Tag Archives: Casa Grande (Central Az)

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Developers say building to begin soon for PhoenixMart

Nearly four years ago, Casa Grande officials announced that developers had planned to build a massive international trade center on the edges of the city.

PhoenixMart would attract more than 1,700 vendors, establish nearly 8,000 jobs and provide a combined annual payroll of more than $300 million, officials had said.

They anticipated the 1.5 million square foot project – the largest trade center in North America – would open in late 2012 or early 2013.

Yet the 585-acre site still sits vacant. The only visible signs of progress are three development installations near the main entryway of the semi-graded site. There’s landscaping and a few trees.

Setbacks have plagued the project, leading some residents to gripe about delays and question if the developers will ever finish it.

Casa Grande Mayor Bob Jackson said although the groundbreaking ceremony began in 2013, city officials expected it to move more quickly.

“They are still working on visas,” he said. “They were way overly optimistic on how long they could get the visas processed. They set expectations that were impossible to make.”

Developers said the $150 million project is progressing, with 95 percent of grading completed on the site. Workers have begun foundation work and once the city approves a building permit application and reviews preliminary plat plans, construction should begin. The company also announced its first tenant last month.

What is PhoenixMart?

Developers fashioned the idea behind PhoenixMart on similar projects in China and Dubai. The center would bring in vendors of all sizes – including international companies – to sell goods and services directly to consumers.

They planned PhoenixMart as the first phase of NALTEC, which stands for North American Logistics Trade and E-Commerce City. It would eventually include apartments, hotels, a resort, retail and office space and large warehouses and showrooms. Project directors described it essentially as a “city within a city.”

Developers chose the location, two miles east of Interstate 10 on Florence Boulevard,
because of its proximity to Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas, freeways and railroads, said Matt Quinn, chief operating officer of I&G Management, NALTEC’s management company.

“We wanted to draw from both Tucson and Phoenix as far as an employee base,” he said. “We’re hoping it creates anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 jobs.”

The center will focus on six industries: home and hotel; electronics and accessories; food and beverage; industrial and automotive; and fashion and variety.

“Most American companies have not seen this type of business plan before,” Quinn said. “Our goal is to create efficiency with several outlets and supply chain under one roof.”

Quinn said the focus of PhoenixMart is to grow American business.

Delays and setbacks

Several setbacks – from obtaining building permits and securing visas to dealing with project management changes within AZ Sourcing¬ – have delayed the project.

Some Casa Grande residents have expressed impatience, posting on the company’s Facebook page comments such as, “Less talking, more building, please!” and “Come on! Let’s start the building already!”

Scottsdale-based AZ Sourcing, the parent company of NALTEC, bought the land in 2011. Casa Grande approved the initial design plans in 2012.

In February, PhoenixMart spokesman Patrick Welch told Cronkite News that AZ Sourcing secured 300 investors from five continents at $500,000 each.

The project is funded through the EB-5 federal immigrant investor program created by Congress in 1990. The program allows foreign investors to obtain conditional U.S. residency if they invest $500,000 in a rural, high unemployment area that creates 10 American full-time jobs within a two-year time frame of entering the U.S.

The EB-5 visa program gained popularity after the Great Recession when U.S. investor funding dried up. The U.S. can grant a maximum of 10,000 visas per year.

However, the EB-5 program has faced challenges. Last year, the U.S. reached its visa cap for the first time in 25 years, according to the U.S. State Department.

As a result, officials established a cut-off date applicants from China. There’s now a two-year wait list, which could further complicate job creation for PhoenixMart, because the several Chinese investors have backed the project.

AZ Sourcing declined to comment on the status of investor visas.

The development process has faced challenges, too.

“It’s a big project … a complicated project,” Jackson said. “Adding together all those pieces, I think they were way more optimistic than they should have been when they started and that probably plagued them during project.”

Casa Grande Planning and Development Director Paul Tice said AZ Sourcing had to go through several steps to gain approval, including modifying the city’s general plan and working on development plans.

“The fact that there (are) only two centers like PhoenixMart in the world has added complications,” Jackson said. “They are building in an area without infrastructure, so that’s a little bit of a complicated factor as well.”

City officials said the project didn’t receive any tax incentives. However, the project sits inside a community facilities district, so the city will reimburse developers for some forms of infrastructure such as roadways and sewer lines.

