the airport being a hub. “In 2008, Allegiant was the only carrier that made any money,” the spokesman comments.

Area experts point out that the airport isn’t in line to replace Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International airport. However, once real estate developments start moving in the area of Phoenix-Gateway Airport, there could be an increase in passengers. Rob Martensen, who is vice president-industrial with Colliers International’s Phoenix office says what could drive more airport growth, especially on the passenger end, would be Gaylord’s proposed resort on the former 3,200-acre General Motors Desert Proving Grounds, now owned by DMB Associates in Scottsdale, AZ.

The current difficulty is that Gaylord isn’t going to break ground on the project any time soon, unless the company can raise more funds. On the positive side, “that’s the only result Gaylord has on the drawing board at present,” Martensen remarks. “They axed plans for their San Diego one, so this is it.”

Brent Moser, executive vice president with Grubb & Ellis/BRE Commercial LLC’s Phoenix office says that once Gaylord hits the “go” button on development, the resort will be in operation from 30 to 34 months of groundbreaking. Furthermore, he remarks, home builders are showing a great deal of interest in lots in that particular area, and are paying between $35,000 and $40,000 per lot. With the potential for another small city in that area, demand for air travel could increase.

“I believe Allegiant is likely looking long-term at what DMB is creating,” Moser remarks. “It would definitely factor into a long-term consideration of what happens at the airport.”

A third piece of the puzzle, he goes on to say, would be if Phoenix-Mesa Gateway lands another carrier. “If they could, for example, land Southwest, that would create a need for the permanent passenger terminal that much sooner,” Moser remarks.

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