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Semiconductor building in Phoenix to be redeveloped

Environmental concerns being addressed at industrial site

Corina Vanek

Arizona Republic USA TODAY NETWORK

After Onsemi announced it would move its headquarters to Scottsdale, the company formerly known as ON Semiconductor sold its Phoenix building to a developer that plans to find an industrial user for the site.

Developing the site at 52nd Street and McDowell Road includes contending with the ongoing environmental cleanup of contaminated groundwater that dates back to when the site was used by Motorola. Onsemi is a spinoff company of Motorola and began operating independently in 1999.

Chicago-based Baker Development Corp. had already purchased 28 acres south of Onsemi’s headquarters at 52nd Street and McDowell Road, and recently closed on the 44-acre headquarters site, Dan Slack, principal at Baker, said.

Construction has already begun on Baker’s other site. Baker sold 10 acres to Iron Mountain Data Centers, which has a nearby location, and Baker is developing an industrial building on the remaining 18 acres, Slack said.

The company is evaluating options for the 44-acre site, which could include demolishing all the buildings and constructing new from the ground up, or reusing one of the fabrication facilities, called a fab, on the site. There has been interest in the site from dif-

ferent businesses — from the semiconductor industry to distribution or data centers — that could call for either plan, Slack said.

The designing, planning and permitting process will take about a year to 18 months before construction can start, Slack said.

Onsemi headed to Scottsdale

Onsemi signed a lease for office space in Scottsdale near Loop 101 and Chaparral Road for its new headquarters, Gary Pugsley, vice president of facilities for the company, said.

He said the Phoenix facility was built in 1955 'for a very different company and a very different focus.” The facility was primarily designed for Motorola's semiconductor manufacturing but is now home to Onsemi’s corporate offices and some lab space.

Onsemi plans to begin moving to its new location in the first quarter of 2023, he said.

Onsemi employees are working on a flexible in-office schedule depending on their job duties, Pugsley said, but all employees come to the office at least once per week. The new office will have room for over 1,000 employees.

“We are really excited to move into a better space,” he said, adding that by moving into a smaller location and newer building, it will improve energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint, which has been a goal for Onsemi.

Cleanup underway for contaminated site

Development on the 52nd Street site, which used to be the Motorola plant, also must be coordinated with the city of Phoenix, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Slack said.

The site, and a large surrounding area, is a “superfund site,” with a large area of contaminated groundwater from a leak in an underground storage tank in the 1980s, during the Motorola era. The leak contaminated groundwater with solvents used in semiconductor manufacturing, according to the EPA. The affected area includes a seven-mile stretch from downtown Phoenix to east of Sky Harbor Airport.

Cleanup efforts on the site are ongoing, and Slack said the development must be done carefully and in conjunction with the cleanup, so as not to disrupt the work on the site.

The contaminated water is about 150 to 180 feet below ground, Slack said, so there is not a concern about building or having a business on the contaminated site.

“We’ve worked on these types of sites before,” he said. The location and proximity to Sky Harbor International Airport and ease of access from freeways make it an ideal place for revitalization, he said.

“This is a win/win for everyone,” Slack said. “This site has been passed over by many because of the stigma, but it can be an employment center for upwards of 1,000 people.”