Tag Archives: Jack Lunsford

The Offices at Reems.

Sperry Van Ness Represents the Seller in a 16-Unit Office Condo Portfolio Sale in Surprise

Justin Horwitz, Nicole Ridberg and Neil Sherman of Sperry Van Ness, LLC, in Phoenix represented Pacific Western Bank in the sale of the Offices at Reems, a 16-unit office condo portfolio located at 15515-15571 N. Reems Road in Surprise, Ariz.
The bank-owned shell and built-out condo units sold for $1,350,000 or $56 per square foot and closed on August 27. The portfolio is approximately 24,101 SF.
“The transaction turned out to be a win-win for both the buyer and seller,” said Justin Horwitz. “This sale put the Offices at Reems back on track to being a vibrant and desirable office condo project in the West Valley.”
The buyer, Reems and Greenway, LLC, was represented by Steve Cook of Escee Properties.

SL-DigitalMagazine

Scottsdale Living Magazine – Winter 2012

Winter 2012 Issue

Health | Beauty | Lifestyle
Oh So Retro

Only in Arizona will you find people stocking up on sunblock and tanning by the pool — in April. And at the Hotel Valley Ho, it was evident during our swimsuit photo shoot in March, which couldn’t have arrived soon enough as the OH Pool was already swarming with guests.

And here we thought it was too soon to dedicate this side of the magazine to swimsuits.

This spring issue is all about prepping for the upcoming summer season by taking a step back into the past — decades back. During your swimsuit hunt, I’m betting you’ll be hit with a splash of neon, a ripple of ruffles and a wave of retro-themed suits. But which is for you? Don’t worry; we’ll cover that, too, and so much more.

Go for the Monroe or be bold with a Betty; retro is in, and it has never looked better.

Kristine Cannon,
Associate Editor

Home | Garden | Design
Remodeling Memories

Gossie SignatureMichael Gossie,
Managing Editor

Before I moved to Arizona, I owned an old home in Corning, N.Y., with a third floor that had become — over the course of the home’s 100-year history — a glorified attic. After I bought the house, the wasted space of that third floor bothered me. So I gutted it to give it a loft feel, installed a fireplace and bar, and turned it into a place where my friends gathered for Super Bowl parties, fight nights and epic poker games.

Memories from that third floor are what I remember most from that home.

Kristine Cannon’s story in this issue of Scottsdale Living about David and Brooke Ide’s transformation of a spare bedroom into a nursery reminded me about how a simple — or in my case, somewhat complicated — remodeling project can create space that will help your family and friends create memories.That is what turns a house into a home. Or, in my case, a money-making venture, because I ALWAYS won my friends’ money in our epic poker battles. How do you think I paid for the remodel?

Take it with you! On your mobile, go to m.issuu.com to get started.

WESTMARC Logo - AZ Business Magazine July/August 2011

New WESTMARC President Leverages GPEC Experience To Benefit Organization

Michelle Rider, President and CEO, WESTMARCIn June, Michelle Rider was named WESTMARC president and CEO. On July 1, she officially replaced Jack Lunsford, who had held the post for seven years. For nine years, Rider has held key positions with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC).

How is the West Valley economy fairing compared to last year?

The West Valley still faces the challenge of having lost 300,000 jobs in recent years, as well as being affected by the housing bubble. It has also had several recent wins for its economy with the addition of companies such as Sub-Zero in Goodyear and Gestamp Solar Steel in Surprise.

What needs to be done to help the West Valley’s economy get back on track?

The West Valley has an opportunity to attract new quality employers. Bringing major employers in will create new jobs directly, but will also help provide a customer base for struggling small businesses. West Valley community mayors and councils aggressively compete for these opportunities.

How do you think your work at GPEC translates to your role at WESTMARC?

Everything I have done at GPEC translates in some way to leading WESTMARC. I have worked with many of the public and private sector leaders through GPEC on projects including fundraising, public policy and stakeholder engagement.

What new initiatives or policies will you implement for WESTMARC members?

We are developing a new strategic plan. I am fortunate that WESTMARC’s leadership (board and executive committee) is dedicated to prosperity in the West Valley. We look forward to creating a clear, measurable road map to guide the organization.

What sets the West Valley apart?

Most of the next decade’s growth projected for Greater Phoenix will occur here. We have the opportunity to define ourselves by leveraging and managing that growth to provide quality jobs.

Michelle Rider WESTMARC president and CEO

Arizona Business Magazine July/August 2011

new WESTMARC CEO

Despite WESTMARC CEO Change, WESTMARC Keeps Its Focus

WESTMARC CEO Change – When WESTMARC entered its 21st year this past January, an announcement was made that few members expected. Jack Lunsford, WESTMARC CEO for the past seven years, announced he would be stepping down for health reasons.

