Author Archives: Michelle Lauer

Valley Partnership

Valley Partnership: Partners 2012

Six partners tell why they chose to be involved with Valley Partnership and why they stay.

Markham Contracting

mike markham - markham contracting - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012Mike Markham Jr., vice president and chief operating officer at Markham Contracting, isn’t involved in many trade organizations.

“But I’ve chosen to stay in Valley Partnership because of the value it brings,” Markham says. “It goes beyond just the business connections, it’s about to the community service we do. That’s why we stay involved — Valley Partnership is moving forward and trying to be influential in the Phoenix area while remembering it’s important to give back to the community.”

The fifth-generation Arizonan established membership with Valley Partnership through the community project committee. Eight years later, he’s still involved with both Valley Partnership and the committee, which manages annual donations to local nonprofits to enhance facilities for children and those in need.

Markham began working in the construction industry in 1995, receiving his bachelor’s degree in construction engineering from Arizona State University in 1999. After several years at another company, he went to work for his father’s business, Markham Contracting, in 2001.

“We’re a family business my father started in 1977, so I grew up around Markham Contracting,” he says. “My dad founded it, and now we’re moving into our second generation — my sister and I are taking over the day-to-day operations, transitioning to the second generation.” 68 | May-June 2012

Sunbelt Holdings

heidi kimball - sunbelt holdings - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012Heidi Kimball, vice president and designated broker at Sunbelt Holdings, exemplifies the American Dream. She started working at the commercial real estate firm in 1982 as the receptionist, and worked her way up through decades of loyalty and dedication.

Kimball became involved with Valley Partnership in 1994, first participating in the state legislation committee. Her first year on the Board of Directors was in 1998, and, after several terms, she served as Valley Partnership president in 2002. Still active in the organization, she foresees Valley Partnership will continue its work as a channel between the public and private sectors.

“I think V.P. will carry on as the single point of contact for parties seeking resolution of a variety of development issues,” she says. “From a public policy standpoints, we provide the resources, the contact to the development community, as well as a bridge to municipalities and government to the citizens through village planning committees and neighborhood associations.”

Kimball, who says she’s proud to see more women entering the construction industry and earning leadership roles, notes that Valley Partnership’s diversity serves in its favor.

“I think Valley Partnership serves a unique role in being able to speak to, really, all sides of an issue by virtue of our diverse membership,” Kimball says. “We can address governmental, citizen and developmental concerns.”

Abacus-Abengoa

jeff chaves - abacus-abengoa - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012Jeff Chaves joined Valley Partnership four years ago because he shares common values with the organization — action and advancement.

“Valley Partnership has a very strong reputation for being the premier advocacy group in the Valley of the Sun, and I wanted to be part of that,” Chaves says.

Chaves spent the first 15 years of his career as a consulting hydrogeologist, and then ventured into business development with civil engineering firm Olsson Associates. After serving as director of business development at Kitchell, he accepted a position at Abacus-Abengoa as market sector leader and where he currently serves in a consulting and advisory capacity. Abacus-Abengoa is an international company applying innovative technology solutions for sustainable development.

The father of four, baseball coach and California native serves as a member of Valley Partnership’s Board of Directors. Chaves was enthusiastic when asked to join the board last year because Valley Partnership’s impact is a tangible, influential force, he says.

“When you look back 25 years ago, when Valley Partnership first started and industry professionals were trying to get an audience with legislators, for example, it was difficult,” Chaves says. “Now, they come to us. That, as much as anything, is a good indication of the powerful impact of Valley Partnership in the Valley.”

Chaves foresees real estate developers will emphasize sustainability in the future, both economic and environmental. Valley Partnership, he says, will remain a pivotal player in Arizona.

City of Phoenix

debra stark - city of phoenix - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012Debra Stark, planning director for the City of Phoenix, joined Valley Partnership in the mid-1990s when the organization was first forming and establishing professional ties throughout the Valley. She was working for Maricopa County at the time and recalls being pleasantly surprised when Valley Partnership representatives appeared at the county’s Department of Transportation meeting, hoping to collaborate.

“I thought, ‘That’s refreshing!’ ” Stark recalls. “They want to partner with us instead of us writing some legislation or ordinance and then them reacting negatively, and it’s better to partner than continue to fight. The next thing you know, I was drawn into the organization.”

