Tech companies seem to do it all these days. From artificial intelligence and grocery stores to autonomous cars and fitness, what used to be a focus on data storage and floppy disks has now turned into a “what-else-can-we-try?” attitude. One thing tech companies aren’t really known for is farming. That’s what makes the latest gigantic land sale in the Greater Phoenix area so interesting.
Microsoft–yes, that Microsoft–now finds itself the proud owner of more than 270 acres of prime farmland in Goodyear. At a cost of nearly $48 million, the land grab opens a number of possibilities for the booming SIlicon Desert. Located on the southwest corner of Maricopa County 85 and Lower Buckeye Road in the Goodyear AirPark, the land is a sizeable space for the company.
Carefree Partners Investments, headed up by president Richard West, sold the land to Microsoft. West says the company didn’t divulge too much about their plans for the land.
“Our intent was to attract like a Microsoft someday. We wanted to see if we could build a business park and campus, and really hoping for something to do with tech,” says West, whose company bought the land more than a decade ago.
The company initially bought the first portion in 2003 and then finished up in 2007 before the financial market and subsequent markets took a hit.
A big trend among the tech industry is to buy up land and turn giant warehouses or buildings into full-on data fortresses, or build on what was formerly agriculture, like Microsoft is expected to do in Goodyear. Apple is revamping a row of warehouses in southeast Mesa, converting them into a $2 billion data center. The trend is targeting Arizona as prime real estate to buy big and go big under one roof.
Phoenix is currently in the middle of record-breaking data construction projects. It’s ranking higher and higher when it comes to being an active data center market in the U.S., according to CBRE Group’s Data Center Trends Report.
Besides the draw of more affordable and available land, tech companies like Microsoft and Apple see the area as a potential goldmine with access to clean power, no major natural disasters (except the occasional dust storms), and connectivity to good fiber.
Additionally, the Phoenix area comes with robust incentives and lower costs than other cities. Big tech is definitely growing beyond its traditional homes Silicon Valley, Seattle or Austin.
“Clearly the land compared to Silicon Valley or Seattle out here is a bargain,” adds West. “[Microsoft] would pay multiple times in those areas. What’s equally compelling about the area is that you have power, because anything involving a campus needs to have power. And you have water especially for chilling. And then a robust and growing labor force.”