In addition to leading WESTMARC in its goals for 2011, the incoming chair, Candace Wiest, suddenly had a daunting task ahead of her — finding Lunsford’s replacement.

“Losing someone like Jack is always very difficult,” Wiest says. “He’s been a known commodity for a number of years and has accomplished a lot in the West Valley, and so you kind of look around and go, ‘Wow, what are we going to do now, especially when it’s so unexpected like this.’ ”

Wiest and her team didn’t have to look far for an interim CEO. John Bradley, who had served on WESTMARC’s board for a number of years, stepped up to the plate and has helped guide the organization as it continues its efforts in advocacy and public policy for the West Valley, all the while searching a permanent leader. Wiest says they have narrowed that list down to six candidates and hope to make an announcement soon.

“As you can imagine, people get very nervous in a dues-paying organization when you lose your CEO,” Wiest says. “John stepped into that role literally the day Jack left and he has helped grow membership and really stabilized the organization. He’s just done a great job.”

WESTMARC is committed to several key issues that impact the 15 communities it represents, including education, economic development, transportation, tourism, health care, Luke Air Force Base, and quality of life.

One aspect of WESTMARC that makes it unique, Wiest adds, is its 250 employer members that represent 70,000 jobs. This cross spectrum of industries involved in WESTMARC makes the group qualified, she says, to understand and respond appropriately to economic development in the West Valley.

“Every single focus is on economic development and a responsible method of public policy,” Wiest says. She explains that the organization will be identifying and focusing its efforts on four projects each year that affect economic development in the West Valley. One such project it will work on this year is the recent impact fees legislation. The law will cause Arizona cities to give up some of their powers in assessing fees on new developments.

“The fact of the matter is that cities that are built out, like Tempe and Scottsdale, will not be as impacted as West Valley cities that haven’t yet matured,” she says. “It’s going to really change the way we can be developed and our desirability, so (the West Valley) is going to be the most impacted.”

One of the challenges Wiest says the organization has encountered in recent years, especially in the down economy, is retaining its membership numbers. She says WESTMARC not only has met that challenge, but has surpassed it with a growth in membership this year. The key to overcoming this challenge, she says, is ensuring the membership is reaping rewarding benefits.

She points to a health care forum held in May as one of the most recent benefits for members.

Christine Clouse and Sharon Grambow, co-chairs of the health care committee for WESTMARC, recommended holding the forum. Health care’s status as one of the leading economic drivers in the state also was a key factor in planning the event. The forum benefited not only health care industry members, Wiest says, but also other industry members who may have been overwhelmed by recent legislation.

Wiest says the health care forum most likely will be among this year’s greatest achievements for the organization, as will be the continued success of the Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone, which she explains will be a great economic development tool for the region for many years to come.

WESTMARC also was among the first organizations to issue a statement in support of keeping the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes hockey team in Glendale, which Wiest explains was a valuable move for its membership. She adds that the possibility of the team leaving the state would have had a negative impact on regional economic development.

“I think what we do is very unique,” Wiest says. “Our mission is really driven by the needs of our members.”

 

AZ TechCelerator - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Business Incubator AZ TechCelerator Works To Create Viable Companies In The West Valley

In an effort to boost its economy and shake its reputation as a bedroom community, the city of Surprise has launched AZ TechCelerator, a business incubator for budding entrepreneurs. The incubator offers well-below market rent, administrative support and access to experts who can help the entreprenuers “graduate” in three to five years, and thus bring their products and services to the marketplace.

The incubator comes in handy, especially in dire economic times. There are always entrepreneurs hoping to develop products or services. But in a slow economy, when people have been laid off and are unable to find gainful employment, Az TechCelerator gives those people an opportunity to test their ideas and innovations.

Of course, Surprise officials hope these startups will set up shop in their city once they emerge from AZ TechCelerator. A rule of thumb among business incubators is that 60 percent to 75 percent of these entrepreneurs do graduate, and about 75 percent of those will indeed remain in Surprise.

Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC, applauds Surprise’s effort.

“It’s an approach that our communities need to take as they seek and advance a knowledge-based economy,” he says. “I commend them for their innovation. We need more of these incubators. The high-paying jobs that come from spin-offs of these entrepreneurships is great.”

Mike Hoover, economic development coordinator for Surprise, gives the initial group of businesses high marks.

“They are exceeding our own expectations on quality and the amount of business going on in there, especially the anticipated growth and success of some of the businesses,” he says.

The AZ TechCelerator is located at 12425 W. Bell Road, in a four-building complex that formerly served as the Surprise City Hall. It totals nearly 60,000 square feet, which is four times the size of a typical incubator. Hoover says it can accommodate up to 15 businesses, depending on their size.

Three types of businesses are considered likely participants — those that deal in sustainability, such as solar technologies; life sciences and/or health care; and information technology.

