Tag Archives: m.m. sundt

Grand Canyon University; Photo by Shavon Rose for AZ Big Media

Arizona’s Valley of the Scholars

Phoenix may be built on a grid system, but it’s not too hyperbolic to say all roads (and, one day, light rail routes) lead to Arizona State University.

It’s the theory of diffusion of innovations, says Sundt Construction’s Business Development Manager Ryan Abbott. The theory, which has been around since Everett Rogers published a book about it in the ‘60s, suggests how cultures change and adapt to new ideas. What it takes for inertia to kick in on a cultural change is innovators (first 2.5 percent), early adopters (13.5 percent) and an early majority (34 percent). For an idea to carry, Abbott says, it has to reach a tipping point of 15 to 18 percent.

“That is exactly what the university and city did in downtown Phoenix,” says Abbott. “They started by innovating ways of being multiple places at the same time, using integrated technology, synergistic relationships, taking full advantage of mass transportation.  Next, they brought in early adopters — Millennials who wanted to understand and report on society. Where better to be than fully immersed in it at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism?”

Phoenix gets schooled
Sundt Construction built the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, a bright orange and maroon building that sits along Central Avenue and very much serves as the front door of the ASU downtown campus. It was completed even before the first dorms, Taylor Place, were done. The university sits right along the Central and Van Buren light rail stop, which shuttles thousands of students a day to and from classes.

Years later, Sundt was asked to build the downtown’s campus’ Sun Devil Fitness building by the YMCA across the street.

“When we were selected to build ASU’s Sun Devil Fitness, (the university was) approaching the fulcrum that pulls the early majority with it,” says Abbott. “They had a reason for adaptive, creative people to be downtown; now, they were creating the places that keep them there.”

“Part of ASU’s mission is to deliver positive impact in the local community, where we are socially embedded,” university spokesman Mark Johnson says.

Universities serve as the catalyst for business attraction, with its well-educated labor force, as well as a hub for the Millennial generation that is changing the way society looks at work and life.

“At the nucleus of that new societal space is the university supplying its innovation, early adopters and early majority,” says Abbott. “The universities (in downtown Phoenix) are landlords to fantastic restaurants, creators of walkways that connect and amenities that inspire,” Abbott says. “And now that they’ve pulled in the early majority, the late majority and laggards are only to follow.”

Sunbelt Holdings (Portland on the Park) and P.B. Bell are two examples of the Valley’s largest commercial companies breaking ground on their first urban projects in Phoenix. Both companies are known for their master-planned projects, though multifamily trends and the growth of Phoenix’s Millennial population, due to higher ed facility expansions, have caught their eye.

“The expansion of ASU and GCU moving into the downtown area did have an influence on our decision to proceed with developing an apartment community in downtown Phoenix,” says P.B. Bell President Chapin Bell, “We believe that there will be a need for additional housing for both the staff and students that choose to live near the downtown campuses. Also, we expect that the addition of these campuses will generate a new excitement and energy attracting new businesses and downtown dwellers outside of the student population as well.”

P.B. Bell was awarded the adaptive reuse project of the 100-year-old Barrister Place (colloquially referred to as the “Psycho” building, because it appeared in the 1960 film) for a multifamily development.

Downtown Phoenix has been working for more than a decade toward making plans for adaptive reuse and infill projects easier and incentivized.

Kimber Lanning, who founded Local First, was one of the first innovators of a “new societal space” in Phoenix. She actively worked to launch the pilot program nearly a decade ago to streamline the process for adaptive reuse projects in order to retain young, vibrant minds.

“When I started Local First, it was on intuition,” she says. “The kids coming to my store (record store, Stinkweeds) were leaving. I started to think about what do those cities have that connects them to those cities and not Phoenix. They were acting in a local manner. We were too spread out. I set out to create districts. We need to encourage small business development. The brightest people want to be where there are cool restaurants, for instance.”