For example, workers will install a 21-inch wastewater line for the project. The line would run under I-10 and cost $10 million. The city would pay an estimated $5.2 million while AZ Sourcing would pay $4.8 million, according to city documents.

City Manager Jim Thompson said the water and sewer system benefits PhoenixMart, but it also supports future growth in the area.

The city has other costs as well. For example, last month, the city approved a contract for $36,000 to hire an outside contractor, Jensen Hughes, to ensure the project meets building and fire codes.

The future of job creation

Casa Grande’s labor force is more than 21,000, according to the Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce. Casa Grande’s main industries are primarily retail trade, manufacturing and agriculture.

Although the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.7 percent in 2014 from 7.1 percent in the prior year, residents said the area needs jobs.

Casa Grande resident Keith Oliver said although he saw billboards for PhoenixMart, he didn’t know much about the project. However, he said it could have a positive impact for job creation.

“I’ve lived here for 25 years, and there are hardly any jobs out here,” he said.

Jim Dinkle, executive director at Access Arizona, a nonprofit that focuses on economic development, said the NALTEC project would be a game changer for Pinal County if it’s built.

“It would have a huge multiplier effect on the local and regional economy,” he said. “It would be an economic driver and to service such a facility, you would have hotels, restaurants and things that don’t currently exist.”

PhoenixMart could potentially raise property values in the area as well, with real-estate agents anticipating the growth in employment will increase demand for housing.

Jackson said he’s optimistic about the PhoenixMart project, and the future job prospects in Casa Grande.

“Most of the people I’ve talked to are excited for it to come, once they go vertical with building, excitement will just be greater and greater,” he said. “I’m optimistic. There were times I wasn’t optimistic, but seeing pieces fall into place finally, I know it’s going to happen.”

PhoenixMart is now slated for completion by mid-2016.

casa

Modular Power Solutions leases 33KSF

Commercial Properties, Inc., Arizona’s largest locally owned commercial real estate brokerage, announced the lease of 1441 North VIP Boulevard in Casa Grande, Arizona.  Jeff Hays, Chad Neppl, John G. Soldo, SIOR and Ryan Steele of CPI’s Tempe Industrial Team represented the owner, Jensen Precast for this ±33,000 SF property with five structures on approximately 10.66 acres.

Jeff Hays commented. “This former concrete precast facility site has a total of 7 cranes ranging from 5 tons up to a 30 tons and newly refurbished office space.”  The new tenant, Modular Power Solutions (MPS) who was represented by Mike Parker and Evan Koplin of CBRE, is privately held by Rosendin Holdings, Inc. (RHI), and has over 50 years of experience as the largest design-build electrical contractors in North America.  Hays stated, “MPS builds steel frames that hold the servers and other electronic equipment for large data centers in the US, Singapore, Australia, Mexico and Canada.”

The property was particularly attractive to MPS due to the numerous and heavy crane ways.

The transaction resulted in nearly $1 million in total consideration.

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JLL leases 200KSF in Casa Grande

The Phoenix office of JLL has completed a 201,666-square-foot, five-year warehouse/distribution lease with global logistics company Kuehne + Nagel, Inc. in Casa Grande. The lease establishes Kuehne & Nagel’s presence in the Central Arizona market—a growing site selection consideration for industrial distribution and logistics users in the Western United States.

“For the right users, Pinal County definitely offers an alternative to the high costs of Southern California industrial space,” said JLL Executive Vice President Pat Harlan, who represented building owner Clarion Partners along with JLL Executive Vice President Steve Sayre and JLL Associate Kyle Westfall.

According to JLL’s Q1 Industrial Report, warehouse/distribution space in Pinal County has done well in the past 24 months, dropping from 17 percent vacancy in 2012 to 13.1 percent vacancy today. Although absorption has remained flat, market recovery is pushing developers to consider new industrial and warehouse projects in the area.

“Creating an inland port environment in and around Casa Grande—half way between Phoenix and Tucson—would allow companies to move their products from California’s ports directly to a more cost effective, inland location, then on to the rest of the U.S.,” said Harlan.

Kuehne + Nagel’s new space is located at 2592 E. Hanna Rd., approximately five miles southeast of central Casa Grande and directly adjacent to Interstate 10. With approximately 63,000 employees at more than 1,000 locations in over 100 countries, the Kuehne + Nagel Group is one of the world’s leading logistics companies.

verma

Vermaland buys 8,000 acres at La Osa Ranch

Vermaland LLC, a land banking and land development company based in Phoenix, has made its first significant investment in the southeast Valley land market – and its largest to date – with the purchase of 8,000 acres in La Osa Ranch, a master-plan community near Casa Grande.

