Tag Archives: land


UA program secures land-rights win in Belize

The Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program of the (UA) University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of of Law has achieved another groundbreaking legal victory, this time before the Caribbean Court of Justice.

In a final resolution of the Maya land rights case before the highest court for Belize, the Caribbean Court of Justice affirmed the existence of Maya customary land tenure, significantly advancing the developing worldwide jurisprudence on indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and resources.

The Caribbean Court of Justice recently announced its judgment affirming the 2013 holding of the Court of Appeal of Belize that the Maya indigenous people of southern Belize have rights to the lands they customarily have used and occupied. In the judgment, the court affirmed that these traditional land rights, belonging to some 38 Maya villages spread out over most of Belize’s Toledo District, constitute property within the meaning of the provisions of the Belize Constitution that generally protect property free from discrimination.

For more than a decade, the IPLP Program has worked with Maya leaders and representative organizations to secure Maya rights to their traditional lands and resources. The judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice is based on a novel legal theory developed by UA Regents’ Professor James Anaya, the co-director of the IPLP Program, in collaboration with the Montana-based Indian Law Resource Center. That theory, drawn from an evolving body of domestic and international precedents and published in the inaugural 1998 issue of the Yale Human Rights and Development Journal, was adopted by the Belize Supreme Court in 2007 and 2010 and upheld by the Court of Appeal of Belize in 2013.

IPLP attorneys Seánna Howard, Maia Campbell and Marina Waters, along with IPLP students participating in the College of Law’s International Human Rights Advocacy Workshop, worked with Anaya on the Belize case. Staff and students conducted research, helped draft court documents and traveled to Belize to assist in coordinating efforts with the Maya leaders and local counsel Antoinette Moore, who was retained by the IPLP Program to argue the case before the courts of Belize. Also assisting as local counsel in the later stages of the litigation was Monica Magnusson, who is the first licensed Maya attorney in Belize. Moira Gracey, an alumnus of the IPLP Program and now a practicing attorney, joined the IPLP team to take a leading role in developing the case as it made its way through the lower courts to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

“This judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice sets an important precedent worldwide, building upon ever-greater recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples internationally,” Anaya said, explaining that the judgement “reinforces the international standard that indigenous peoples have collective property rights based on their own customary land tenure systems, even when they do not have a formal title or other official recognition of those rights, and that states are bound to recognize and protect those rights.”

Complementing and informing the domestic litigation, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an agency of Organization of American States, issued a report in 2004 finding in favor of Maya land rights in Belize in terms similar to the recent judgment. The IPLP Program, which, along with the Indian Law Resource Center, litigated the case before the Inter-American Commission, also has assisted Maya leaders to raise the land-rights issue to United Nations bodies.

The Caribbean Court of Justice order, entered into on consent of the parties, requires the government of Belize to take measures to identify and protect Maya property and other rights arising from customary land tenure and to abstain from interference with these rights unless consultation occurs in order to obtain Maya consent. This means that the government of Belize may not issue any leases, grants, permits, concessions or contracts to lands or resources authorizing logging, petroleum, mineral extraction or any other activities that would affect Maya property rights.

With this final recognition and protection of rights by the highest court in Belize, the Maya people can refocus their attention on governance-building and strengthening their communities, a process that will guide other indigenous nations.

The IPLP Program provides training and promotes research on issues concerning indigenous peoples worldwide. It offers legal assistance to indigenous peoples and their communities in matters before domestic and international human rights forums. 


Vanessa Hickman discusses trust land in Arizona

Arizona State Land Commissioner Vanessa Hickman

Arizona State Land Commissioner Vanessa Hickman

Arizona State Land Commissioner Vanessa Hickman manages the leasing, sale and highest use of roughly 9.2 million acres of Arizona State Trust land, a huge portion of which is meant for K-12 education. As the president of the Western States Land Commissioners Association, to which Phoenix is the winter conference host Jan. 4 through 8 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, Hickman answered questions about important land issues.

Sales in past two years: $100
Sales proposals in the pipeline: $1B
Commercial ground leases being negotiated in urban areas: $1B over term
ASLD has negotiated and approved: 3 solar leases and 3 wind farms on state trust land


The effects of these acts, as they continue and are expanded, could have major impacts on State Trust Lands and other lands across the state. They have the potential to severely restrict development opportunities, require additional off-sets and set-asides and subsequently lower land values for most types of urban and rural lands. The ultimate impacts could severely hinder economic development and land values in Arizona for years to come.

