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Save the Family, Valley Partnership, and Gorman & Co. saw a promising future for a large population of Mesa’s homeless and poverty-stricken community in the Escobedo at Verde Vista development.

Community project lays foundation for homeless, poverty-stricken

Last November, members of the commercial real estate industry helped turn a dilapidated, World War II housing facility into one where a community can thrive.

Volunteers move rubber chips made from recycled tires across the playground.

Volunteers move rubber chips made from recycled tires across the playground.

Just a few months prior to the completion of Valley Partnership’s 2013 community project, the Escobedo at Verde Vista development, it was an abandoned complex that had fallen victim to poverty. Where others saw hopeless housing, Save the Family, Valley Partnership, and Gorman & Co. saw a promising future for a large population of Mesa’s homeless and poverty-stricken community. The three put their heads together and hands to work to bring light and life to this Mesa neighborhood that had been left in the dark.

For the past 26 years, Valley Partnership has selected a nonprofit organization to be the recipient of its community service project. Its 2013 selection was Save the Family, an organization that provides housing and life skills to the homeless and impoverished in the Phoenix Metro.

Long-time community project committee members Ed Hansen, Morgan Realty Advisors, and Janelle Schick, Schick Design Group.

Long-time community project committee members Ed Hansen, Morgan Realty Advisors, and Janelle Schick, Schick Design Group.

Even with 25 years and $3.5M of community projects up its sleeve, the Escobedo project brought new challenges and “firsts.” To begin, it was Valley Partnership’s first ground-up redevelopment project. The existing foundations were crumbling and had to be completely rebuilt.

“The original units were built to be housing for British and black Americans that were training at Falcon Field during World War II,” says Jacki Taylor, CEO of Save the Family Foundation. Post-war, the units served as segregated housing until eight years ago, when the City of Mesa began evacuating the buildings because of decreasing structural stability. Time and money were needed to get the housing to a habitable state and that is where “the dream team” came in.

Save the Family CEO Jacki Taylor, left, project co-chair Dena Jones, center, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Program Associate Erin Goodman.

Save the Family CEO Jacki Taylor, left, project co-chair Dena Jones, center, and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Program Associate Erin Goodman.

This development would require extensive construction, which brought Valley Partnership another “first” — the need for city approval and permits for a re-design. Since this was the first community project Valley Partnership had done in the City of Mesa, there were even more new rules and hoops to jump through. Despite the additional work required by all parties involved, the rebuilding of the Washington-Escobedo neighborhood “came together better than we could have hoped for,” said project co-chair Dena Jones.

The 70 units built were filled almost immediately after construction was completed. A waiting list for families hoping to join the community continues to grow. This project “totally changed the complexion of this neighborhood,” said Taylor. What used to be boarded-up, graffiti-laden and crumbling buildings is now a community of homes, classrooms, computer labs and gym facilities.

Logan Simpson Design architects Jeff Lothner and Jay Hicks look over a blueprint.

Logan Simpson Design architects Jeff Lothner and Jay Hicks look over a blueprint.

“We were all committed to making a difference and working together,” said Jones. “The teams from Gorman, Save the Family, City of Mesa, Tofel Construction and the project sponsors were so wonderful to work with and I cannot thank them enough for giving us the opportunity to take part in the legacy of Escobedo at Verde Vista.”

And the public has definitely noticed. Brian Swanton, AZ Market President for Gorman and Company Inc. said the Escobedo project “has been lauded for its success in revitalizing a boarded-up and vacant eyesore in the middle of this single-family neighborhood.”

What is in store for Valley Partnership’s 2014 project? They are in the final stages of deciding whom to partner up with for this year, but Jones knows that whomever they chose, Valley Partnership will be taking much of what they learned from the Escobedo project with them. “Our partnership is comprised of so many talented and hard working professionals committed to giving back. Engaging the committee members during the time we spend together and growing our committee will continue to be a focus for 2014.”

Valley Partnership Board of Directors

Valley Partnership Board of Directors

The "Class of 2014" advocates visit DMB Associates' masterplanned community Eastmark.

It takes two

Valley principals host young professionals in inaugural advocates program

A look around the room at a Valley Partnership Friday Morning Breakfast (FMB) reveals a who’s who of Arizona’s commercial real estate industry. You’ll see seasoned professionals sitting next to up-and-comers, and though these are an effective networking tool, Valley Partnership took the concept to the next level.

It created the Valley Partnership Advocates Program for young professionals. The program is a nine-month-long course for a “class” of 20 people under the age of 35 to meet with a new industry leader every month.

The inaugural program began last August and has included sessions hosted by prominent figures from DMB Associates, Inc., Vestar, Arizona State Land Department, Ryan Companies, Sunbelt Holdings, Evergreen Development, ASU and Macerich/WDP Partners. Many of the sessions were hosted by board members, including one held during a board meeting. “I did not understand the power of Valley Partnership and the people behind it until I attended that board meeting,” says advocate Nicole Mass, 35, Kitchell’s director of marketing.

The feeling is mutual. Bruce Pomeroy, founding principal at Evergreen Devco, has worked in the industry for 40 years. During that time, he has trained many young hires and has taught classes for the International Council of Shopping Centers. Pomeroy says of the session he hosted at Centerpointe in Goodyear that “the ‘students’ were very engaged and asked good questions.”

“I believe the most important issue was that the advocates wanted to spend more time with the developers during each monthly event,” says Vice President and General Counsel to Maven Universal Brett Hopper, who helped design the program. “We want to provide the advocates a greater opportunity to interact with senior executives and create long-lasting relationships.”

Stephanie Stephens, 27, marketing and project coordinator at Buesing, says the mentors emphasized the importance of getting involved in the real estate community. That typically starts with something as simple as the monthly Valley Partnership breakfasts, where Stephens heard about the program. Easton Mullen, 37, started his general contracting company Mullen Construction and Development in 2006 and has since built capital with the goal of becoming a developer. The advocates program, he says, created a foundation of contacts to use while his company evolves. “You can’t call these people up on the phone,” he says, “but if you’re part of the program, you can.”

The mentors encouraged community involvement and engagement within Valley Partnership’s committees and leadership roles. CBRE Sales Assistant Chris Marchildon, 28, was approached by board members at the suggestion of CBRE Executive Vice President Barry Gabel, about joining Valley Partnership’s Advocates Program.

sidebar“One of the first things I was told in this business was to ‘be a sponge,’” he says. “The second was to develop as many good relationships as you can along the way. Through the program, I was certainly provided the opportunity to learn success stories from the ground up as well as the chance to ‘soak up’ as much information as I could.”