P.B. Bell Companies has also broken ground this year on Velaire at Aspera, a community near Midwestern University’s campus in Glendale.

“The nearby university is expanding, which will create a  need for new, quality housing,” Bell says.

Strength in numbers
Universities aren’t just attracting new development. They’re actively participating.

“SkySong and the Chandler Innovation Center are strong examples of the kinds of projects that go beyond what you would expect a university to be doing, but provide linkage both to the university and to facilities attractive to new businesses,” says ASU’s Johnson. “We have regular conversations with municipalities around the Valley and around the state about projects that help build the larger infrastructure for economic development. We take those very seriously, but we don’t discuss them until they reach a greater level of fruition.”

Grand Canyon University (GCU), a for-profit, private Christian university, has more than doubled its footprint in the last seven years and plans to move more than 2,000 employees into West Phoenix with an office complex that will break ground next year. The university has 3,500 employees, is expecting 25,000 on-campus students and have half a million annual visitors to its arena. The school also invested $10M into Maryvale Golf Course to bring additional economic activity to the west side of Phoenix and is renovating 700 homes in the neighboring community with Habitat for Humanity over the next few years.

“We’re in the midst of a $1M partnership with the Phoenix Police Department to increase the police presence and combat crime in the areas surrounding our campus, which has had a huge impact on the community,” says GCU President and CEO Brian Mueller.

On top of those and other investments, GCU’s economic impact is about $1B annually, according to Elliott D. Pollack & Co.

“The biggest difference (between GCU and universities such as ASU) is that we are doing it as an enterprise, which means we are using investment dollars to build out a university that can make an impact in numerous ways in the community, all while also paying taxes back to the city, county, state and federal government,” Mueller says. “We’re having the same impact as other universities by producing more and more high-quality graduates and raising the intellectual knowledge of the community, but we’re doing it as a tax-paying enterprise, which adds a second benefit to the area.”

The university also claims to have more than 2,000 students enrolled in the fall semester from California.

“Arizona used to lose thousands of college students, mostly to California, who were seeking a private Christian education,” Mueller says. “Now, those students are staying home. What’s more, the trend has completely reversed, as we’re attracting thousands of students from California and other states to our campus because of the low tuition costs and affordable room and board rates. Those tuition dollars are now coming into the state and are being reinvested right here on our campus, which is a huge plus for Arizona. We hope that a percentage of those students will remain in Arizona after they graduate and build their careers here.”

Ryan Companies, which is working on the 2MSF State Farm build-to-suit at Marina Heights in Tempe and the ASU Research Park, specializes in office development. Nearly all of its office product is affected in some way by university expansions in Phoenix Metro, says Molly Ryan Carson, vice president of development for Ryan Companies.

“The search for educated employees is universal,” she says. “Universities are certainly an important factor in many real estate decisions.”

Universities are surrounded by amenities, such as restaurants and recreational spaces, that appeal to prospective office tenants.

“Having a solid university like ASU in close proximity is viewed as a definite benefit by the tenants we are seeing in the market,” says Carson. “The opportunity to be near tens of thousands of potential employees is very appealing. Additionally, a university often is located in an area rich with amenities, again, a critical requirement for tenants.”

GCU has its eyes on the same type of growth.

“An estimated 1.2 million STEM jobs will be available in Arizona by 2018, yet our universities are producing just half the number of graduates needed to fill this demand,” says Mueller. “We’ve launched programs in computer science, information technology and engineering to help close that gap and are working with industry leaders in Arizona to ensure that we’re producing graduates with the types of skills they are seeking. When we grow out to 25,000 students in the next 4-5 years, it is our intention that 70 percent of those students will be studying in high-demand STEM areas that lead to good-paying jobs. That will have a major impact on the local economy and help attract businesses to Arizona that rely on having that workforce in place.”

Frank Lloyd Wright, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Del E. Webb: A Pioneer In Arizona's Construction Industry

From high school dropout to New York Yankees owner to renowned construction mogul, Del E. Webb created a company that evolved into one of the largest developers in the state and the U.S., thus earning him the crown as the most influential person in Arizona’s commercial real estate history over the past 100 years.