One of the businesses in the incubator is MD 24, a medical service company that developed advanced software for home health care. It enables doctors to receive lab results, for example, while seeing patients in facilities that provide care for the elderly. Another company, Solar Jump AC, is developing more efficient cooling systems using solar thermal heat; and Athena Wireless Communications offers software for banking, telemedicine and other industries.

“These businesses are not yet commercially viable, needing assistance through a collegial supportive atmosphere that the city provides,” Hoover says.

In addition to offering space at a below-market rental rate, the city also provides an array of support services, including mail, copying and other administrative functions that each business needs.

The city’s most important service, Hoover says, is being able to link incubator businesses with various associations and support groups that can provide assistance with their specific needs.

“Whether they need help on putting together a marketing brochure, protecting intellectual property, or understanding how to put together a business plan for the company covering the next three to five years, they are able to get help,” Hoover says. “Anything that is identified inside of a strong and stable business, the city helps these businesses reach out to groups that can help them.”

Another way the city prepares businesses for graduation is by ratcheting up the low rents the longer the company remains in the incubator.

“It prepares them for the commercial world,” Hoover says. “There’s no sticker shock. At the end of their stay here, they are closer to commercial viability because they are paying closer to a commercial rent.”

Surprise started preparation work for the incubator in June 2009, began marketing it in September, and accepted its first tenants around the start of November.

One of the side benefits of the AZ TechCelerator is that it occupies the former City Hall complex that otherwise might have remained vacant. When the city moved to its new municipal facility at 8401 W. Monroe St., several hundred people left the old site on Bell Road.

“Restaurants and other businesses in the area were suffering,” Hoover says. “The choices were to leave that space dormant, or reprogram it into an economic engine. We turned a nonperforming asset into an economic starter.”

Surprise hopes to keep the expense of running the incubator as close to break-even as possible, supported by rent and common area fees, Hoover says.

“Our purpose is for business and job creation,” he says. “There are no retail projects inside. They are all some type of service or product development. They’re not competing with retail outlets on the outside.”

www.surpriseaz.com

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Mr.WestValley

John F. Long Didn’t Just Build Houses In The West Valley, He Also Built A Community

About the only person who would disagree about calling the late John F. Long the father of the West Valley would be John F. Long. For more than 60 years, the man described by friends and colleagues as quiet and unassuming, held the vision that transformed the West Valley from fields to thousands of homes for soldiers returning from World War II to emerging cities.

The legacy of John F. Long will live forever,” says Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC. “Unlike footprints in the beach sand, which are eventually washed away, John’s are cast in concrete. And that doesn’t just mean buildings. He left us foresight and philanthropy, all with humility and without fanfare, simply because he loved the area, he loved people, and he wanted to make the West Valley a great place for families to live.”

Long died in February at the age of 87, but his legacy in the West Valley — indeed the entire Valley — will live on, not just in the communities he built, but also in the people whose lives he touched.

“His vision and reality of building a master-planned community is certainly important,” says his son, Jacob Long, who is chief operating officer for the company his father founded, John F. Long Properties. “Not only was he providing an affordable place to live for so many, he was also providing jobs for so many people. A lot of those people not only stayed here, but they are an integral part of helping the West Valley grow as business and community leaders. At least once a week I meet someone who says, ‘Because of your father, my family or I was able to buy a solid home at a great price. It helped me build equity.’ ”

A Phoenix native, John Long got his start in the building industry with a G.I. loan, his own hammer and other tools he borrowed from his stepfather. He first set out to build a home for his new wife, Mary. Instead, he ended up selling the home for twice what it cost to build.

By 1954, John Long was thinking big. He set out not only to build a collection of tract homes in one area, but also to create a community with schools, churches, hospitals, shopping centers and parks. Long created the state’s first master-planned community and named it Maryvale, after his wife.

By applying mass production techniques to homebuilding, Long was able to offer a three-bedroom, two-bath house with a swimming pool for less than $10,000. Houses began selling at a rate of 100 per week, and John F. Long Properties was born.

Despite his success, Long never forgot who he was building the homes for, says Diane McCarthy, director of business partnerships and legislative affairs for West-MEC. For example, when Long first began constructing homes, he realized the VA loans didn’t cover such essentials as refrigerators and stoves. So Long trekked to Washington, D.C., and went before Congress to change the scope of the VA loans.

“He didn’t do it to make money. Making money was a sidebar to what he was doing,” McCarthy says. “He wanted to build communities. He knew with all those returning servicemen after World War II who had served out here either at Williams or Luke, he knew they were going to come West and he wanted an affordable place for them to live.”