Recent Denver transplant Kelly Kaminskas, 34, senior vice president at FirstBank, used the advocates program as an introduction to the industry. “It would have taken me years to piece together the information I received by being part of this group,” she says.

Tuition is $150. Applications are available on Valley Partnership’s website through July.

Marina Heights is a development partnership between Ryan Companies and Sunbelt Holdings. Fellow Valley Partnership member Cushman & Wakefield was awarded the leasing assignment.

A valley of partners

Partner-to-partner transactions building up the valley
one project at a time

When Valley Partnership was founded 27 years ago, it was on the principles of responsible development. It has since grown to thousands of members throughout the commercial real estate community — from subcontractors to some of the largest developers in Arizona.

Eastmark includes a partnership between DMB Associates and Marham COntracting Co.

Eastmark includes a partnership between DMB Associates and Markham Contracting Co.

“In 2014 and beyond, Valley Partnership developer companies are the leaders of almost every major commercial real estate project announced, including Marina Heights, the numerous announcements of deals at Eastmark, and Liberty Center at Rio Salado,” says Valley Partnership President and CEO Richard Hubbard.

The members have rallied behind the idea of partnership, Hubbard says.

“These developers use Valley Partnership partners for all construction disciplines related to the project including planning, design, architecture, general contracting, engineering and even law and accounting,” Hubbard says. “Many of those ‘partner-to-partner’ transactions have come from long-standing relationships created through Valley Partnership. I would say that every level of partner in Valley Partnership, from board member to sole proprietor, is participating in the current commercial real estate building activity in the Valley.”

Some companies, such as Evergreen Devco, take the partner-to-partner very seriously.

Valley Partnership Chair of the Board Doug Leventhal is the principal and COO of Evergreen Devco. Though Evergreen has focused much of its recent work in Denver, the company finds exclusive value in partnership with fellow VP members for Arizona projects.

“I can say that for all our Arizona work, we tend to work exclusively with the companies that see the value in Valley Partnership and either are active members or active sponsors,” Leventhal says. “Our general contractors, for example, need to be members or sponsors almost as a prerequisite to getting our business. Our architects, engineers, attorneys and title companies need to be members of Valley Partnership — or have a good reason why they are not! It’s important to Evergreen that we collectively support Valley Partnership since we all benefit from its mission to promote responsible development in the Valley. We are all connected in this unique way.”

Liberty Center at Rio Salado is a partnership between Liberty Property Trust and Markham Contracting Co.

Liberty Center at Rio Salado is a partnership between Liberty Property Trust and Markham Contracting Co.

That unique connection, as DMB Associates President Charley Freericks sees it involves Valley Partnership’s advocacy role for developers as well as a genuine passion for making Arizona a great place to live.

“Valley Partnership understands that real estate isn’t the only driver of the economy,” says Freericks. “We are the beneficiaries of a strong and growing economy and it’s in our interest to make this a great place to live.”

Freericks, who has been a member for 10 years, served on the board of directors, was chairman in 2009, and has sat on multiple committees.

Most of DMB Associates’ partners at the developers’ 6,000-acre masterplanned community of Eastmark – and around the Valley – are Valley Partnership members, Freericks says.

“Over the years, we have worked with so many contractors, consultants and service providers who are members it would be hard to name them all,” he says. “In fact it might be difficult to find any that aren’t members.”

Valley Partnership has multiple avenues for paving those partnerships. There are 10 committees, including one for an annual golf tournament and a community building project. One of the most popular and frequent member events, is the Friday Morning Breakfasts — a monthly morning panel discussion about an industry trend featuring local experts.

Freericks reflected on a breakfast about the impact and trade partnership Arizona has with Canada as a particularly helpful one for his masterplanned communities of Eastmark and Victory at Verrado, which target Canadian homebuyers.

“Valley Partnership attracts important speakers and hosts debates of candidates for state and local offices which helps me make better informed decisions,” he says. “The Valley Partnership advocacy team was a huge help to the Fighter Country Partnership efforts to bring the F-35 mission to Luke. This will impact our economy for generations to come. Valley Partnership’s role as the champion for moderate regulation has impacted all of our properties over the years and will continue to do so.”

Heather Markham, vice president of Markham Contracting Co., says her company has been a member of Valley Partnership since 1992 and is also a Stewardship Sponsor. Markham has attended breakfasts for the last five years and is one of the students in Valley Partnership’s inaugural Young Advocates Program. As a co-chair of the Community Project Committee, Markham says she also appreciate’s Valley Partnership’s commitment to networking and giving back to the community.

“I believe this involvement in the community is critical personally as well as professionally for everyone,” she says.

Markham has been self performing grading, paving and wet utilities civil infrastructure in the Southwest since 1977. Though Valley Partnership has only been around since 1987, Markham says the company has worked with many current Valley Partnership companies for nearly four decades. Partners include DMB Associates (Verrado and Eastmark), Macerich (Sonoran Crossing), Sunbelt Holdings (Vistancia), APS, Grayhawk Development, Lennar, Vintage Partners, MT Builders, HilgartWilson, Pulte, Atwell, Dibble Engineering, Wood Patel & Associates, Hoskin & Ryan, Siteworks, Speedie & Associates, Trench Shore Rentals, Alliance Bank of Arizona and Cemex.

“Valley Partnership plays a very strong role in responsible development of the commercial real estate community and provides an excellent venue for all the stakeholders in the process to come together and discuss issues and concerns as well as success stories,” she says. “This promotes strong partnerships between cities, counties, towns, state, land owners, developers, contractors, architects, engineers and every trade partner involved in making Arizona a great place to live and work.”


Meet the leaders in Valley Partnership

Much of the Valley’s growth would not be possible without the partnerships and advocacy supported by nonprofit Valley Partnership.

Chris-AnaradianChris Anaradian
Development Services Director, Town of Queen Creek
It’s Queen Creek’s time in the sun, boasts the town’s Development Services Director Chris Anaradian. Permit activity is “out of sight” and he cites his Valley Partnership involvement as a key ingredient while the town grows into its own.

“The situational awareness that Queen Creek gains from Valley Partnership is essential,” says Anaradian, who sits on Valley Partnership’s Board of Directors. “Knowing the current areas of focus and growth that our private partners are focused on helps us plan and build a better government and community for all. Having a voice when new legislation and alliances are being formed helps us better prepare to fund and administer the services our customers have come to expect and deserve.”