Stark, who earned her master’s in planning from Arizona State, is on the city/county committee. The Wisconsin native says she’s remained loyal to the organization for so many years because of Valley Partnership’s tangible, constructive impact on the Valley.

“Valley Partnership brings a reputation of quality, and I think any Arizonan wants a quality city, so this organization knows how to reach out and promote that level of excellence,” Stark says. “They’re a voice in Arizona; they’re certainly a voice in Maricopa County and Phoenix, and they get involved for the right reasons, and that’s to improve the quality of life.”

Kitchell

dick crowley - kitchell - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012After graduating from the University of New Haven with a degree in civil engineering, Dick Crowley entered the general contracting industry in 1980. Deciding he found his niche, he stuck with the field. “I’ve been involved in projects in 20 states, including retail, commercial, healthcare, parking structures — a vast array of various projects,” he says.

Crowley has since spent his entire career in commercial construction, both in operational functions and in marketing and development. Crowley is eight years into a flourishing career at Kitchell, an employee-owned construction, real estate and contracting company operating primarily in the Southwest, where he serves as vice president of marketing.

Crowley is also an avid pilot, father to 4-year-old Grace, and a strong believer in sustainable expansion. He joined Valley Partnership two years ago.

“Both Kitchell and myself, personally, have a vested interest in our community, particularly in Maricopa County,” Crowley says. “Valley Partnership really has become the premier advocacy group for real estate development, and as such it has created an opportunity for its members to have unique access to the policy makers that influence development in our community.”

Crowley serves on the sponsorship and events committees, and particularly enjoys Valley Partnership’s Friday breakfasts. “There’s a networking function that people enjoy, but what keeps people coming back is that education component where they learn something.”

Ryan Companies US, Inc.

molly ryan-carson - ryan companies us - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012Molly Ryan-Carson is a legacy at Ryan Companies US, Inc., a national developer and commercial real estate firm. Her grandfather founded the company in 1938, blazing a trail for a family business that would eventually span three generations.

Ryan-Carson has been with Ryan Companies for 11 years. She served as retail development director for eight years, then earned a promotion to vice president of development in 2010.

She joined Valley Partnership at the recommendation of a colleague two years ago, when the commercial real estate market wasn’t exactly prospering.

“Though the last two years have been no picnic, it’s been very interesting to see Valley Partnership focus to maintain relevance and importance for individuals who are now looking for jobs, thereby strengthening the community,” Ryan-Carson says. “They really put their money where their mouth is, and they work hard to achieve important goals. Both myself and Ryan Companies are certainly active supporters; we believe in V.P.”

Ryan-Carson sits on Valley Partnership’s Board of Directors, where she says she’s established relationships and connections that have positively impacted her career. She also serves on the events committee and often frequents the Friday morning breakfasts.

“I remain involved because I feel Valley Partnership is out to make a difference for individuals at every level of commercial real estate and development,” she says.

For more information about Valley Partnership, visit their website at valleypartnership.org

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Scottsdale Living Magazine Spring 2012

How Fashion Can Lead To A Number Of Painful Health Problems

Agonizingly beautiful: Wearing heels that are too high and jeans that are too tight are just two of the fashion statements that can lead to health problems down the road, experts say.


Suppressing a scowl and the urge to launch those insufferable stilettos through a nearby window, you hear your mother’s voice in your ear.

“Beauty is pain,” she reminds you.

Fueled by societal standards and a powerful biological urge to attract, women endure grueling conditions to acquire allure and beauty.

Though bound feet, cinched corsets and lead makeup went the way of the powdered wig (phew!), many contemporary beauty trends are just as dangerous to women’s physical health.

“I think footwear is one of the worst things we do to women,” says Dr. Anthony Hedley, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix. “Women’s feet, by and large, get an absolute hammering throughout their lives.”

The usual culprits? Tall, thin, pointy shoes.

High heels place a high volume of impact on a small area of bones, instead of distributing the weight evenly over all 26 bones in the human foot. With each step, sky-high heels add about 25 percent more impact on hip and knee joints and double the stress on the muscles supporting the spine.