Already hailed as an innovator for his assembly line methods of homebuilding, Long adopted sustainable methods years before it became popular. In 1988, John F. Long Homes was chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop, construct and test a demonstration model home featuring roof-mounted photovoltaic solar cells. His Solar One became the world’s first solar subdivision. The 24-home subdivision in Glendale has almost all of its power needs met by ground-mounted photovoltaic cells.

“I think John was probably one of the greatest entrepreneurs and innovators, at least in the housing end, in water conservation, in just general development,” says Rep. John Nelson, (R-Phoenix). “He was a step ahead of everybody in those areas.”

John F. LongFor Long, finding new ways to build homes was just one part of his vision. He was interested in building a community; more specifically, he wanted the West Valley to be a place where people lived and worked. Rather than resent the fact that the West Valley was perpetually in the East Valley’s shadow, Long took the East Valley model and used it to reshape the West Valley. To that end, WESTMARC was born

“WESTMARC wouldn’t have happened without him. It’s just that simple,” says McCarthy, who first met Long in 1992, when she became the first director of WESTMARC. “He provided a lot of the seed money for us to get started, and in addition to the money, he talked to a lot of people. When you’re starting up an organization like that, you don’t have a lot of credibility because you don’t have a track record. He was willing to talk to other people and say, ‘Look, I really believe in what this organization can do and we have to give it a chance. And we all have to be willing to roll up our sleeves and get involved and help make a lot of these things happen.’ ”

Making things happen was a John Long specialty. He was always quick to donate money, land or services to make sure his beloved West Valley would continue to grow and be a place where people could raise families and build communities. A very small portion of what he gave includes the labor and material to fill potholes on 550 miles of West Phoenix streets; building and donating 21 townhouses to the city’s Affordable Housing Program; and when the Milwaukee Brewers were looking for a new Spring Training home, donating 60 acres of land for the Maryvale Baseball Park – as well as lending the city $10 million for construction.

Besides giving out of his own pocket, Long made sure others with the wherewithal gave as well.

“Dad was born and raised in Phoenix,” Jacob Long says. “This makes a huge difference. You have that sense of ownership and pride. He always was looking for ways to help others help themselves, who in turn might have the same feelings and be inspired. That is how true communities flourish.”

John Long had a standing challenge to other developers who built in the West Valley, Nelson says.

“He’d say, ‘I’ll do this if you do that,’ ” Nelson adds. “If you took a look at the developers who took a project on the West Side, they always had that challenge with John to put a project in pace that had benefits for those who lived there.”

McCarthy recalls a time when the library and senior center just north of Indian School Road and 51st Avenue badly needed repairs. Long made sure money for the upgrades was included in a bond measure. The measure succeeded, but when he found out the renovations weren’t scheduled until years later, Long took matters into his own hands.

“He went to the city and said, ‘Here’s the check for $10 million. Get it done sooner and pay me when the bond proceeds come in,’ ” McCarthy says. “So that beautiful, beautiful library and senior center he lived to see done.”

Exactly how much Long gave to the community is not exactly known, as most of his work was done behind the scenes and with no fanfare.

“Both parents instilled in us the need to be aware of someone who truly needs help and is experiencing a tough time through no fault of their own,” Jacob Long says. “One such person, a teenager, experienced a very bad athletic accident. He was confined to a wheelchair and his parents didn’t have the resources to modify their home. Dad read about this in the newspaper and he contacted the family and offered to remodel their home to accommodate the son’s special needs. This way he could be with his family. No one asked (my Dad) to do this.”

His philanthropy was not a recent development. In fact, he established the John F. Long Foundation, a nonprofit group supporting local charities, schools, education events and general community needs, in 1959. Long was generous in the extreme, but he was still a businessman and he would fight to protect his interests and those of the community he loved.

“He had a heart of gold and was tough as nails when he had to be,” Nelson says. “John sued the living daylights out of the city of Phoenix (in 1986) because they sold water to Palo Verde (Nuclear Generating Station). That was another side of John; he was not afraid to fight. If he felt he was right, he’d drag you to court. He didn’t care who you were.”

In 2000, WESTMARC created a lifetime achievement award and named it after Long. Despite all of his years working for the West Valley, the honor came as a surprise to him, McCarthy says.

“We told him we named it after him and I had never seen him speechless up to that point,” she says. “He was so thrilled at that. And then every year, I would take a couple of names to him and ask him, ‘Who do you think should get it?’ And he’d pick out the one and say, ‘That’s the one.’

“He never, ever flaunted anything. He was the most humble person. He would walk into a room and quietly sit down and unless you knew John Long, you wouldn’t know it was him,” McCarthy says. “I miss him. He was always somebody to call if you had an idea and he was willing to call you if he had an idea. And that’s how things get done.”