Anaradian is the former community development director and development services manager for the City of Tempe. He managed the 220-acre Tempe Town Lake and 500-acre Rio Salado Project during their initial five years. He also helped modernize multiple permitting and regulatory agencies and advocated for many developer-friendly shifts within the city, including those that precluded the Tempe light rail. Anaradian now has watched Queen Creek come through the economic recovery.

“It is now Queen Creek’s time in the sun, and so many opportunities lie ahead,” says Anaradian. “Our wash and trail system is poised to unite huge swaths of our community and become a defining geographic feature of life in Queen Creek. Large tracts of undeveloped hillside residential property are into entitlement, some of the last and most majestic in the Southeast Valley.”

Tim-BrislinTim Brislin
Vice President, Harvard Investments
Tim Brislin, an on-and-off member of Valley Partnership since 2004 who currently sits on the Board of Directors, has used organization’s networking opportunities to broaden Harvard Investment’s exposure and partnership options.

Harvard Investments is a land investment and masterplanned community development firm.
“Harvard is laser focused on executing its vision and plans for its masterplanned communities in Mesa, Queen Creek/San Tan Valley, the West Valley and in Prescott,” Brislin says. “Our Mesa project, Cadence at Gateway, is very exciting and we are making great progress on our first residential phase, as well as getting traction on our retail and high density residential components much earlier than anticipated.”

In 2007, Brislin welcomed his first son and ended his “five-year job interview” with Harvard Investments.

“In both cases I was at the starting line staring at a wide open track. Today, in addition to my wonderful wife and two boys, and thanks to Harvard’s long standing market reputation, the faith of our partners and hard work, we built a high quality portfolio of assets that we will harvest for years to come.”

What many don’t know about Harvard is that its Canadian parent company, The Hill Companies, is a major commercial developer of office and retail, Brislin says. The company has expansion plans to include industrial, office and multi-family assets.

“Our current planning efforts are highly focused on demographic trends locally and nationally and how we plan our communities for the long-term based on who are buyers are, what products they want and what type of community they will embrace,” Brislin says. “There are shifts going on that affect all aspects of the real estate development business.”

Kristina-LockeKristina Locke
Marketing/Business Development Manager, Hoskin Ryan Consultants, Inc.
Looking for the latest news on the golf tournament? Kristina Locke sits on the committee for two-year member Hoskin Ryan Consultants, Inc. Locke comes to Valley Partnership with more than a decade of marketing, advertising and business development achievements for Hoskin Ryan and its clients.

Hoskin Ryan finished off 2013 with four new clients. Locke is confident being a member of Valley Partnership will lead to meeting more potential clients.

“It does take a little while for people to get to know you and trust your firm,” she says. “We have formed great relationships and were educated on many different industry trends.”

One particular trend is healthcare. In 2013, Valley Partnership held a healthcare Friday Morning Breakfast attended by 250 members with speakers from Banner Health, Dignity and smaller medical office building develpers.

Jenifer-Davis-LuntJenifer Davis Lunt
Partner, Davis Enterprises
Davis Enterprises joined Valley Partnership last January — a big step for the closely held family business. Though Davis is one of the smaller development companies in the Valley and has a long history in the Valley, it has been a two-year sponsor of the organization. Davis Enterprises is actively involved in the identification, acquisition, development and management of real estate properties in Arizona.

Jenifer Davis Lunt became managing partner following an award-addled tenure at CBRE, where she became the first female at the Phoenix office named “Rookie of the Year,” for selling more than 100 properties totally more than $675M in value and 2.5MSF. In 2005, Davis Lunt was named CBRE’s No. 1 Investment Broker. The following year, her father retired from Davis Enterprises and named her partner and principal of a business her grandfather started.

“We are most proud of contributions Davis has made to the revitalization of Central Phoenix including the SWC of 7th Ave & McDowell, 4700 N. Central and Melrose Marketplace,” Davis Lunt says. The company is looking forward to the redevelopment of 21st Avenue and Deer Valley Road and 1015 S. Rural Rd., near ASU’s main campus.

Along those lines, Davis Lunt says a trend or issue she would like to see addressed by Valley Partnership is how the City of Phoenix can become more pedestrian, rail and bike dependent to allow for more retail and housing development in the urban core.

Rusty-MitchellRetired Lt. Col. Rusty Mitchell
Director of Luke Air Force Base Community Initiatives Team
Rusty Mitchell, director of Luke Air Force Base Community Initiatives Team, has been an ex-officio board member at Valley Partnership since 2005 and is the primary liason between the Air Force base, nine municipalities, Maricpa County and state officials.

“(Valley Partnership) has enabled me to network with major developers and discuss development issues in areas that we conduct flight operations,” he says. “This communication enables developers and landowners to be better informed of state statutes for compatible land use before they obligate time and money to a particular project.”

The partnership has been mutually beneficial. Before retiring, Mitchell served 22 years in the Air Force as a fighter pilot. It is through his community involvement and history with the Air Force that Mitchell has managed to bring enduring economic development to the base and Arizona.
“The over-whelming community support of the mission of Luke AFB has been recognized by the senior leadership of the Air Force and was a significant contributing factor in its selection as the largest F-35 training base and the recipient of an eventual 144 F-35’s,” he says.

The selection of Luke to be the primary pilot training center for the nation’s most advanced fighter will ensure the existence of Luke AFB for many decades to come, Mitchell says.
“Not only is Luke critical in the nation’s defense, producing the world’s greatest fighter pilots, but the fact that it contributes approximately $2B to the state’s economy every year will continue to infuse the state with much needed economic power.”


Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped recipient of Valley Partnership Community Project

Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped (AFH) today was selected as recipient of the 2014 Valley Partnership Community Project. The event is Nov. 15 at Perry Rehabilitation Center, 3164 E. Windsor Ave.

AFH is a human services organization whose primary mission is to provide quality, individualized services to those with physical or intellectual challenges in the least restrictive environment. It offers programs for adults with physical or intellectual challenges to assist them in achieving desired outcomes.

“This is a great opportunity for our people with disabilities to be able to have access to their own community, and be able to go outside and enjoy a safe environment,” said AFH center Director Robyn Ratcliff. “Several years back we began to develop a dream for our property. We just weren’t able to do it when the economy went in the other direction. This is huge. We are very excited.”

