Mesa Lab is Now AzLabs as City Creates New Tech Center
The city of Mesa, Ariz., is moving ahead with its vision for turning the former Air Force Research Laboratory into a science and technology research center, rebranding the facility as the Arizona Laboratories for Security and Defense Research (AzLabs) and hiring a McLean, Va.-based contractor to manage and promote it.
The city’s plan allows it take advantage of the secure lab space already in place at the 6.5 acre site, as well as the facility’s proximity to Arizona State University and the area’s existing defense contractor base. Mesa recently awarded a contract to Alion Science and Technology to manage the center and attract organizations involved in aerospace, defense and homeland security R&D.
“There are a lot of folks in the defense contract business that are very familiar with this facility and its capacity, and that’s a plus,” Dane Mullenix, Alion’s vice president of corporate development, told the East Valley Tribune.
The city had to overcome one major hurdle to retain the lab’s top secret security clearance; it needed to sign a lease for the property before the Air Force officially moved out. And because the city only found out that the lab was available after a deal for a federal-to-federal transfer fell through last year, time was short. With the assistance of the Air Force Real Property Agency, however, lease negotiations were completed in the last few days before the military’s departure last month.
The interim lease will expire as soon as the Air Force conveys the property to Mesa, which is expected shortly. The lab, located at the former Williams Air Force Base, has 97,000 square feet in nine buildings and space for up to 250 researchers.