By David Bradley, Vice President, D.L. Withers Construction
Guarded optimism is perhaps the best description. Viewed collectively over the past 12 months, we have seen signs of improvement in certain market sectors in Metro Phoenix.
Some examples from our current projects include private sector improvement in the Valley with the development of “big box” projects designed for distribution and manufacturing:
>> Coldwater Depot Logistics Center: Developed by Coldwater Industrial Associates, a venture between Trammell Crow Company and Clarion Partners and designed by Butler Design Group. The building includes approximately 600,000 SF of industrial space on a 54-acre industrial site in Avondale. Special features include an ESFR sprinkler system; 32-foot clear height; 138 dock doors; and the ability to expand the building to 1 MSF. Leasing activity has been exceptionally strong.
>> Elliot Business Park Phase 3: Developed by Tempe Marketplace Commerce Assoc., this project is the last phase build-out for the Business Park in an area where remaining properties are primarily infill sites. Designed by Euthenics Architecture and Interiors, the project has easy access to I-10 and is comprised of two buildings that total approximately 320,000 SF. One of the buildings is approved for a manufacturing facility. Both buildings include ESFR sprinkler systems; 30-foot clear height with steel roof structures; tilt-up concrete construction; and concrete loading dock areas. The buildings are complete at this time and the good news is leasing activity is very good.
>> Able Engineering: With a lease agreement between Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport/City of Mesa, this facility is the product of a creative public/private agreement that will benefit the community and the manufacturing firm. It is being designed by Cawley Architects. The building is 193,000 SF and includes hangar space; plating areas; spray booth; hydraulics areas; as well as office, fitness, and a nutritional-health food service area. About 95% of Able’s work is done in-house. The focus is MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) with a current base of more than 4,000 proprietary FAA-approved repairs for more than 800 components for service to some of the world’s largest fixed wing operators. Employment is anticipated to be approximately 320 jobs within the first 12 months of occupancy.
>> American Furniture Warehouse: Located on Power Road near the Loop 202 in Gilbert, design for this building began in late December of 2012, also by Butler Design Group. Through a fast-track expedited permit process we were able to begin construction in early March. The building includes 400,000 SF of warehouse; 187,000 SF of retail showroom space and 50,000 SF of mezzanine space. The building will be complete and open for business in early September. The new facility will provide approximately 300 jobs.
These types of facilities and the jobs created are clearly positive signs for the real estate and construction market. This type of growth and recent news of residential land sales; increased housing demand and the reduction in housing supply all indicate an economic upturn.
Whether this will be sustained is still a major question. Again — the focus over the past few years has been short term and to some degree myopic — a rearview mirror approach.
The fact that money is coming off of the sidelines and investors and companies are moving forward with major projects in Arizona is a very good sign. Current growth is occurring in limited sectors at this time, but it is our belief that this will spread to other sectors through the state in the not too distant future — 2014 and beyond.