Photography by Cassandra Tomei

Cover Story – High Octane

High Octane

With two major NASCAR races and a huge impact on the region, Bryan Sperber and Phoenix International Raceway add plenty of fuel to the Arizona economy

 

Activity in the West Valley has hit an all time high as new hotels and mixed-use developments suddenly appear in what used to be stark dirt fields, but they are not for the upcoming Super Bowl XLII. The take-off of economic development is almost as fast as the blur of engine-revving cars circling at Phoenix International Raceway.

High OctanePIR pumps $473 million into Arizona’s economy annually, according to a recently released study on Phoenix International Raceway conducted by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. A staggering amount equal to what the Super Bowl is prospected to bring to the Valley. “The Super Bowl is predicted to generate $400 to $500 million,” says Julie Frisoni, marketing and communications director for the city of Glendale. “However, PIR happens every year.”

PIR’s economic impact figure is based on two NASCAR events, the second of which was added after heavy statewide lobbying in 2005.

The Study
Timothy Hogan, Ph.D., professor emeritus of ASU’s Department of Economics, directed the 2005 study. The new study updates the 2001 original study of PIR’s economic impact, but adjusts for inflation and increase in races and fans.

The raceway’s overall economic impact of $473 million takes into account visitor, organizational and induced expenditures, such as purchases by out-of-state visitors and business activities at PIR. The updated study identifies several other areas of growth including state and local tax revenues, as well as income generated directly and indirectly from PIR, which covers PIR employees’ wages and salaries and Arizona household additional income as a result of visitor spending, PIR operations and spending by PIR employees.

According to the study, visitors from out-of-state who attend PIR events spend $160 million annually on goods and services directly and indirectly associated with the raceway including dining, entertainment, lodging, recreation and shopping throughout the Valley. However, out-of-state monetary flow will shift away from dispersing over the entire Valley and become more concentrated in the West Valley as economic development increases in the area. “Over the years, with the University of Phoenix stadium and more hotels being built in Glendale, more activity will occur over in the West Valley,” Hogan says.

PIR President Bryan Sperber says the organization is working with ASU’s sports business program to conduct a complete study update, which should be finished by spring 2008. “It’s a pretty comprehensive program,” says Sperber. “The original study covered one NASCAR race, but the Valley has evolved and changed, and the landscape of the sport has changed.”

Preparing for the Rush
In preparation for out-of-state visitors, Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers says the city has two new Hilton hotels that are already sold out for the next three years during race times, and several mixed-use developments opening in time for Subway’s Fresh Fit 500 weekend in April. PIR holds two races a year bringing in a total of 375,000 race fans to the Valley. “I remember when we first started [PIR] 17 years ago, looking forward and dreaming of what NASCAR could be,” says Sperber. “I think we’ve reached or even surpassed that dream.”

Feeding the Economic Giant
Sperber says PIR’s success is due to two key pieces of legislation that propelled the growth of NASCAR racing in the Valley.

First, the creation of the bridge over Gila River. Second, the $5 million spent in widening access roads coming from the west, where most race car fans travel from to get to PIR. A little known fact about these public improvements is that racing fans paid for them. “The public enjoys wider roads and a bridge year round, while PIR uses it a couple days a year,” says Sperber.

In addition to public improvements and huge economic impact, PIR is a privately owned entity. “Most professional sports venues are owned by the public,” says Sperber. “New changes to [PIR] are all funded privately by us. That’s well over $150 million given to the economy in addition to the races.” Which is great news for the booming West Valley.

“The more the races grow, the more PIR puts into capital investments, which will make the experience better,” says Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of Westmarc. “As the experience gets better, there is more money spent that directly affects our communities.”

Capitalizing Success
Dina Serin, economic development specialist for the city of Avondale, says PIR was a vital component of their 2007 marketing plan, which introduces a new message point and brand awareness that uses PIR’s success to help promote the city.

Marketing materials for Avondale’s Economic Development Department display the city’s slogan: Avondale is on the move… And you are in the driver’s seat.Keeping with the theme, calls to action sprinkle fliers and brochures: Rev up your RPMs at local shopping and dining destinations; shift into low gear by relaxing at one of the Hilton hotels; and take the wheel and experience Avondale for yourself.

“[PIR] is a great asset to our community and we plan on continuing to work with them,” says Avondale’s Development Director Claudia Whitehead.

Statewide Impact
AZ Business Magazine April May 2007Jacki Mieler, director of media relations for the state’s Office of Tourism, says PIR attracts people who might consider doing business or relocating businesses to Arizona. “NASCAR has a lot of high-profile sponsors who will travel to come see the races,” says Mieler.

Lunsford says the hope is that those high profile sponsors will see the growth and development happening and create new jobs that will further propel the Valley’s economy.