Vermaland bought 4,000 acres in La Osa Ranch in 2012 and recently acquired an additional 4,000 acres in the same community. Strategically located off of Interstate-10 between Greater Phoenix and Tucson, long-term plans call for residential, retail and commercial development at La Osa Ranch. The deal is one of the largest land deals in recent history and indicative of an improving real estate market.

“The market has been buoyant in the past six months and while we have made significant land sales, we also have seen great buying opportunities,” said Vermaland CEO Kuldip Verma. “The opportunities we have the land market will not been seen in the next 10 years.”

Vermaland currently has the largest holdings of 50-1,200 acre parcels in metro Phoenix and the La Osa Ranch is its first significant investment in the southeast Valley.

Verma said besides its location, La Osa Ranch is attractive because of the advanced ground-work already completed including all water and land studies. Current plans call for more than 33,000 residential lots, 1,000 acres of commercial development and 2,000 acres of open space, parks and trail systems. The purchasing entity for the project is Verma La Osa Ranch, an LLC holding company for Verma Legacy Trust.

Verma said the residential real estate industry and land sale market are increasingly improving throughout Greater Phoenix and Arizona as a whole. Currently, finished residential lots are seeing double their value in comparison to 2011, with most foreclosures being flushed out. He added that 2013 will have more raw land sales than 2008-2012 combined and that 2013’s raw land market is seeing record activity halfway through the year and expects this pace to continue. On a side note, Verma added that raw land remains a valued commodity given that only 17 percent of all land in Arizona is private land.

Vermaland prides itself on the ownership of high-quality land parcels with good road access, electricity and water, proximity to substations and flat land conditions to allow for easier building. In the height of 2007 and 2008, Vermaland supplied land to some of the nation’s largest solar projects. Because of limited expansion options in most areas of Phoenix, other than the west Valley and southeast valley, Vermaland entities have maintained their portfolio in these two areas.

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Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner Adds Two Offices

Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C. announced that David A. McCarville has joined the firm as a partner.  McCarville is expected to lead the firm’s growth and expansion in the Probate, Trust and Estates practice areas.

Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C. also announced that McCarville’s current offices in Casa Grande and Avondale will be renamed and maintained, marking a physical expansion for Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C. from its Scottsdale offices into Pinal County and the West Valley.

“David’s addition to our firm is a triple crown winner for us,” said Randy Nussbaum, Managing Partner of Nussbaum, Gillis & Dinner, P.C.  “In addition to being a great lawyer, David allows the firm to expand its practice areas to include Estate Planning and Probate, plus allows us to physically expand our presence beyond our Scottsdale facility into Pinal County and the West Valley.”

When not working, McCarville spends his free time with his wife Judy and their 4 young girls ages 11, 10, 6, and 2.

skd258400sdc

Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner Adds Two Offices

Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C. announced that David A. McCarville has joined the firm as a partner.  McCarville is expected to lead the firm’s growth and expansion in the Probate, Trust and Estates practice areas.

Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C. also announced that McCarville’s current offices in Casa Grande and Avondale will be renamed and maintained, marking a physical expansion for Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C. from its Scottsdale offices into Pinal County and the West Valley.

“David’s addition to our firm is a triple crown winner for us,” said Randy Nussbaum, Managing Partner of Nussbaum, Gillis & Dinner, P.C.  “In addition to being a great lawyer, David allows the firm to expand its practice areas to include Estate Planning and Probate, plus allows us to physically expand our presence beyond our Scottsdale facility into Pinal County and the West Valley.”

When not working, McCarville spends his free time with his wife Judy and their 4 young girls ages 11, 10, 6, and 2.

volunteer

SRP Donates $94,500 to Nonprofit Agencies

Salt River Project employees are turning their volunteer hours into much-needed funds for the nonprofit organizations they assist through the SRP Dollars for Doers program.

The program contributes funds, ranging from $250 to $1,000, directly to community nonprofits based upon the number of volunteer hours donated during the 2012 calendar year by SRP employees. The grant program is designed to provide funding to nonprofit agencies that are also supported by the volunteer efforts of SRP employees.