AFH has successfully helped the adults it serves find community employment in landscaping, restaurants, retail stores, hardware distribution and supermarkets. Center-based employment includes assembly, inspection, collation, mail services, sorting and packaging.

“We were so excited that the Board of Directors voted unanimously to select AFH as the 2014 community project recipient that we threw them (AFH) a surprise party to share this great news at our last committee meeting,” said Valley Partnership Project Co-chair Dena Jones, Director of Business Development for Shift Redevelopment.

“I believe that AFH won over many hearts on the selection committee because they work with the happiest people on earth who are truly appreciative of the smallest things in life,” Jones said.

Work at the center will include constructing a built-in grill, seating for outside dining, the re-purposing of a sports court, a landscape screen, and a sensory garden.

The other finalists for the 2014 Community Project were Boys Hope Girls Hope and Valley Life.

One of Valley Partnership’s cornerstones is community service. Each year, it selects a non-profit organization that can benefit from the skills, efforts and supplies provided by its partners to renovate and enhance facilities for children and those in need. Over the past 25 years, Valley Partnership has contributed more than $3.5 million to the community through these projects. For its 2013 Community Project, Valley Partnership selected Save the Family Foundation’s Escobedo at Verde Vista Affordable Housing Development in Mesa.

Dena Jones joins Shift Redevelopment

Dena Jones, HeadshotDena Jones joined Shift Redevelopment as the director of business development.

In the business development role, Jones will expand the relationships within Shift’s target markets. She is responsible for all sales activity in the company and ensuring the company reaches its growth objectives.  With the construction industry recovery in the Phoenix market, Shift is forecast to more than triple its size in 2014.  In addition to actively fostering new relationships and clients for the business, Jones is charged with hiring, developing, and training the company’s growing sales force through marketing and communication.  She serves on the executive management team and networks heavily with professional associations that support the commercial and residential real estate industries.

Jones also spearheads the philanthropic endeavors and community involvement for Shift Redevelopment. Community involvement includes nonprofit work on projects, serving on leadership boards and volunteering for charitable causes. She is the community project co-chair for Valley Partnership.

“Shift is repositioning itself for future growth.  We are excited to have Dena Jones on board as an integral member of our team. Her knowledge and her experience will help us position ourselves for anticipated growth,” said Shift Redevelopment’s Managing Director Jim Bailey.
Shift Redevelopment is a full-service general contracting and real estate development Firm that specializes in strategically optimizing commercial and residential real estate.

Since its inception, Shift Redevelopment has earned a reputation as the construction service company of choice for commercial buildings, multifamily communities, and HOA’s.  Their specialty lies in repositioning existing assets through capital improvement projects and tenant improvements (i.e… exterior painting, stucco, asphalt, roofing, flooring, interior renovations).
Shift’s competitive advantage comes by self-performing much of the work.  By keeping their price point competitive and quality controls tight, Shift is an attractive alternative for companies considering taking on large projects in house.  We offer the amenities and accountability of one point of contact with the savings of not having to manage the project.

Most recently, Shift has expanded their services to include emergency fire and water cleanup and restoration.  Their personnel are IICRC trained and certified.


Valley Partnership seeks new president and CEO

Valley Partnership announced that Richard Hubbard stepped down from his eight-year post as president and CEO of the advocacy group. The terms of Hubbard’s resignation are effective immediately, said Cecilia Riviere, Director of Partner Services for Valley Partnership. There will be no acting president and CEO while a subcommittee of board members select Hubbard’s replacement.

“We are thankful that Richard served Valley Partnership as our president and CEO for over eight years through both good times and bad. Working alongside Richard was a pleasure. Our attention is now shifting to the future of the organization. We are beginning the search to find a replacement to not only lead Valley Partnership but also carry forward the positive and exciting momentum we have,” said Valley Partnership Chairman of the Board Doug Leventhal.

With Hubbard’s departure, Valley Partnership is now seeking an inspired leader to head the organization in its mission as the Valley of the Sun’s premier advocacy group for responsible development.

The ideal candidate will possess the ability to lead a large, diverse non-profit association, with experience in government relations/advocacy and a strong working knowledge of the Greater Phoenix real estate community. Resumes may be submitted by e-mail to holly@thepeopleperspective.com. For a job summary and position requirements, please visit the Valley Partnership website at www.valleypartnership.org. Submissions must be made on or before close of business on January 16, 2015 to be considered.

The families of Save the Family hand painted tiles that will be installed into the entry walls of the project.

Valley Partnership Community Project Revitalizes Neighborhood Space

More than 200 volunteers from the commercial real estate community and members of Valley Partnership took over the Save the Family Foundation’s Escobedo at Verde Vista Affordable Housing Development construction site on Saturday morning to lay sod, paint sidewalk games, plant trees and spruce up the exteriors of the community’s entryway.

Valley Partnership has a 26-year history of community service projects, but this year marked a few firsts for the organization. It was the first service project in Mesa and its first ground-up redevelopment project, on which it collaborated with developer City of Mesa and general contractor Tofel.

Courtesy of Valley Partnership

Courtesy of Valley Partnership

“We were so inspired by their vision for this project and they brought partners, resources, talent and time to make it a reality. It’s been a joy and a pleasure to work with Valley Partnership,” said Jacki Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Family.

Save the Family operates nearly 200 transitional and low-income housing units in the East Valley and is helping revitalize the Washington-Escobedo neighborhood that has declined due to an excess of vandalism and poverty. Escobedo at Verde Vista is a $29M public-private partnership that includes the construction of 126 new units and an education and resource building.

More than 45 corporate and 16 individuals donated a total of $100,000 to create a formal entry to the housing community. Ryan Companies, NAI Horizon, Caretaker Landscape

Volunteers laid more than 7,000 SF of sod.

Volunteers laid more than 7,000 SF of sod.

and Tree Management, Adolfson and Peterson, Cushman and Wakefield and DMB Associates were among many companies with representative volunteers at Saturday’s event — a culmination of nine months of planning.

Valley Partnership is an association full of leaders who are solution minded, who impact the community on a global level by partnering together to pay it forward. I am extremely proud to co-chair the community service project committee because it has given me the opportunity to be a part of something that is much bigger. Together, we have aligned our skills in a way that will impact the community for generations,” said Dena Jones, director of project development of Caretaker Landscape and co-chair of the Community Project Committee for Valley Partnership.