As PIR races into another exciting season, the economy fuels up on visitors experiencing all the Valley of the Sun has to offer.

www.phoenixraceway.com

Evolution of PIR

PIR was founded in 1964 by a group of professional sports car racers that had a dream of building a racing facility. PIR was carved out of the foothills of the Estrella Mountains in the West Valley and was intended to be a new crown jewel of American open wheel racing. At that time the tourism industry in Phoenix was just starting to grow.

It wasn’t until 1988, when NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series racing came to PIR, that auto racing in Phoenix really became a major sporting attraction for the area. The Checker Auto Parts 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race in November is said to be the largest one-day sporting event in Arizona. A study by Arizona State University proves PIR’s economic impact to be among the top in the state, and demonstrated PIR’s tremendous growth over just a few years.

PIR President Bryan Sperber has a few exciting changes for upcoming events that will further propel PIR’s growth. “With every event, we attempt to introduce and try new things. We live in an entertainment world where the lines are becoming more blurry in terms of live entertainment, music and sports,” says Sperber. “We have to keep [PIR] fresh, fun and exciting.”

AZ Business Magazine April May ’07 |  Next: The Road to Success

AZ schools

Schools Feel The Pinch When It Comes To Growth In West Valley

Growing Pains

Schools feel the pinch when it comes to growth in the West Valley

By Lori K. Baker

It’s back-to-school time. Will the children in the West Valley’s new residential developments have a neighborhood school to attend? At first, that question might strike you as odd. After all, many consider school the cornerstone of the neighborhood, something you automatically count on to be there. But officials in the West Valley’s fastest growing school districts say it’s not correct to make that assumption. “People assume there’s a place for their kid to go to school, but logistically it isn’t always so,” says Pete Turner, superintendent of Liberty Elementary School District in Buckeye.

growing_painsTwo potent forces have converged in the West Valley to create a school shortage: rapid growth and a school funding formula that fails to keep pace.

Mark Maksimowicz heads Dysart Unified School District, one of the Valley’s fastest growing districts. In the 2005-2006 school year, the student population shot up by 3,500 students, more than a 25 percent leap for a district with approximately 18,000 students. In a perpetual game of catch-up to meet the demand for classroom space, DUSD is expected to open four new schools in the 2006-2007 school year.

The long-term outlook looks even more daunting for the Liberty District. While it ended last school year with 3,000 students and five schools, Liberty is expected to have 35,000 students and 45 to 50 schools by 2020. “But that depends on what happens in the housing market over the next 15 years,” Turner says.

That means 15 years of wrestling with overcrowding for Turner and other West Valley superintendents, unless the state’s schools funding formula is changed.

The old school finance system relied on the secondary property tax, driven by the assessed valuation of a school district and general obligation bonding. In the old system, school districts could ask for voter approval for bonds of up to 15 percent of the school district’s assessed valuation as a way to keep pace with growth.

But all that changed in 1994, when the Arizona Supreme Court decided that the funding formula was unconstitutional in the landmark case, Roosevelt Elementary School District No. 66 v. Bishop.

Four years later, then-Gov. Jane Dee Hull signed legislation that dramatically reformed the way K-12 schools are constructed in Arizona. The legislation is known as Students FIRST (Fair and Immediate Resources for Students Today). Students FIRST moved responsibility for funding school construction and other capital items away from local districts to the state and phased out those local property taxes used to support capital expenditures. The new law created a state School Facilities Board to administer the system.

“I don’t think anyone realized at the time what was about to happen,” says Roxanne Morris, superintendent of the Saddle Mountain Unified School District in Tonopah.

Rapidly growing districts found it nearly impossible to keep pace with growth. The funding formula multiplies the number of students by the square footage and cost per square foot to determine the allocation. “By the time you can even begin construction you’re already overcrowded in some—if not all—of your schools,” Turner says. “Construction of a new school takes between eight to 12 months, so sometimes when a school opens, it’s already full. It makes it very difficult to keep up with growth without having overcrowded schools.”

Meanwhile, developers say the School Facilities Board’s cost per square foot doesn’t reflect the fact that construction costs have catapulted over the last few years. Barry Chasse, vice president of Adolfson & Peterson, developer of numerous Valley schools, says his company has seen a 30 to 40 percent hike in construction material costs—namely steel, copper and petroleum-based products—over the last two and a half years. Labor costs have also jumped 15 to 20 percent over the same period, he says. “The funding levels are inadequate in today’s dollars,” he says.

A solution? “It’s time for the School Facilities Board to be revisited,” says Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC. Fellow WESTMARC member Herman Orcutt, partner of The Orcutt/Winslow Partnership, says schools are a key component in the future of the West Valley’s successful economic development. “The quality of schools is an important fabric of the community,” he says. “Higher quality schools bring up the level of residential, commercial and business development.”