“SRP has a distinct heritage built upon responding to the needs of our customers and the communities in which they live, and we recognize the value of providing support to organizations whose programs are improving the lives of our community,” said Jen Martyn who manages the SRP Volunteer Program.

SRP donated $94,500 to 106 nonprofit agencies in which 141 SRP employees donated more than 29,000 hours of their time and experience in cities throughout the Valley, including Avondale, Camp Verde, Casa Grande, Chandler, Douglas, El Mirage, Gilbert, Glendale, Higley, Litchfield Park, Mesa, Page, Peoria, Phoenix, Pine Top, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Scottsdale, St. Johns, Tempe and Tolleson and Tucson.

Employees contributed to their community in a number of ways, including:

· coaching youth football, baseball, soccer and swimming,
· providing children with special needs horse therapy rides,
· ushering during arts and cultural events,
· preparing meals for those in need,
· mentoring and providing leadership to youth and
· assisting schools through parent-teacher organizations and booster clubs.

law

JacksonWhite Names First Female Shareholder

JacksonWhite P.C. announced that attorney Susan Court was made a shareholder of the firm.  Court joins 12 other attorneys at JacksonWhite who share the distinction of shareholder.

Court joined JacksonWhite in 2005 and focuses her practice on elder law, probate, guardianships, conservatorships, and estate planning. Court assists clients with end-of-life issues including incapacity, mental illness and the transfer of assets before or after death. She is a member of the Arizona Fiduciaries Association as well as the State Bar of Arizona. Court is a former Maricopa County prosecutor and taught Business Law at Mesa Community College and Chandler Gilbert Community College. She is also active on the MCC Development Board, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce.

Founded in 1983, JacksonWhite P.C. offers a full-range of services to assist individuals, families and businesses with their legal needs. Since its inception, the Mesa firm has grown steadily to include 22 highly experienced attorneys and over 40 paralegals, legal assistants and staff. At this size, the firm is large enough to offer the efficiency and technical expertise of larger firms, yet small enough to provide clients with individualized, personalized attention. JacksonWhite has three offices around the state of Arizona including a Mesa, Casa Grande and Peoria location. For more information on a specific attorney or area of practice, visit www.jacksonwhitelaw.com or www.arizonaseniorlaw.com.

guayule

Guayule could drive Arizona’s economy

It’s common knowledge that America’s largest import is oil, but do you know what’s second? Hint: it’s a commodity used for tires, hoses and thousands of household products.

The United States imports 100% of it’s natural rubber from the Hevea tree grown in nations like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Once upon a time, there was enough rubber to supply all of our needs, thanks to imported natural rubber and synthetics made from petroleum, but like with everything else in the global economy, the need for rubber is being stretched beyond it’s supply.

Enter Arizona, the home of a native Sonoran Desert plant called guayule (why-you-ly). A hundred years ago, it was touted by names like Edison, Firestone, Ford and Rockefeller as the panacea for our nation’s rubber shortage. Ironically, it even appeared on the front page of the New York Times on December 7th 1941, touted as a backstop supply of rubber in case of Japanese aggression. Shortly thereafter, over 25,000 acres was put into production as part of the war effort.

Unfortunately, like every other time guayule has cropped up, worldwide prices or geopolitics have conspired to cut it down before long-term research could be done–until now.

In 2009, a Casa Grande company, PanAridus, started acquiring the largest privately owned germ plasm bank of guayule on the planet, marrying the sciences of genetics and bio-agriculture to making guayule profitable for farmers to grow and for tire companies to use in the manufacturing process.

Guayule and Arizona are a match made for a planet with finite resources. Not only does the plant use about half the water as conventional crops like cotton or alfalfa, but it’s grown on unproductive and arid land. One hundred percent of the plant is used, either for rubber, resins or as cellulosic biomass.

With consistent testing in hand, PanAridus is now growing more guayule per acre than can be grown by tapping the Hevea tree, and this past autumn for the first time in history, guayule samples were publicly offered to be tested against ‘traditional’ rubber sources that have been used to make tires, tubing and medical supplies.

Will 100 years be worth the wait? With an exploding Asian market, the possibilities for a center for the $300 billion tire industry being sited in Arizona look positive. PanAridus is currently looking at sites for a test facility in rural Arizona that will allow it to grow its patented strains in large enough quantities for tire companies not just to test its purity, but to actually blend it into the tires they sell all around the world.

