Commercial port expansion prompts investment in Nogales

2013-12-08T00:00:00Z 2013-12-08T18:43:07Z Commercial port expansion prompts investment in NogalesBy Gabriela Rico Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It’s not as though he sees molehills where everyone else sees mountains.

Instead, when Nohe Garcia bought 215 acres of rolling hills — the last industrial-zoned land in the Nogales, Ariz., city limits — he believed the potential was bigger than the challenge.

Armed with a tractor, the Nogales businessman has been grading the land he recently bought, building roads and mapping out the future industrial park he plans to build.

His motivation was fueled by a recent visit of business and political leaders from Pharr, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, who went to Rio Rico to encourage warehousing and logistics companies to relocate.

“I want my town to have a chance,” said Garcia, 53, whose project is called La Loma Grande Industrial Park.

Garcia is among a handful of business owners who are upgrading industrial parks in anticipation of the increased trade coming through the expanded Mariposa Port of Entry.

The port is undergoing a $244 million expansion, scheduled for completion next year. The port currently processes between 1,200 and 2,400 commercial trucks per day and that is expected to climb to 3,000 next year, says the Arizona Department of Transportation.

That volume is likely to increase and is what has spurred the development activity.

Four warehouse developers have recently taken out permits to build three 100,000-square-foot facilities and one at 80,000 square feet, Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino said.

“This is the time,” he said, “because once that port opens up, you’ll want to already have your foot in the door.”

Garino refuses to be spooked by the efforts of Texas to lure the industry away from Arizona.

“I’m one of the few people who are not afraid of Texas,” he said. “We are a straight shot from the center of Mexico to the United States.

“There’s plenty for everyone.”

In that spirit, Garino has asked his staff to streamline the permitting process so developers can get to work sooner.

”We support anybody that’s coming here,” he said. “We’re open for business.”

Nogales City Manager Shane Dille said the combination of anticipation for the port’s opening and faster facilitation of business development has created a lot of enthusiasm in the border city.

“There’s been a lot of energy in the city for the past two or three years, but more so in this year than I’ve ever seen,” he said. “We have a lot of development things happening, both in the warehouse and on the retail/commercial side.”

Currently, the Arizona Department of Transportation is making improvements to Arizona 189, the state route that leads from the Mariposa Port to points north, via Interstate 19.

In the summer of 2014, a multimillion-dollar project will upgrade Grand Avenue — through the heart of Nogales, between the downtown DeConcini Port of Entry and the main artery, Mariposa Road, Dille said.

“This all bodes very well for the state of Arizona,” he said. “It’s time for that kind of improvement.”

As for Garcia, whose project is less than a mile from the Mariposa Port of Entry, he plans to construct 30 industrial buildings of 100,000 square feet. His property sits just west of Mariposa Road.

He entered into a development agreement with the city of Nogales, which assures water and sewer connections and flexibility of lot sizes to accommodate market needs.

La Loma’s planned facilities include security features required by U.S. laws for businesses involved in international trade, such as secured yards for trucks and separate security for the warehouse merchandise.

That has already piqued the interest of several businessmen who have approached Garcia about the project.

“It’s exciting,” he said.

Once the land is ready, Garcia plans to start putting in the pavement and utilities for the first phase sometime in the spring.

His goal is to start construction in the summer.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@azstarnet.com.

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