A TRUSTED LEGACY – When Arizona became a state in 1912, it was endowed with 10 million acres of land to be held in trust and to benefit public institutions, most of which is dedicated to K-12 education. Today, there are about 9.26 million acres still held in trust. Here is where they fall.

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The most important thing land management agencies, private development entities and all interested parties can do is engage. We need to study and understand the proposals, such as the new CWA rule regarding Army Corps 404 jurisdiction, and make comments to the appropriate federal agencies regarding out findings and opinions. We need to understand the type, number and extent of new species being proposed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for listing as endangered species and be prepared to make our comments and opinions known. We need to question all new actions, be proactive to every degree possible and be prepared to deal with possible listings of proposed threatened or endangered species through responding with sound science, exploring available options, including candidate conservation agreements with assurances, habitat conservation plans and any other means to limit the ultimate impacts of exiting of proposed endangered species. We need to collaborate — public and private sector — as interested and impacted parties and work together and with the federal agencies to make our positions known and work toward equitable solutions.



The land department has historically sold and leased land for conservation purposes. One example would be the long-term ground lease of state land for mitigation due to development impacting habitat of a threatened or endangered species. The state could also enter into agreements for mitigation banks, a partnership where a state land lessee could pay for and provide for conservation of state lands, receive credits for impacted 404 washes in order to develop other state or private lands, or sell credits to other parties generation additional compensation for the trust. The motivation of a developer would be to generate revenue for the sale of credits or to have a reliable and secure source of mitigation or conservation lands, which they would need to secure in order to allow their project to go forward, pursuant to requirements of federal law.


Mining is an important component of the Arizona State Land Department’s (ASLD) land
and resource management portfolio. The ASLD manages mining and mineral activity by
authorizing mineral exploration, production, aggregate development, oil and gas leases, and
Special Land Use Permits for a variety of other revenue-producing, mining-related activities.
Income to the Trust from mining and mineral activity is generated primarily from royalties
paid on mineral production. Total income to the Trust during fiscal year 2014 was more than
$16 million. Well over half of that revenue was generated by copper production.
Interest in mining exploration has remained constant throughout the years and is
spread throughout the Trust land portfolio. Over the past three fiscal years, the ASLD has
processed thousands of mineral-related applications with two-thirds of those for mineral
exploration. Mining activity on State Trust lands are important economic drivers to local
communities by generating jobs and supporting local and regional businesses. Mining
production contributes important resources and economic benefits to our state and national
manufacturing needs. — Richard Thompson, Director, Natural Resource Division, ASLD


Occasionally, land owners and managers are faced with situations that have a negative
effect on the value and use of their property. For example, one landowner may find
the economic value of his parcel of land is diminished because it is trapped within the
boundaries of another land owner where it lacks physical, feasible or legal access of any
kind. When that trapped land is located within the boundaries of federally owned land, such
as a military reservation or national monument, the solution can become very complex. A
tool of land owners and managers that is thought to have value in solving such ownership
problems is the “land exchange.”
The Arizona State Land Commissioner may now conduct land exchanges following a
2012 amendment to the State Constitution, as referred by the legislature and approved by
the voters. Proposed land exchanges will take time to complete and will be subject to many
procedural requirements. Final approval is conditioned upon a favorable, statewide vote. The
Arizona State Land Department is now implementing this program.
— Richard Thompson, Director, Natural Resource Division, ASLD


Monies generated from the permanent trust fund, and expendable revenues generated from things such as leases and permits are distributed directly to the trust beneficiaries. The permanent trust fun now totals $4.5B, which is twice what it was only five years ago. Sales and commercial leases account for the majority of revenue generated by the ASLD and average about 80 percent of our revenues


Big Deals: Land, June 2014 – July 2014

azre_big_dealsThere’s no such thing as a “small” deal in this industry, coming out of a recession. However, it’s the big deals, and the brokers who make them, that make the market an interesting one to watch. In every issue, AZRE publishes the top five notable sales and leases for a period of 60 days (one month out from publication) based on research compiled by Cassidy Turley and Colliers International with CoStar.

Top 5 Notable Sales (June 1, 2014 to July 31, 2014) Source: Cassidy Turley Research Department, Colliers International and CoStar.