Born in Fresno, Calif., Webb cut his academic career short in 1915, taking an interest in carpentry and baseball. For nearly 13 years, Webb worked as a carpenter strictly for companies with baseball teams in order to make his living and stay close to his sports passion. In 1927, at the age of 28, Webb moved to Phoenix after contracting typhoid fever. The next year, he began focusing solely on construction.

Del E. Webb, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011His first projects included rebuilding a Sears store, local grocery markets and public sector projects, especially schools. With these jobs, Webb was able to stay afloat during the Great Depression and keep his company moving forward.

After a combined project with The White Miller Construction Company, the Del E. Webb Construction Company was well on its way to being one of the top contractors in Arizona. He became so successful that in 1945 Webb and two other partners purchased the New York Yankees for about $3M. Webb was a co-owner until 1964.

During World War II, Webb was contracted to build air bases and military installations in Arizona and Southern California, but it wasn’t until 1960 that Webb’s construction would truly take the housing industry by storm.

Webb’s Sun City housing project addressed the need for senior communities and prospered well into the 1990s. With a shopping and recreation center, golf course and five house models, Sun City truly put Webb on the real estate map and even landed him on the cover of Time Magazine. Today, Webb’s Sun Cities continue to grow.

In 2001, the Del Webb Corp. was purchased by Pulte Homes, which has since merged with Centex Corp. to become the PulteGroup.

Webb died at age 75 in Rochester, Minn., following surgery for lung cancer, but his legacy lives on. There is the Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University, the Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City, the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts in Wickenburg, and the Del E. Webb Outpatient Center in Prescott Valley, just to name a few.

For more information about Del E. Webb’s PulteGroup, visit pultegroupinc.com.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Centennial Series: Most Influential People In Arizona Commercial Real Estate

As part of AZRE magazine’s Centennial Series, find out who made the list of the most influential people in Arizona Commercial Real Estate.

Most Influential People In Arizona Commercial Real Estate

Roy P. Drachman Sr. (1906 – 2002)
Roy Drachman Realty Company, Real Estate Development

Roy Drachman, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011Known as “Mr. Tucson,” Roy Drachman’s love for the city helped put Tucson on the map. A real estate tycoon who landed the Hughes Missile Systems Company site, Drachman also petitioned to build better streets, waterways and schools in his beloved city. He is responsible for bringing Major League Baseball teams to Arizona for spring training (the Cleveland Indians began training in Tucson in 1947). Throughout his career, Drachman donated generously to the University of Arizona, mostly for its cancer research. He funded a scholarship at the UA College of Architecture for upperclassmen who show proficiency in design. UA named its Institute for Land and Regional Development Studies after him. (Photo: Drachman family)

Grady Gammage, Jr.
Gammage & Burnham, Attorneys At Law, Real Estate Lawyer

Arizona Commercial Real Estate, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011For the past 20 years, Grady Gammage, Jr. has practiced law at Gammage & Burnham, taking on real estate projects such as redevelopment, high-rise buildings and planned communities. Gammage was a board member of the Central Arizona Project for two, six-year terms, beginning in 1996. Gammage’s urban mixed projects in Tempe won him three architectural awards. He is also affiliated with Arizona State University as an adjunct professor at the College of Law, the College of Architecture and Urban Design, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Morrison Institute. (Photo: Gammage & Burnham)

William Haug
Jennings Haug & Cunningham, Real Estate Lawyer

Arizona Commercial Real Estate, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011William Haug has dedicated much of his career to developing and establishing construction and surety law in Arizona. His leadership in the practice was recognized with his induction in the inaugural Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame for his role in developing the practice of construction law. Haug developed his practice in complex dispute resolution in construction, fidelity and surety law. For more than 35 years, Haug has been an arbitrator and mediator. He joined the firm in 1981, became one of the original construction lawyers in Arizona, and paved the way for the practice to develop as construction across the state grew with its population. (Photo: Jennings Haug & Cunningham)