“Without such a strong member representation, we could not have pulled it off,” Valley Partnership’s President Karrin Taylor said on Saturday.

The development’s grand opening is set for Dec. 4


Networking: Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone


During our 4th of July vacation, I was hiking with my 4-year-old daughter. As I looked down, I spotted a horny toad and grabbed that little guy up so fast to show her, she didn’t even have time to react.

As I was sweeping this little horned creature into my hands, I realized it had been at least 30 years and I had forgotten — do they bite? Should I be faster?

I think I remember they split blood and that would freak out a little 4-year-old. I was clearly out of practice.

Before she could even get the words out asking what the heck this little dinosaur-looking thing was, it was already in her hands. You see, this was one of my favorite outside friends growing up and I was so eager to introduce her to the memories and fun I had exploring that it was a visceral reaction of excitement. I saw the thrill in her eyes that I remember having when I held them in my hands and it was so exciting for me to relive such simple fun.

So exciting, in fact, it reminded me of the enjoyment we can get out of meeting new people and expanding our networking through associations — stay with me on this:

I have seen a marked increase in the networking through associations recently, which is a great indicator of optimism and activity in the commercial real estate industry.

>> Valley Partnership has had back-to-back sold out breakfasts — during the summer, no less;

>> CMAA was overflowing for its lunch gathering;

>> The Arizona Builders’ Alliance mixer was packed;

>> NAIOP’s Night at the Fights was the best attended in many recent years.

It is great to see people reconnect and dedicate time to promoting their firms. Some individuals are naturals at this networking thing and gain energy from the experience, others are less than enthusiastic and consider it a chore. If you are not networking, it is well worth the time to investigate associations that are right for you. If you are networking, let’s recap some best practices in the lost art:

Do Not Forget Old Friends: As you network at these association meetings, it is very important to meet new people but equally important to connect with industry counterparts, colleagues and clients. Most of us are trying to acquire new work but not focusing enough time on the people we already know but have not spent time with in a long while. Your business and services have likely changed in the past 5 years — share what has changed and educate them so they know how they might be able to help you or work with you.

It’s Easy To Get Out Of Practice: Attending association events with 75-400+ people can be an intimidating experience. Remember the basics; you are there to represent your company, meet new people, acquire information and find reasons to follow up. Before the event, determine who will be there that you would benefit from meeting or speaking to. During the event, set a goal as simple as sitting with someone you don’t know to share who you are and what your company does. After the event, follow up — as simple as this is, it seems to be an uncommon practice. Networking without follow up is really pointless.

Don’t Appear Intimidating: I am always interested in seeing people at events who look as though they would rather be anywhere else but there, and as a result, look unapproachable. If networking is not your forte, invite a coworker or friend to break the ice, but keep an open mind and push yourself to meet new people. Practice open body language and a smile. It’s easy to appear intimidating if you are uncomfortable.

Stay Within Your Natural Environment: Associations offer a great opportunity to network through educational lunches, committees, social events, mixers, training, etc. If you are not the after work type of person, it is better to find a venue that fits your personality. If you are better with a small group, committees are a great way to break down the mass of a large association and get your name associated with activities and initiatives. Additionally, if you are part of an association for education and training, you may get discouraged about your failed networking attempts. Find the right associations where your clients, prospects and trade partners will be for your networking efforts.

Introduce Old Friends To The Next Generation Of Your Firm: My favorite part of networking and business development is the industry connections I have and the clients we have worked with through the years. My coworkers have their own, separate connections and it has a compounding effect for me to meet their connections and for them to meet mine. So at every event we make a point to cross-introduce and we have tremendous business results from it.

So jump at your next opportunity to network. If you are new at it, focus on the basics. If you are well-connected try a new, energized approach to the effort to expand your network and seize opportunities to share what truly differentiates your firm.

As for the new friend we met, he was given a name, made comfortable in a cake pan with rocks and leaves, introduced to an eager group of kids, put on display in the middle of the kids table for a 4th of July BBQ and then sent back out into the world.

If you have any questions about this article or any of the topics I have covered in previous azbigmedia.com posts, please feel free to contact me at danielle@smallgiantsonline.com




Coalition Formed to Combat Proposed EPA Regulations

A group of Arizona business leaders and politicians announced that they have created a coalition to address proposed regulations on the Navajo Generating Station.

The Arizona Coalition for Water, Energy and Jobs said in a press conference on Tuesday that regulations proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if implemented, will have an adverse effect on the Arizona economy by “significantly increasing water prices.”

The proposed regulations, which are a part of the EPA’s “regional haze program,” would require the generating station to install pollution control technology, intended to reduce haze and increase visibility over the Grand Canyon.

“This (the regulations) will not improve enjoyment of the Grand Canyon, but will increase the cost of business,” Sid Wilson, chairman of the coalition said.

Wilson, who came out of a four-year retirement from the Central Arizona Water Conservation District to chair the coalition, said during the conference that implementing the necessary emissions control technology, which are proposed to be complied with by Aug. 6, “could cost up to $1 billion.”

“At risk are 3,400 jobs each year,” said Karrin Taylor, board chair of Valley Partnership.

“If these jobs disappear, they would be very difficult to replace,” said Kelly Norton, president of the Arizona Mining Association, noting that an increase in water prices would have a “cascading effect on the economy.”

Taylor also said that the regulations would stagnate business development in Arizona.

“One of the most important considerations for developing businesses is power and water rates,” she said.  “If we double or triple the cost of water, we immediately remove an important attribute of business development.”

She said that Arizona has “always had a competitive advantage” due to its ability to offer low rates on water and power, and noted “the Navajo Generating Station is at the heart of that system.”

“We can’t put at risk such an important economic tool for a rule that will deliver no benefit,” she said.

House Speaker Andy Tobin said during the conference that the coalition is rallying both locally and in Washington for support on the issue.

“I am asking the President of the United States to protect Arizona from these regulations,” he said.

David Martin, president of the Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, said during the conference that the proposed regulations would produce results “similar to what happened at the Mohave Power Station,” which was forced to be shut down in 2005 after facing similar government intervention.

“We are not going to let special interests force us into the same corner,” he said.

Coalition members also said that the benefits of the regulations, which they cite as being based on “flawed technical analysis,” do not exceed the costs.

“The EPA has yet to thoughtfully approach the cost/benefit analysis required under law,” Martin said.  “If the costs of this rule exceed the benefits, and they clearly do, there would be no required retrofit.”