Land Sales

1. Lincoln Road and 56th Street, Paradise Valley
12 acres; $38.7M
BUYER: Cullum Homes
SELLER: Crown Realty & Development, Inc.
Listing BrokerAGE: Nathan & Associates

2. Signal Butte and Guadalupe, Mesa
128.76 acres; $21,623,412
BUYER: Blandford Homes
SELLER: Jerry Ivy Trust

3. N. 130th Ave., Surprise
160 acres; $14,065,413
BUYER: Vistancia West Construction LP
Listing Brokerage: TNT Boys LLC

4. 1350 N. Priest Dr. — Rhythm Subdivision, Chandler
29.20 acres; $11,275,290
BUYER: Mattamy Homes
SELLER: Property Reserve, Inc.
Listing Brokerage: Property Reserve, Inc.

5. 708 S. Lindon Ln., Tempe
14.60 acres; $8.75M
BUYER: Capstone Properties Corp.
SELLER: Cook Native America Ministries
Listing Brokerage: Berkadia

Dick's Sporting Goods distribution warehouse, Goodyear

Industrial Evolution: West Valley poised for land grab

Dick’s Sporting Goods built a 720KSF distribution center in Goodyear to service its West Coast stores.

A California-based investor erected a 400KSF spec shell in Surprise’s Southwest Railplex business park.

Corporate giants, Macy’s, Amazon, Sub-Zero, Marshall’s/TJ Maxx, Southwest Products and WinCo have landed or expanded their vast West Valley industrial operations within the last two years.

Even more companies are eyeing potential stakes in the burgeoning industrial parks springing up in once sleepy bedroom communities west of Phoenix.

With the recession in their rear-view mirrors, local, national and international companies are revving up manufacturing and distribution operations, and the West Valley is poised to be a big beneficiary of their expansion plans.

Justin LeMaster, Cushman & Wakefield

Justin LeMaster, Cushman & Wakefield

Available and affordable land, a deep labor pool, business-friendly state and local governments and top-notch transportation corridors contribute to the West Valley’s desirability, said Justin LeMaster, Cushman & Wakefield’s director for industrial properties.

Farsighted developers are already master-planning vast spreads of land, setting up infrastructure and even building large-scale spec structures that can accommodate another industrial giant or get sliced and diced to accommodate several smaller operations.

The developers — along with city and state economic development specialists — want their properties primed to snag the business when the lookers become movers, LeMaster said.

“Smart, creative developers will make the West Valley a successful high-growth market for years to come,” he said.

The numbers confirm the trend.

An impressive 4.5 MSF — nearly 94 percent of the metro area industrial construction started or completed in 2013 — is in the West Valley, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s Q4 Industrial Report.

Q4 absorption was 1.96 MSF, and only 15.3 MSF of the West Valley’s 90.7 MSF total industrial inventory was still available at year’s end.

Nevertheless, 4.5 MSF is a significant amount of new inventory for a post-recession market, and, in fact, it boosted Valleywide industrial vacancy rates above 12 percent.

Anthony Lydon, Jones Lang LaSalle

Anthony Lydon, Jones Lang LaSalle

Industry experts aren’t worried.

“The new, grown-up, industrial tenants coming to market right now are looking for 300KSF, 400KSF and above,” said Anthony Lydon, Jones Lang LaSalle managing director for Supply Chain & Logistics Solutions.

Less than half of the West Valley’s available space meets that criteria, and a few big employers could snatch that up in a flash, he said.

Like LeMaster, Lydon expects that to happen sooner rather than later.

“Over the next 24 to 36 months, the Valley, and the West Valley in particular, will see significant new job creation,” he said.

So what makes the West Valley suddenly so attractive to the industrial users?

“Economics and location,” said Pat Feeney, CBRE senior vice president for industrial services.

Cost is key
Of the metro area’s three major industrial hubs ­— the airport area, the Tempe/Chandler corridor and the West Valley — the first two are nearly out of developable land, Feeney said. And scarcity makes that land pricey, especially for a large user.

Pat Feeney, CBRE

Pat Feeney, CBRE

A skilled and diverse labor force that moved west when the home builders did is another major factor, he said.

“Nearly 70,000 people live in Goodyear, but only 14,000 or 15,000 work in Goodyear,” Feeney said.

When big employers like Sub-Zero, Amazon and Macy’s held job fairs for their new West Valley digs, they typically attracted eight to 10 qualified applicants for every position, he said.

“They all shared that they were so happy they could pick the cream of the crop,” Feeney said. “It’s a really big draw.”