Towering heels can lead to chronic over-stretching of the plantar fascia, shortening of the Achilles tendon, and other painful or unsightly foot conditions, Hedley says.

“High heels cause a number of things detrimental to the feet in the log run: drifting of the metatarsals, hammertoes, Haglund’s deformity, bunions, Achilles tendonitis,” Hedley says. “When the feet are ridiculously high, posture is thrown out so badly that it causes back, hip and shoulder pain.”

Several of these chronic conditions deform the foot, making it difficult to wear any shoe at all, whether stiff and chic or drab but comfortable.

To avoid limping down the road, orthopedic experts recommend keeping your everyday heels less than 2.5 inches.

Skinny jeans, high heels’ trendy cohort, should also be worn with caution.

Doctors are noting a rise in the number of patients reporting unconventional leg pain. Increasingly, pant size is to blame.

“Skin-tight jeans can cause vascular obstructions, and you don’t want your nerves constricted,” says Hedley.

Over time, when pressure cuts off the femoral nerve, one can develop burning or numbness as a permanent condition. Other significant and undesirable side effects of skinny jeans are blood clots, muscle pain and urinary track infections, Hedley says.

To dodge a trip to the doctor’s, avoid trendy jeans so skinny you have to lie down to zip up.

Another spring must-have that is becoming a painful problem for fashionistas is the oversized handbag, a fashionable way to tote laptops, diapers, water bottles — you name it.

But before you splurge on a jumbo-sized purse to carry every tool of the trade, consider the risks of having it all.

The American Chiropractic Association recommends carrying no more than 10 percent of your body weight in your purse or bag. Even just basic essentials — commuting shoes, reading/writing material, coat, snack and a laptop — can quickly add up.

Every extra pound of weight you carry is amplified six times across the knee joint, says Denise McGinley, director at the Center for Orthopedic Innovation at St. Luke’s Medical Center. Heavy, extra-large shoulder bags can cause neck pain, muscle inflammation, and, in serious cases, “dropped” shoulders and acute episodes of muscle spasms.

If you need to lug cargo amassing more than 10 percent of your body weight, invest in a rolling carryall, since pack mules are so 2011.

“Don’t let fashion mislead you and make you the victim, because some of the results are irreparable and avoidable,” Hedley says. “You can be fashionable without being foolish.”

 

Scottsdale Living Magazine Spring 2012

Swanky Seniors - Sagewood, AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Swanky Seniors

Sophisticated assisted living and senior care developments look more like resorts than the traditional ‘old folks home’

As America’s senior population swells to an unprecedented volume — 62 million seniors, almost double the number of seniors at the turn of the century — luxury senior care and assisted living development is on the rise in Arizona.

Thankfully, assisted living no longer means sending Mom where bingo is all she looks forward to. Many developers in the assisted living field are building contemporary, sophisticated senior care facilities to accommodate expensive tastes and active lifestyles. These residencies are opulent and lavish, more like resorts than the gloomy, industrialized “old folks homes” of decades past.

When considering livability factors, such as decreased mobility or heightened sensitivity to cold, Arizona’s flat terrain and temperate climate are a natural draw for seniors. In the past several years, senior housing has been the most active type of development in Scottsdale.

Anticipating the influx of a mammoth demographic, several senior care facilities are in the planning and developmental stages.

Orchard Pointe, a 104-unit assisted living apartment facility in Surprise, broke ground in March. Developed by Heritage Management Services and Telis Commercial Real Estate, Orchard Pointe will open in spring 2013.

Mark Huey, president of Telis Commercial Real Estate, says Orchard Pointe will “bring a Midwestern ethic of care and concern to the Valley, packaged in a high-luxury lifestyle.”

Mountain West Contracting is general contractor and RAR Architects is the architect.

In Tucson, The Freshwater Group is building a new assisted living community called Hacienda at the River.

Hacienda at the River will provide remarkable taste and services, from greenhouses on site to serve organic foods in dining facilities to an all-pets-welcome policy.

Hacienda will also raise horses on site for equine therapy for residents with memory affliction, dementia, and other animal therapy aids.

David Freshwater, president of the Freshwater Group, says the revolution in senior care is palpable.