David Dellana

First Fidelity Bank names vice president

Lee R. Symcox, president and CEO of First Fidelity Bank, a full-service community bank, has announced the addition of David Dellana as vice president, commercial relationship manager in the bank’s Biltmore location in Phoenix. Dellana brings more than 20 years in lending experience to his new role and will serve both the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas.

As commercial relationship manager, Dellana will be responsible for building and maintaining current and future commercial client relationships and business development activities.

Prior to his new position, Dellana held a number of senior lending roles in the region. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Duquesne University and is an active member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, the Pinal Partnership, the Urban Land Institute and Valley Partnership, among other organizations.

David Van Slyke

Mutual of Omaha Bank Announces Phoenix Appointment

David Van Slyke has joined Mutual of Omaha Bank as vice president of commercial banking in Phoenix. Based out of the bank’s Arizona headquarters at 9200 E. Pima Center Parkway in Scottsdale, Van Slyke will work with local businesses, offering comprehensive commercial banking services, including commercial deposit accounts, treasury services and full-scale commercial and industrial financing.

Van Slyke brings over 25 years of experience to Mutual of Omaha Bank, most recently serving as vice president with the business banking group for a large, national bank in Arizona.

Van Slyke earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Arizona State University. He holds a Certificate of Mastery for Business Process Reengineering and is a licensed pilot.

Van Slyke is involved in the community as an advisory board member for Steps of Faith, a non-profit women’s health organization in Phoenix. He also has served as a panel member for the Phoenix chapter of the American Institute of Architects, on the Membership Committee for Valley Partnership and teaches classes in the community on sustainability, urban farming and organic food.

Mutual of Omaha Bank is a full-service bank providing financial solutions to individuals and businesses across the United States. With nearly $6 billion in assets, Mutual of Omaha Bank is a subsidiary of Mutual of Omaha, a Fortune 500 insurance and financial services company founded in 1909. For more information about Mutual of Omaha Bank, visit www.mutualofomahabank.com.


Save The Family Chosen As Valley Partnership's 2013 Community Project


Save the Family has been chosen by Valley Partnership for its 2013 Community Project.

This project will enhance the Escobedo at Verde Vista development in Mesa. Save the Family was surprised and overjoyed with the announcement at the April 18 Valley Partnership commission meeting.

“Save the Family came prepared to present additional information on our project and organization in order for Valley Partnership to make their final decision. Can you imagine our utter surprise when in my peripheral vision I see a bouquet of balloons and a congratulatory banner stating that we had been chosen as their charity of choice?” said Jacki Taylor, Chief Development Officer.

Jacki Taylor, CEO for Save the Family, and Jennifer Hunt, grant writer for Save the Family.

Jacki Taylor, CEO for Save the Family, and Jennifer Hunt, grant writer for Save the Family.

“We are incredibly grateful for Valley Partnership’s decision. This project will have a great impact on relieving capital costs of our new build, therefore allowing us to provide more services to homeless and at-risk families with children.”

Valley Partnership’s work on the Escobedo at Verde Vista project will include a playground, landscaping, and painting. Escobedo at Verde Vista is a new mixed-use development located in the Washington-Escobedo District in Mesa.

The purpose of this project is to provide 70 affordable housing units for low-income households in Phase I, and 62 units in Phase II, including low-income foster families struggling to keep children out of the foster care system.

The development will also include on-site residential services, features for the disabled, and new administrative and program facilities for Save the Family’s clients and the surrounding community. Phase 1 construction began December 2012 and is scheduled for completion November 2013.

The two organizations were a great match from the beginning. Both Valley Partnership and Save the Family’s mission align by helping build strong communities. Together, the two organizations will build a stronger Valley by giving children in homeless, low-income, and low-income foster families a safe place to build stronger bodies and minds.

Video courtesy Save the Family

srp installs solar energy systems

Energy Consortium’s Roadmap puts state of path to build industry

Imagine Arizona as the energy hub of the Southwest — where major regional transmission lines tie into infrastructure in the state and serve a growing regional demand for energy. Arizona would be a place where an increasing percentage of jobs are related to the energy industry, whether in manufacturing, generation, transmission, energy efficiency, service or technology innovation. Many of these jobs would be higher-wage jobs requiring a skilled labor force fed by Arizona’s schools and universities. Arizona could be a hub of energy-sector jobs, with factories making equipment for the industry and power plants shipping electricity to neighboring states via new power lines, all contributing to a better economy.

That is the essence of the Arizona Energy Consortium’s Energy Roadmap, which the group hopes with be a catalyst for the state’s energy industry in the same way Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap helped the state increase bioscience jobs by 41 percent and helped increase the number of bioscience establishments by 27 percent during its 10-year plan.

“It was important to create this document to give the energy industry a unified voice and direction,” said said Michelle De Blasi, co-chair of the AEC and a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig. “The energy industry is going to be here forever. We are always going to need energy. So the Roadmap was designed to make the industry better for everyone — consumers, developers, legislators. So it was critical that we get it right.”

This is the vision the Roadmap hopes to realize over the next decade: Arizona is the energy hub of the Southwest, with a diverse energy mix supporting reliable transmission, a strong base of manufacturing facilities, increased numbers of higher wage jobs, and world-class research institutions, resulting in increased economic development for the state and region.

Once that vision is realized, De Blasi said the state can expect to reap these benefits:
• Enhanced job creation and higher-wage jobs within Arizona
• Increased state economic revenue
• Enhanced energy export potential
• Heightened energy self-sufficiency and national and state security
• Increased transmission reliability
• Continued low cost energy

“This Roadmap is going to help Arizona be looked at differently from outside its borders,” said Chris Davey, co-chair with De Blasi of the AEC and president of EnviroMission, which is developing a solar tower in Western Arizona. “The Roadmap will create a sense of certainty, which appeals to the finance community. So when they are looking to invest, that certainty creates a more attractive environment for developers and investors.”

Davey and De Blasi said they will be rolling out the Roadmap this year, presenting it to groups throughout the state. For more information on the Roadmap, visit aztechcouncil.org.