David Krumwiede, Lincoln Property Company

David Krumwiede, Lincoln Property Company

Staffing a large warehouse is a major economic concern, especially for companies with labor-intensive, e-commerce picking systems, said David Krumwiede, executive vice president for Lincoln Property Company, which owns 6 MSF in its four-state Desert West Region, 2.4 MSF of that in the West Valley, including Goodyear AirPark and 10 Lincoln.

Arizona’s main competition for the big industrial users looking to establish or expand operations in the West is California’s Inland Empire, Krumwiede said.

While the Inland Empire’s construction costs are comparable to Arizona’s, labor costs in Arizona, a right-to-work state, are much lower, he said.

“We are extremely competitive with California’s Inland Empire if a user has more people than trucks,” Krumwiede said.

And big energy consumers, such as companies employing sophisticated e-commerce logistics technology, can save as much as 30 percent to 40 percent in operating costs by locating in Arizona instead of California, Lydon said.

But possibly the biggest economic incentive for many industrial users is Arizona’s much more favorable tax basis, Krumwiede said.

All of the West Valley’s large planned business hubs have designated areas that are Foreign Trade Zone capable, and that’s a big selling point for companies that do significant international business in parts or products, Krumwiede said.

“If a company qualifies, it can see a 72 percent reduction in property taxes,” Feeney said. “It’s a tremendous benefit.”

And a benefit none of the nearby states can offer, he said.

Such issues make Arizona, especially the West Valley, where land is available and affordable, a clear economic winner over California.

Location, location, location
Second only to the West Valley’s attractive economics, is its advantageous location, less than half-a-day’s drive from the southern California ports — a major consideration for retailers and e-commerce leaders like Amazon, as well as manufacturers like Sub-Zero, according to the experts.

Rob Martensen, Colliers International

Rob Martensen, Colliers International

“If you can get out of traffic and get closer to the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, you can make that in six hours,” said Rob Martensen, Colliers International vice president.

That means truck drivers can log a round trip and still stay within federal guidelines regarding length of time on the road, a feat not so easy to accomplish from the East Valley.

And for companies distributing products regionally — Macy’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example — the completion of the Loop 303 will forge the final freeway link that can speed trucks to and around cities and states north and west of Phoenix.

“It will open the gateway,” LeMaster said. “Companies want to be in Phoenix, and the West Valley will be the industrial hub of Phoenix with the (Loop 303/I-10) interchange.”

Overall, the combo of favorable attributes will ensure the West Valley lands on the short list for large and small industrial users for the next decade or so, Krumwiede said.

“The companies that are already out there — Amazon, Target, Costco, PetSmart, Staples, Macy’s — are all household names. It’s a great start. We’ll see more of those,” he said.

“My vision is that a lot of that vacant land will be put into production in the next five to 10 years.”

Real Estate Investments

Including Real Estate Investments in Your Retirement Portfolio

Are you aware that you can use your retirement account to purchase real estate?

Many financial advisors, accountants, attorneys, and real estate professionals are unaware of this option, as are individual investors.

IRA’s and Qualified Plans can provide funds for a variety of real estate transactions, including raising capital, bridge financing, raw land, purchasing and developing commercial property, buying leases, and many more.

After determining which type of plan best suits your needs and requirements, you may decide to control your own investment decisions and opt for the self-directed form of any of the available retirement plans. The majority of financial service companies (banks, insurance companies, brokerage firms) limit the kinds of investments that can be made to stock market based assets, or make investment recommendations part of their service. Instead, you can choose an independent administration firm that encourages and supports your desire to control your own investment decisions in what you know best — real estate.

At Vantage Self-Directed Retirement Plans we neither limit your investment choices nor give you investment advice. You are encouraged to maximize the potential of your retirement assets as you see fit. We offer free weekly educational workshops which are designed to help investors gain knowledge of self-directed investment transactions. We request all documents necessary to process transactions, receive investment income and pay investment expenses, and provide the required reporting to the IRS.

The bottom line is that you can control your retirement plan and self-direct it into investments other than, or in addition to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

We invite you to visit our website, VantageIRAs.com, where you will find time-saving video tutorials, visual flowcharts, and user-friendly investment purchase checklists to help you gain confidence about the flexibility of these powerful investment vehicles.

For more information, contact JP Dahdah, CEO, Vantage Self-Directed Retirement Plans, (480) 306-8404.