“Our spas, workout rooms, and cafes look more like Starbucks and LA Fitness rather than the traditional old folks homes,” he says. “They really, truly have changed in design to reflect the different clientele than who we’ve been serving the last 25 years.”

Hacienda at the River is still in the design phase. “It will be assisted living, Alzheimer’s or what we call ‘memory care,’ as well as skilled nursing and rehabilitation,” Freshwater says.

Maravilla Scottsdale, which was scheduled to open in May, will also cater to epicurean tastes. Boasting multiple landscaped courtyards, a cinema, Internet lounge, chip-and-putt golf course, spa, and multiple dining venues, Maravilla Scottsdale is indisputably of the new generation of assisted living.

The 120,000 SF facility offers 178 apartment-style living units and 39 villa-type living units, plus common areas such as the lodge, fitness center, commercial kitchens, and an indoor swimming pool.

The Weitz Company is building Maravilla Scottsdale. It’s also the general contractor for Sagewood, a multi-phase retirement community comprised of 12 casitas, four villas and eight buildings housing independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing units in North Phoenix.

sagewoodSagewood offers diversity in the levels of care provided, often easing the transition from minimal to increased living assistance.

Future phase expansions are planned to complete this site’s development. Once completed, the community in its entirety will carry the promise of progressive living in an environment that emphasizes choice, flexibility and independence for its residents, says Kelly Billings of the Weitz Company.

Scottsdale’s The Colonnade, another resort-style assisted living facility, opened in 2004. Now, The Colonnade will break ground later this year on the second phase of construction, adding villa type housing units to its existing residencies.

The developer behind The Colonnade is Sun Health, an up-and-coming player in the healthcare industry.

“Our standard finishes are high end, including full GE appliance packages, wood line window covering, and ceramic tile flooring,” says Sharon Grambow, Sun Health’s senior living coordinator. “Residents can select premium package upgrades, including quartzite countertops and cherry cabinetry tile with diamond metal decorative inserts.”

Belmont Village Scottsdale, a three-story assisted living apartment building, contains of 136 units — 111 independent living apartments and 25 dementia care units — at the 100,000 SF facility. It sits on a 4.17-acre site with a courtyard pool and walking path.

Houston-based Belmont Village AP has 20 assisted living facilities in seven states, and opened its Scottsdale location in February. This project cost more than $30M, says Belmont CEO Patricia Will. Located southeast of 100th St. and Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., the community was built by W.E. O’Neil Construction.

Vi at Silverstone also opened in 2010 on 32 acres and offers 270 independent-living units to Northeast Valley seniors. Developed by The Plaza Companies, built by Summit Builders and designed by DAVIS, the $195M project is all about individual preferences.

More importantly, says Sharon Harper of The Plaza Companies, it offers seniors an abundance of choices.

“People have all kinds of choices in terms of size and location, and they really can customize what they would like,” Harper says. “There’s a vibrancy embedded in the neighborhood and the greater community and that creates excitement and the opportunity to continue to be educated. We offer innovation, fitness and overall wellness.”

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Mobile payments - AZ Business Magazine March/April 2012

Mobile Payments – The Pay Of The Future

They’re not here yet, but expect mobile payments to change the way we pay

If your wallet feels thinner in the upcoming months, blame your cell phone, not the down economy. Mobile payments, also called mobile money and mobile wallet, are the future of commerce. If they haven’t already, mobile payments will soon revolutionize the way you receive, spend and monitor your money — no plastic required.

Instead of swiping a conventional debit or credit card when you’re at the grocery store or out to dinner, mobile payments digitize the process. Simply open your smartphone’s finance application and tap your cellphone on the checkout counter’s PayPass terminal.

Voilà, the transaction is complete.

Your cell phone, operating a technology called Near Field Communication, uses a semiconductor chip housed in your smartphone to transfer the payment from a pre-paid or credit card account with the application. Though not many existing smartphones possess NFC technology, few released in 2012 won’t have it.

LG, Panasonic, Microsoft, and Toshiba say they plan to incorporate the technology in their phones soon. Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, BlackBerry and Android released smartphone models with NFC chips in 2011, but most don’t yet have compatible applications on which to perform mobile payments.