Arizona Commerce Authority
Arizona Governor’s Office of Energy Policy
Arizona Public Service
Bridge Strategy Group
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
City of Mesa, the Office of the Mayor
Cleantech Open
DMB Associates
Energy Services Coalition
Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Greenberg Traurig
The Green Chamber – Greater Phoenix
Golder Associates
Hensel Phelps
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals
J.D. Porter & Associates
Kolbe Connect
Matthew McDonnell
Ormond Group, LLC
RG Schmelzer, Inc.
Salt River Project
Stream Energy
Tucson Electric Power
Valley Forward
Valley Partnership

Karrin Taylor

DMB's Karrin Taylor Assumes 2013 Board Chair For Valley Partnership

Valley Partnership announced the leadership team for its 2013 Board of Directors, which will be led by new Board Chair Karrin Taylor of DMB Associates.

Other 2013 board members: Vice Chair, Doug Leventhal, Evergreen Devco; Secretary, Molly Ryan-Carson, Ryan Companies US; Treasurer, Scott Nelson, Macerich; Immediate Past Chair, Rick Hearn, Vestar; General Counsel, Jay Kramer; and At-Large Member, Dick Crowley, Kitchell.

As the Executive Vice President and Chief Entitlements Officer at DMB, Taylor is responsible for ongoing land use entitlement matters for its communities.  She serves as a member of the company’s Executive Management Team responsible for the strategic direction, growth and operation of the company.

Prior to joining DMB, Taylor was a principal with the law firm of Biskind, Hunt & Taylor, P.L.C., where she practiced in the areas of land use, development and zoning law.

She holds a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Political Science from Arizona State University.  She also received her Juris Doctorate from ASU’s College of Law.  Ms. Taylor is admitted to practice in Arizona and before the U.S. District Court for Arizona.

Taylor’s professional affiliations include the State Bar of Arizona and the Maricopa County Bar Association. She’s been appointed by the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives to serve as the business community’s representative on the Transportation Policy Committee of the Maricopa Association of Governments; and she also serves as the Governor’s appointee on the Arizona State Land Department’s Conservation Advisory Committee.

Her commitment to the local community includes and has included service on the Board of Directors for Valley Partnership, the Board of Directors for Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Maricopa County Trails Foundation, the Phoenix Suns Charities Board and Great Hearts Preparatory Academies Board.  She is also an Advisory Board Member of the Arizona Aerospace Institute, dedicated to retaining and growing the aerospace industry in Arizona and a member of Charter 100 and Arizona Town Hall.


Valley Partnership's 25th Annual Community Project Transforms Lives, and SARRC's Facilities

The brisk early morning air was an encouraging start to the day of hard work ahead for volunteers gathered at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) to participate in Valley Partnership’s 25th annual community project.

About 150 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds gravitated towards the unfinished mural on the back wall of SARRC’s Colonel Sanders location on 16th and Cypress streets in Phoenix. The mural, waiting to be filled in with vibrant paint, was the product of SARRC’s students and graphic artist Lisa MacCollum.

The goal of Valley Partnership’s 25th community project wasn’t just to finish the mural. It was to completely renovate the backyard of the Colonel Sanders location. Landscaping, an addition of a large shed, a garden and a greenhouse were all part of project day.

SARRC’s main location on 18th and Van Buren streets also had its children’s garden remodeled, planter boxes installed and a mural painted.

Volunteers consisted of Valley Partnership members and member donors such as Adolfson & Peterson, Vestar, Ryan Companies US Inc., Caretaker Landscape and Markham Contracting. Students from Saint Thomas Aquinas grade school also participated, with a total of 28 student volunteers and parents.

SARRC President Jeri Kendle had a busy day as she helped direct volunteers and participated in the renovation herself. Her excitement was apparent. This project was the culmination of about six months of collaborative volunteer work between Valley Partnership and SARRC.

“I’m excited about everything,” Kendle said. “It’s so incredible to see Valley Partnership support us in such a big way.”

With these changes, SARRC officials hope to further the goal of assisting adult clients in finding employment and expanding their Autism Artisan classes.

“It’s about building a better future for adults with autism,” Kendle explained.

Rick Hearn, Vestar’s director of leasing and this year’s Valley Partnership’s chairman, was not afraid to get his hands dirty as he hauled wheelbarrow loads of gravel.

“It’s not rocket science. It’s hard work. It’s 120 people working hard, side by side. That’s amazing and it’s all done by volunteers,” Hearn said proudly.

Hearn was hauling mulch when he stopped to look at the project’s progress. In just a few hours, the backyard was starting to come together.

“What it boils down to is paying it forward. We’ve made a contribution and we’re making someone’s life better. That’s the reward,” Hearn said.

The project’s retail cost would be about half a million dollars, Hearn said, explaining “we get it done for a lot less and with volunteer effort.”

“Valley Partnership is a great organization to be a part of for our company. We’re all members of this organization because we believe in their balanced advocacy effort,” Hearn said.

Richard Hubbard, president and CEO of Valley Partnership, worked alongside everyone as well.

“We’ve supported SARRC in smaller ways but this is where we’ve really stepped up,” Hubbard said while observing the backyard’s transformation.

Over the next 60 days, the finishing touches will be added and a monument dedicated to the late Lee Hanley, founder of Vestar and former chair of Valley Partnership, Hubbard said.

The materials and labor for the project were all donated, Hubbard said, adding that “many of these companies are here every year (on project day) and contribute material and money every year.”

Mike Markham Jr., vice president and COO at Markham Contracting, has been working with Valley Partnership for 10 years and was the project committee chairman this year. As far as the design process, Markham did not take the reins in that area, but he was excited about the actual working process.

“I’m a contractor. I like building things,” Markham said laughing.

McCollum guided volunteers on the mural project, which was about 100 feet long and only colored in partially at the start of the morning.

“It’s an interesting process. I see a lot of blank wall when I look at it but then I see the vibrant colors and the progression and I smile. The process is what I like,” McCollum said.

“The beauty is great, but turning employment into reality and seeing everyone out here working towards that cause is the real treasure,” Kendle said.



Valley Partnership's 25th Community Project: SARRC helping young, autistic baker realize his dreams

The sounds of drilling, shoveling and excited chatter will permeate the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) on Nov. 3 during its renovations, courtesy of Valley Partnership’s 25th community project.

SARRC’s location at Cypress and 16th streets will be receiving renovations which will directly benefit its Vocational and Life Skills Academy by renovating the Garden Works area. The Garden Works program helps grow produce for the Culinary Works program.  It also helps teach adults with autism spectrum disorders gardening skills, says Cece Russell, SARRC’s Social Enterprise Manager.