AZ Business MagazineMeanwhile, savvy school district officials like Morris are discovering ways to free themselves from state funding straitjackets. She’s discovered a key is forging successful partnerships with developers, such as Joel H. Farkas, chairman of JF Companies. Forget golf courses and greenbelts. Farkas believes the wisest investment for developers is the neighborhood school. “Of all the things we could possibly do as a developer, that’s the most important,” he says.

www.dysart.org
www.liberty.k12.az.us
www.smusd90.org
www.a-p.com
www.westmarc.org
www.jfcompanies.com

Arizona Business Magazine Aug/Sept 2006

AZ Business Magazine Aug-Sept 2006 | Previous: Home Run | Next: The Metro Report

Gridlock

West Valley Looks To Improve Transportation Efforts

Finding Solutions to Gridlock

West Valley looks to improve transportation efforts

By Debra Gelbart

Transportation issues affect the entire Valley of the Sun, of course, but they are particularly weighty in the West Valley, where lack of sufficient freeway miles and the dearth of motorist-friendly roadways are taking a toll on commerce, economic development, tempers and safety. “We simply don’t have the freeway miles that the East Valley does,” says Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs, who also chairs the Maricopa Association of Government’s (MAG) Transportation Policy Committee. “In the West Valley, we have too many people traveling on arterial streets, which hurts the quality of life within a city.”

find_solutionsShe says other areas of the Valley are able to concentrate on different aspects of transportation besides freeways. “Phoenix is focused on building light rail and expanding bus service. The East Valley is improving arterial streets,” she says. “But here in the West Valley, we’re still trying to get enough freeways to manage our explosive growth.”

It’s more than just an issue of convenience. “The seven-mile stretch of Interstate 10 that passes through the city of Goodyear—between Perryville Road on the west and Dysart Road on the east—is a major corridor of commerce for products from Asian manufacturing centers off-loaded at the Los Angeles ports,” says Goodyear Mayor Jim Cavanaugh, “and because of the narrowing of the freeway here [there are only two lanes in each direction], traffic backs up terribly. We’ve investigated and found that these seven miles have 10 times the number of traffic fatalities compared with the national average for the 2,500 miles of Interstate 10 across the nation. And we know that this leg of I-10 accounts for 35 percent of all traffic fatalities on I-10 within metropolitan Phoenix.”

The reality is that the commute from the West Valley to Phoenix has become unbearable, says Jay Ellingson, vice president of land development for SunCor, developer of the master planned community of Palm Valley. In January, Ellingson will become chair of WESTMARC, the Western Maricopa Coalition, which brings together representatives of business, 13 local governments and educational organizations to advocate for sound public policy in the West Valley. “We’re just not given the attention we deserve by employers and educational institutions,” Scruggs says, “in part because it’s difficult to travel from and through the West Valley because of so few freeway miles.”

Cavanaugh has been instrumental in securing relief for the congestion on I-10. Originally, I-10 between Dysart Road and the Loop 303 at Cotton Lane was not supposed to be widened until 2011. But because of the efforts of Cavanaugh, other Goodyear officials, leaders from the cities of Avondale, Buckeye, Litchfield Park, MAG and the Arizona Department of Transportation, the widening project will now get under way in 2007. “By late 2008, we will have four lanes in each direction,” Cavanaugh says. “By early 2010, we’ll have five lanes in each direction.”

Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC, says accelerating the widening of I-10 will have a dramatic effect on businesses. “If your people are sitting in traffic for an extra half hour at any given time, that results in a decrease in productivity,” he adds.

Accelerating the widening of I-10 is critical for the people who live in the West Valley, adds John Bradley, general manager of Verrado, DMB’s master planned community in Buckeye. The residents of Verrado may be able to look forward to the I-10 widening from Loop 303 to State Route 85 possibly beginning in 2013 rather than 2023, as originally planned. Currently about 2,000 people live in Verrado; at build-out in 2017 it’s expected to be home to as many as 30,000 residents.
The widening of I-10 is one of three freeway projects that will affect the West Valley. Another is extending Loop 202 from I-10 linking I-10 in the West Valley to I-10 in the Southeast Valley. Construction would start in 2009 and finish in 2015.

AZ Business MagazineThe third freeway project affecting the West Valley is construction of Loop 303, located about 10 of miles west of Loop 101 and currently a two-lane roadway extending from McDowell Road to Grand Avenue in Surprise. Future construction of what will be called the Estrella Freeway will link Interstates 10 and 17 in the far West Valley, but the six-lane freeway won’t be completed until about 2014. “All of these projects are vital now to moving traffic more efficiently and effectively in and around our West Valley cities,” Lunsford says, “and they will be critical in the West Valley’s ability to accommodate and manage future growth.”