Google Wallet, the first major NFC-enabled mobile payments application in America, is only operational on Sprint’s Nexus S 4G (also created by Google), using Citi Mastercard. Naturally, Google plans to support more payment and phone types in the future.

Tailing by a hair, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T plan to launch ISIS — a similar mobile payments system — later this year.

Alas, though the future feels so close, your reimbursing cell might still take a few years, according to a study released by Gartner in July.

Gartner estimates that 50 percent of smart phones will be NFC-enabled by 2015.

“We believe mass market adoption of NFC mobile payments is at least four years away,” says Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner. “The biggest hurdle is the need to change user behavior by convincing consumers to pay with mobile phones instead of cash and cards.”

So, though financial institutions and software providers race to offer NFC, most customers are too accustomed to contemporary payment forms, Gartner speculates. A main motive for consumer hesitation is financial security.

David Peterson, founder of electronic payment software provider Goldleaf, says that fortified firewalls and other electronic gatekeepers make mobile payments quite trustworthy.

“NFC works only for a very small distance, say a few inches,” Peterson says. “By narrowing the field in which NFC works, it enables individual transactions with more accuracy and privacy.

“And, if I lose my phone, I can go to my computer and kill it, remotely,” he says. “I don’t care where it is or who’s got it – I can wipe out anything.”

Despite protective measures to stop fraud from occurring, what if the inevitable happens? Should a customer dispute a mobile transaction, unfortunately, there are only limited regulations regarding liability … for now.

Depending on which application is used and who the provider is, customers have different levels of protection.

“People need to be smart, because there’s not been a new prudent body of law saying banks or apps have to offer specific protection,” Peterson says. “If a customer has issues with stuff going on with a bank’s mobile payments application, then there are not any separate regulations that covers them than if they were online, or frankly, in the bank’s lobby … But any time a purchase is made bypassing the bank with a service provider, consumers and businesses should assume that there is not much protection of liability.”

For banks, customer liability isn’t the biggest problem. It’s staying modern.

Companies who have successfully created NFC mobile money applications, like Google Wallet, will determine banks’ and financial software companies’ relevance in the increasingly pertinent world of smartphones.

Eric Haler, retailer market manager at Bank of Arizona, says that after Bank of Arizona developed its iPhone, Android and iPad mobile banking applications last year, they quickly became indispensable.

“It’s definitely been good for business, and is certainly something clients like to have,” Haler says. “Now, for customers, it’s an expectation instead of a luxury.”

However, like most mobile money applications, Bank of Arizona’s does not yet use NFC technology, and customers’ smartphones cannot be used in lieu of a credit card.

“I haven’t heard of anyone leaving their bank over that or even really needing that feature, but obviously a lot of people are using it and it’s growing so it’ll be important to see that we keep up,” Haler says.

Keeping up, however, is an enormous undertaking. In today’s world of fleeting modernity and ever-evolving technological horizons, it can be hard to know in which direction to shoot.

Some companies, skeptical of NFC’s practicality, are skipping NFC entirely. Instead of following the latest trend, their finances operate with cloud computing.

Scottsdale-based Apriva LLC, a mobile payments processing and security service provider founded in 1987, says it looks ahead of NFC for the future of mobile commerce.

“Many people believe it’s going to grow rapidly over the next 50 years and become an important page in technology’s history. But today, it’s a just fraction of the market,” says Paul Coppinger, Apriva’s president. “Yes, our applications work with NFC, but the deeper end is they don’t have to use NFC. We’re independent of that fact, because our wallet isn’t built into the point of sale or phone, it’s in the cloud.”

Cloud computing, a wireless system of sharing via servers and the internet, doesn’t require additional hardware.

“With NFC, if you want advanced mobile payments capabilities, you have to get a special phone with NFC in it and merchants need to use it, too,” Coppinger says. “When you take all those special things and net them together… it’s impractical.”

Whether NFC is fleeting or conducts your finances forever, mobile, contactless payments are imminent.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Hospitality And Casino Construction Increase On Tribal Lands - Gila River Indian Community

Hospitality And Casino Construction Increase On Tribal Lands

The Gila River Indian Community is building two new hotels that total more than 200 rooms, a new, 70,000 SF casino, and a conference center. The Navajo Nation is building its first Arizona casino near Flagstaff.