Sam Kitchell (1923 – 2006)
Kitchell Construction, General Contractor

Arizona Commercial Real Estate, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011Originally named Kitchell Phillips Contractors, Sam Kitchell started the company in 1950 with then partner James B. Phillips. Its construction of Safeway stores and local schools helped Kitchell evolve into one of the top 10 largest private companies in Arizona and one of the top 75 construction companies in the country. One of Kitchell’s main focuses included healthcare projects, which led to the construction of Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, the Mayo Clinic of Scottsdale, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Scripps Memorial Hospital in California, to name a few. (Photo: Kitchell Construction)

J. Daryl Lippincott (1924 – 2008)
CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), Real Estate Broker

Arizona Commercial Real Estate, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011Daryl Lippincott directed the CBRE Phoenix office from its opening in 1952. With retail stores such as Goldwater’s, Diamond’s, Leonard’s Luggage and Switzers, Lippincott helped build Arizona’s first shopping mall — Park Central. In 1957, Lippincott helped the Phoenix office expand to other services, including mortgage loans, property management and was later announced as the head of CBRE’s Southwest Division. Lippincott shaped both CBRE and the commercial real estate industry with his retail and commercial projects. (Photo: CBRE)

John F. Long (1920 – 2008)
John F. Long Properties, Homebuilder

Arizona Commercial Real Estate, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011John F. Long symbolizes the Phoenix transition from desert to urban city. His 1954 Maryvale project, named after his wife, established a base for all future affordable housing in the Valley. With an emphasis on quality, Long also built the Solar One housing development, getting a head start on sustainable practices. Long’s projects were built with everything in mind; hospitals, golf courses and shopping centers, giving homeowners whatever they needed within close reach. As one of Arizona’s most influential builders, Long is in the Arizona Business Hall of Fame and was awarded the first WESTMARC Lifetime Achievement Award, which has since been named after him. (Photo: John F. Long Properties)

Rusty Lyon
Westcor, Retail Development and Management

Arizona Commercial Real Estate, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011During his more than 40 years as CEO of Westcor, Rusty Lyon led the way in retail development and continues to contribute to the public’s shopping needs. Retailers have turned Westcor into the largest owner of commercial real estate properties, with projects such as Scottsdale Fashion Square, Chandler Fashion Center, San Tan Village, Flagstaff Mall & The Marketplace, Prescott Gateway Mall, Biltmore Fashion Park and The Boulders Resort. (Photo: Macerich)

M. M. Sundt (1863 – 1942)
Sundt Construction Co., General Contractor

Arizona Commercial Real Estate, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011Sundt Construction was founded in 1890 by Mauritz Martinsen Sundt, a Norwegian ship carpenter who immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. The company’s early projects were homes and farm structures in northern New Mexico. In 1929, Sundt built a Methodist Church in Tucson. The project was directed by John Sundt, one of Mauritz’s 12 children. John liked Tucson, and decided to stay. Sundt‘s clients today are industrial, commercial and government projects, both nationally and internationally. In 1936 the company was awarded a contract for six projects, one of which was the expansion of the University of Arizona’s Tucson campus. In 1956, Sundt began construction on one of its biggest military projects, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. (Photo: Sundt Construction)

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959)
Architect, Interior Designer

Arizona Commercial Real Estate, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011Frank Lloyd Wright spent most of his life designing homes, buildings and museums that changed the world of architecture. Wright designed more than 1,000 projects and more than 500 were actually built. Thirteen are in Arizona and are some of his most famous designs. Wright’s summer home, Taliesin West in Scottsdale, is also home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s international headquarters, where an archive of all his sketches and projects is housed. ASU students have a constant reminder of Wright’s architectural genius with the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, named after Dr. Grady Gammage, ASU’s president from 1933 to 1959. (Photo: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation)

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011