Scruggs says the West Valley’s time in the spotlight is overdue. “The West Valley still isn’t recognized for the role it plays in Maricopa County,” she says. “The center of the Valley is shifting westward, to right around Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue. The way the West Valley is perceived will begin to change when we get the freeways we need.”

www.glendaleaz.com
www.ci.goodyear.az.us
www.suncoraz.com
www.westmarc.org
www.dmbinc.com

Arizona Business Magazine Aug/Sept 2006

AZ Business Magazine Aug-Sept 2006 | Previous: Policy Agenda | Next: Home Run

 

Home Run

Playing The Economics Of Sports In The West Valley

Home Run

Playing the economics of sports in the West Valley

 

It’s not so much a case of “if you build it, they will come” that is turning the West Valley into a sports mecca. Rather, it’s the other way around. People have come to the West Valley in droves, setting the stage for an economic explosion and a sports megalopolis. The Arizona Cardinals stadium opens this month, the NHL Phoenix Coyotes play in adjacent Glendale Arena, five Major League Baseball teams conduct spring training at West Valley sites with two cities avidly seeking other teams to call their own and Phoenix International Raceway stages two major NASCAR races a year.

home_runEconomist Elliott Pollack says population growth came to the West Valley first. Contrary to the view of some, Pollack says, “The Phoenix area grows like a balloon in a very orderly manner, at its periphery. Growth got to the west side and the area was looking for an image.”

He calls Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs “a very smart lady,” who took advantage of the situation—a population explosion and an abundance of available land. The growth is happening not only in Glendale but in Peoria, Surprise, Goodyear, Avondale and Buckeye as well.

Cardinals Stadium and Glendale Arena essentially created a focal point for that area. “It gave the media something to focus on,” Pollack says. “The area would have grown anyway, but now with a much better image than before.”

Julie Frisoni, marketing and communication director for the city of Glendale, agrees. “Growth is driving the West Valley expansion,” she says. “Much of the East Valley is built up and developed. In the next 15 to 20 years, 40 percent of all growth will be west of the 101 (Agua Fria Freeway).”
People moving to the West Valley expect good housing, quality jobs, entertainment and sporting options, restaurants and shopping opportunities, Frisoni says. “Glendale always has been a bedroom community, a place where people lived and went somewhere else to work and for entertainment. Growth demands the amenities you’re seeing spring up.”

With growth comes soaring land prices. When the deal for the Glendale Arena was struck in 2001, agricultural land there was selling for $2 a square foot. Today, commercial land at the Westgate City Center in Glendale carries a price tag of as much as $25 a square foot. In seven to 10 years, Westgate will have 6 million square feet of retail and restaurants.

Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC, a West Valley economic development organization, says the sports explosion is having a huge dual impact—direct and indirect—on the West Valley economy. The direct impact is fairly easy to calculate. For example, Lunsford says, each of the two NASCAR races are worth $200 million to $250 million to the local economy, and the 2008 NFL Super Bowl, $250 million to $300 million. Add to the mix the Fiesta Bowl and the NCAA Bowl Championship games, plus the hundreds of events, concerts and meetings to be held in the Arizona Cardinals stadium and Glendale Arena and the economic impact is huge, he says.

Spring training is yet another economic engine. The Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers train in Surprise, the Milwaukee Brewers are in the Maryvale area of Phoenix and the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners share a stadium in Peoria. Glendale and Goodyear are on the hunt for Major League teams and appear serious about building their own stadiums. “In two years we could end up with eight teams in the West Valley,” Lunsford says.

Frisoni says Glendale has entered into an exclusive agreement with teams to discuss a potential spring training site. She won’t say how many or which teams the city is targeting or where a stadium site would be. “We are continuing to move forward,” Frisoni says. “We expect a resolution very soon.”
Meanwhile, the Goodyear City Council in March approved a site for a new spring training complex and gave the City Manager’s Office authority to seek Major League teams. Goodyear Mayor Jim Cavanaugh says the complex would be located on the Woods’ Family property east of Estrella Parkway near Yuma Road. The ballpark complex would include commercial, office, hospitality and residential uses.

AZ Business MagazineLunsford notes the indirect impact of the West Valley’s sports explosion is the retail and service development that those kinds of activities spawn.
Economist Pollack sees a change overtaking the West Valley, particularly in the Westgate City Center complex. “There was a lot of economic development going on during construction of the stadium and arena, bringing in retail and more revenues,” he says. “Hopefully the concept will be that people will go there, eat, shop, go to a game or a concert and then go home. Now, they go to a Coyotes game, get out of their car, see the game, get back in their car, and go home. There are not a lot of places to eat on the west side, and that will change.

“It’s not that the arenas created the growth, they created a focal point for growth. It’s going to be a sports and retail mecca that people from other parts of the Valley will go to see games and concerts.”

www.westmarc.org

 

 

Arizona Business Magazine Aug/Sept 2006

 

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