“(Construction in Indian country) is actually one of the market sectors that is really thriving,” says Rogers Owers, an attorney with Andante Law Firm, whose speciality is construction laws in Indian country. “Whether it’s design, construction, or brokering the real estate deals, cash flows into the industry as a whole.”

In Tucson, a new 44,500 SF convention center and a 1,120-car parking structure opened at Casino del Sol in November. Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino increased its guest capacity to 300 rentable rooms, and renovated its restaurant in July.

As several Arizona tribes reveal major hospitality and casino construction projects, one thing is a sure bet — 2012 is shaping up to be another jackpot year.

The Arizona Department of Gaming reports that trial casino revenues steadily declined from 2008 to 2010, but returned to the green in 2011. During this period, hospitality and casino construction in Indian country slowed.

Talking Stick Resort, which opened its doors on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in 2010, was the last significant Native American casino and hospitality project in almost a year.

Today, several sizable construction projects in Indian country are underway or open for business. The largest, a multifaceted undertaking by the Gila River Indian Community, includes a new 90-room hotel and the demolition and remodel of Vee Quiva Casino in West Phoenix, plus a new conference center, 130-room hotel and restaurant at Lone Butte Casino in Chandler.

The Gila River Indian Community, going all in, also is reportedly opening a new hotel at Toka Sticks Golf Course in Mesa, which is a short distance from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

The construction venture at Vee Quiva is still in its developmental stages, according to Melody Hudson, public relations manager for Gila River Casinos. It is expected to open in the summer of 2013 at a cost of $135M.

“Rebuilding Vee Quiva Casino is part of a strategic plan the Gila River Indian Community has set in place to refresh our casinos while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Community and creating new job opportunities in Arizona,” says Anthony Villareal Sr., Casino Expansion Owners Team chairman.

After its reconstruction, Vee Quiva Casino will total nearly 175,000 SF — almost double its original size.

Further north, the Navajo Nation broke ground last March on Twin Arrows Casino outside of Flagstaff, its first casino in Arizona.

The 320,000 SF, $150M casino, scheduled to open in July, will include a hotel and conference center. General contractor is Hunt Construction and the architect is Friedmutter Group.

Some casinos, on the other hand, already have their cards on the table. Casino Del Sol and Harrah’s Ak-Chin opened their newly renovated facilities in 2011.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe renovated and expanded Casino Del Sol’s hotel and convention center in Tucson to the tune of $75M. The additions included 215 new rooms, a conference center, a parking structure and a spa. It is the second phase of the tribe’s ongoing hospitality and casino refurbishment project. McCarthy Building Companies served as GC and LEO A DALY was the architect.

McCarthy project manager Kurt Nyberg says construction went smoothly because the tribe first commissioned his company in 2003.

“What helped with this expansion is that the Casino Del Sol had gained building experience when both firms worked on the original casino project,” Nyberg says, “so the process was not entirely new from the owner’s perspective.”

Another big player in Arizona, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and Resort, finished its hotel and restaurant renovations in July after 11 months of construction. Lead designer Jason Ploszaj of RSP Architects says the construction was vital, because the “hotel was turning away guests nightly.”

The expansion, a $20M, 5-story hotel tower, doubled the number of rentable rooms at the Maricopa resort.

“In order to better serve guests, Harrah’s decided that after more than 10 years of success, and expansion of 152 new hotel rooms was necessary to refresh the hotel experience,” Ploszaj says.

For more information on casino and hospitality construction visit, ciic.construction.asu.edu

 

AZRE Magazine March/April 2012

Owners of My Sisters consignment business - AZ Business Magazine March/April 2012

My Sister’s Consignment Business Expands Into California

Three siblings’ lucrative consignment business expands into California

From the moment you meet these three entrepreneurs, it’s obvious they’re sisters.
Articulate, well-dressed and blonde, they are undeniably of the same distinctive breed.

Ann Siner, Jennifer Siner and Tess Loo are the siblings behind Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc., better known to Valley shoppers as My Sister’s Closet, My Sister’s Attic and Well Suited. The sisters’ venture into consignment retailing has proven to be wildly successful, growing into a resale empire with revenue totaling more that $16 million in 2010, employing about 200 fashion-forward thinkers, catapulting the sisters into the forefront of Phoenix fashion, and changing the way Valley consumers shop.