Blending rural agronomy with genetics to grow crops like guayule will give us key strategic advantages we need not only to create jobs at home and increase profits at the farm gate, but also to create a ‘best practices’ sustainable industry that can be exported around the world.

 

Michael Fraley is CEO of PanAridus. Learn more at www.PanAridus.com.

guayule

Guayule could drive Arizona's economy

It’s common knowledge that America’s largest import is oil, but do you know what’s second? Hint: it’s a commodity used for tires, hoses and thousands of household products.

The United States imports 100% of it’s natural rubber from the Hevea tree grown in nations like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Once upon a time, there was enough rubber to supply all of our needs, thanks to imported natural rubber and synthetics made from petroleum, but like with everything else in the global economy, the need for rubber is being stretched beyond it’s supply.

Enter Arizona, the home of a native Sonoran Desert plant called guayule (why-you-ly). A hundred years ago, it was touted by names like Edison, Firestone, Ford and Rockefeller as the panacea for our nation’s rubber shortage. Ironically, it even appeared on the front page of the New York Times on December 7th 1941, touted as a backstop supply of rubber in case of Japanese aggression. Shortly thereafter, over 25,000 acres was put into production as part of the war effort.

Unfortunately, like every other time guayule has cropped up, worldwide prices or geopolitics have conspired to cut it down before long-term research could be done–until now.

In 2009, a Casa Grande company, PanAridus, started acquiring the largest privately owned germ plasm bank of guayule on the planet, marrying the sciences of genetics and bio-agriculture to making guayule profitable for farmers to grow and for tire companies to use in the manufacturing process.

Guayule and Arizona are a match made for a planet with finite resources. Not only does the plant use about half the water as conventional crops like cotton or alfalfa, but it’s grown on unproductive and arid land. One hundred percent of the plant is used, either for rubber, resins or as cellulosic biomass.

With consistent testing in hand, PanAridus is now growing more guayule per acre than can be grown by tapping the Hevea tree, and this past autumn for the first time in history, guayule samples were publicly offered to be tested against ‘traditional’ rubber sources that have been used to make tires, tubing and medical supplies.

Will 100 years be worth the wait? With an exploding Asian market, the possibilities for a center for the $300 billion tire industry being sited in Arizona look positive. PanAridus is currently looking at sites for a test facility in rural Arizona that will allow it to grow its patented strains in large enough quantities for tire companies not just to test its purity, but to actually blend it into the tires they sell all around the world.

Blending rural agronomy with genetics to grow crops like guayule will give us key strategic advantages we need not only to create jobs at home and increase profits at the farm gate, but also to create a ‘best practices’ sustainable industry that can be exported around the world.

 

Michael Fraley is CEO of PanAridus. Learn more at www.PanAridus.com.

BORDER GOVERNORS

Brewer signs photo radar bill

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill requiring state transportation officials to confirm there’s a legitimate safety need before they allow cities to put photo enforcement cameras on state highways.

A Senate amendment to House Bill 2477 passed by the Legislature softened a requirement that cities show photo enforcement has improved safety if they want to renew their state permits every three years. The bill Brewer signed into law Wednesday allows non-renewal only if it can’t be shown the cameras are maintaining a “positive impact” on public safety.

Eight cities and towns now use photo radar on stretches of state highways, and Casa Grande and Sierra Vista are working with the Arizona Department of Transportation to add them.

healthcare

East Valley Pediatrics joins Banner Medical Group

Banner Health announced that East Valley Pediatrics, with 18 physicians and three nurse practitioners serving patients in 11 east Valley locations, has joined Banner Medical Group (BMG). BMG, a part of Banner Health, will continue operating these East Valley Pediatric clinics in Apache Junction, Casa Grande, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Queen Creek. Two sites in Mesa and Gilbert will continue to provide after-hours services, as well.

“We are excited and honored that this high quality physician organization is joining Banner Medical Group,” said BMG CEO Jim Brannon. “East Valley Pediatrics has been serving families with outstanding care since 1998, and it’s our privilege to help continue this legacy of excellence.”

In addition to the 18 pediatricians and three nurse practitioners, 75 other health professionals will transition into BMG. The complete transition of East Valley Pediatrics into BMG is anticipated to be complete by Feb. 1, 2013.

“This is a wonderful complement to our overall development of Banner Children’s services,” said Brannon. “These services are across the Valley and include both outpatient settings like these clinics and inpatient facilities like Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa and the Banner Thunderbird Children’s Center in Glendale,” Brannon added.