“We shaped the face of retail in Phoenix,” says CEO, founder and oldest sister Ann Siner. “We have made it more acceptable to buy recycled.”

In 1991, the sisters — stocked with clothes they literally pulled out of their friends’ and siblings’ closets — opened My Sister’s Closet, an upscale consignment store with designer labels and strikingly low price tags, at Towne & Shopping Center in Phoenix’s Camelback Corridor. They soon expanded into Scottsdale and now have 10 locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Chandler. In 2011, the sisters opened two new stores in San Diego.

“What helped us succeed was changing the image of the resale store from the three Ds — dark, dirty, and dingy,” Ann Siner says, “to the three Cs — cute, clean and current.”

After finding success with their women’s resale clothing store, the sisters listened to the copious requests from customers for vintage furniture and opened My Sister’s Attic in 1999. Next came their men’s apparel store in 2001, which the women dubbed Well Suited.

“If I can just get you in the door, you will see that we are not your typical resale store,” Ann Siner says. “We will convert you into a resale shopper.”

The sisters have helped turned a lot of consumers into converts since the financial crisis hit in 2007. Diminishing disposable incomes, the appeal of stylish vintage pieces, and trends that favored sustainability fueled the sisters’ businesses.

“Our sales went through the roof,” says Jennifer Siner, co-founder and youngest sister.

Whereas five years ago designer bag-toting fashionistas would have scoffed at consignment shops and fled to Barney’s, today they shop resale. And they come in droves.

In a down economy, Eco-Chic Consignments has increased revenue by an average of 20 percent annually over the past four years. For the sisters, it’s a sign.

“Now is not the time to sit back and say we’ve done it all,” says Ann Siner. “We’ve got to keep looking forward, look at what’s new, listen to people, their feedback, and always look for what we can do to make it better.”

The sisters’ goal is to keep expanding in San Diego and duplicate the success and expansion they have accomplished in Phoenix.

“It’s been well received and people love shopping (at My Sister’s Closet),” Ann Siner says, “so we want to open more stores in San Diego and then hopefully just keep working up the coast.”

My Sister’s Closet
2033 E Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Camelback Esplanade

Camelback Esplanade Has A New Addition: The Del Frisco's Grille

Camelback Esplanade, once the unofficial headquarters for Valley power lunches, is now mentioned most often for slowing revenue and high turnover rates. This June, however, the storied mixed-use center will welcome a newcomer to the table.

In its first restaurant venture in Arizona, Del Frisco’s Grille will fill the now-vacant booths of the venerable Houston’s Restaurant, which relocated in December 2010.

Del Frisco’s Grille, a high-end steakhouse and bar, serves contemporary American cuisine.

Del Frisco’s Grille is exactly what the landlord hoped for, says Jon Cowen, senior director at Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona. Cowen was the property’s listing agent, representing the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New York in the lease transaction.

“MetLife, the owner of the property, is very pleased to be leasing space to a high caliber brand like Del Frisco’s Grille,” Cowen says. “This mixed-use restaurant and retail project is the perfect home for a destination restaurant of this quality and reputation.”

Camelback Esplanade lost major tenants in Houston’s Restaurant and McCormick & Schmick’s, which closed abruptly in early January. In an effort to revamp the property’s appeal, Camelback Esplanade plans to amend its image, Cowen says.

“This lease is a critical first step in our plans to re-merchandise the retail space at Camelback Esplanade,” Cowen says.

Despite the center’s dwindling headcount, Del Frisco’s Grille is eager to make the move.

“This Camelback location is ideal,” says Bill Martens, director of development at Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group. “It has a good balance of strong office and residential density to support this dining experience, making us a convenient choice for our local guests.”

Del Frisco’s Grille plans to extensively renovate the 7,379 SF restaurant space, including the installation of a roof deck patio for extended dining capacity. Located at 24th Street and Camelback, the restaurant will be the third Del Frisco’s Grille location nationwide.

To find out more about Camelback Esplanade’s restaurants, camelbackesplanade3.com.