Both the Culinary Works program and Garden Works program are part of the Vocational and Life Skills Academy. Culinary Works is an 8-week program that trains adults with autism in the culinary field, Russell says.

It was through SARRC that Matt Cottle, 23, discovered his love of baking. Cottle participated in the Culinary Works program and SARRC later connected him with Heather Netzloff, who taught Cottle how to bake through one-on-one lessons.

“I liked the feeling of baking and I knew I had a talent for it,” Cottle says, adding, “Why not do it for a living?”

Each morning Cottle bakes pastries for his business, Stuttering King Bakery. Cottle is a young business owner with big dreams, much as any other business owner. Cottle’s journey into adulthood has been different, though, because Cottle is autistic

Cottle was born, raised and lived in Colorado until his junior of high school when he moved to Phoenix with his family. A job opportunity for his father brought the Cottles to Arizona.  The transition from Colorado to Phoenix was tough, Cottle says, but eventually he made friends and adjusted.

High school graduation brought more questions and concerns for the Cottle family.

“I had zero idea what I wanted to do until I started thinking things through,” Cottle says.

Cottle had been looking for ways to gain experience in the work force, but with little success.

“For two and half years people had been slamming doors in my face,” Cottle recalls.

With SARRC’s help and his family’s support, Cottle was able to pursue his dream of starting his own baking business. Stuttering King Bakery provides Beneficial Beans Café, a social enterprise by SARRC, with all of its pastries. Stuttering King Bakery also takes private orders online or via telephone.

The best-selling item on Cottle’s menu is his banana chocolate chip muffins. He says he also loves them because he used to bake them with his mom when he was younger. Cookies, biscotti, cakes, and muffins are all on Stuttering King Bakery’s menu.

Cottle currently bakes everything from home since he has a Maricopa County Home Bake license, but that may change soon with the help of Seed Spot, a nonprofit organization that supports select Arizona entrepreneurs.

Cottle recently participated in the first Seed Spot event. Seed Spot is helping Cottle build a website and kitchen within its building in Downtown Phoenix, he says.

Stuttering King Bakery was named after English King George VI. Cottle loved the inspirational message of hope from the film, “The King’s Speech.”

Cottle says he hopes to one day have his own building for his bakery. He has his eye on one, currently, and envisions it with a few tables, 10 bakers, and interns interested in the culinary arts. He wants to hire adults with autism in his bakery, too.

“Matt is definitely an example of the positive impact SARRC has on adults with autism spectrum disorders and their family,” Russell says proudly.

Cottle has big dreams and even bigger plans.

“Hopefully I’ll expand my bakery all over Arizona and nationwide one day. And maybe, just maybe, become the first autistic politician.”


Valley Partnership - 25Years

Valley Partnership: President's Message

25 Years of Commitment

Beginning at the end of 2011, I was charged with the responsibility of reviewing the 25-year history of Valley Partnership in anticipation of the yearlong celebration of our Silver Anniversary.

The only records kept by a small organization with a historically small staff were the binders of corporate minutes (required by law) and some photographs — not pictures on websites, CDs, JPEGs or TIFFs — of events and Community Projects. I dreaded the thought of combing through tedious legalese and staged pictures of people holding shovels pretending to do heavy lifting at some children’s facility one day a year.

I was wrong.

Reading the corporate minutes from 1987 through 2011, each year came alive with the personalities of the Chairs of the Board of Valley Partnership. They were business people who led the organization and the commercial real estate industry in some of the direst times and in some of the most successful. I read of the dedication of the Partners who served on Valley Partnership committees with missions ranging from Government Advocacy to Business Development to our Community Projects.

Although 25 years have passed and the Valley has grown beyond the boundaries that existed in 1987, one thing has been consistent: Valley Partnership is a partnership among strong individuals who are dedicated to the four corners of the Valley Partnership Mission:

  • Advocacy
  • Education
  • Networking
  • Community Service

I hope you enjoy this look back over the past 25 years, particularly the comments of the past Chairs of the Board of Directors, a collection of prestigious commercial real estate professionals who committed a significant amount of their career and time to Valley Partnership.

I invite you to join Valley Partnership for the next 25 years and become a part of the Valley of the Sun’s Premier Advocacy Group for Responsible Development.

Richard R. Hubbard
President & CEO
Valley Partnership

For more information about Valley Partnership, visit the Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnership.org

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

backyard makeover - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership's Extreme Backyard Makeover

Valley Partnership’s annual community project transforms a Maggie’s Place facility with a backyard makeover.

If there is one thing that every house should have it’s a dream backyard.

Even on a rainy November morning, Valley Partnership volunteers came together for their annual community project to bring the potential for an ideal backyard to fruition.

The mission was to refurbish the yard of one of the community facilities for Maggie’s Place, a home for expectant mothers who wish to achieve their goals in a dignified atmosphere.

The only significant feature of the backyard at Magdalene House’s in Phoenix, one of Maggie’s Places, was an old gazebo that was removed as part of the project’s construction. Additionally, there wasn’t much functionality with the lack of grass and a play structure.

The 2011 project brought in more than 150 volunteers — more than last year’s event — with the chance for each helper to contribute. The volunteers could participate in any of the activities:

  • Scraping the ground to level it out for the incoming playground;
  • Filling the removed gazebo space with personalized bricks used from donations;
  • Building a small play area, including equipment for mothers to have meetings while also watching their children;
  • Planting, painting and ornamenting the yard to add decoration.

The new backyard, completed in a day’s work, was a combination of the volunteers’ vision and the residents’ excitement.

Selecting a project each year is a collaborative effort usually by a core group of volunteers on the Valley Partnership project committee.

Project chairperson, Terri Martin-Denning of NAI Horizon, says the group decided on Maggie’s Place because “it fit Valley Partnership’s mission; their needs aligned with our (Valley Partnership) goals.”

Once the project is chosen, a development team is assembled to plan the construction process. The committee members then look for those with skilled labor to complete the heavy building; removing the worn gazebo was one of those arduous tasks. Finally, the volunteers are recruited and the renovations can commence.

Those behind Maggie’s Place founded the first house on Mother’s Day of 2000 — a suitable day to express gratitude for current and future moms. Magdalene’s House in Phoenix began with five pregnant women in need of a home. It has since expanded to five houses located in Tempe, Glendale and Cleveland, Ohio.

The mission of Maggie’s Place is to:

  • Provide hospitality for pregnant women alone or on the streets;
  • Connect expectant and new mothers to resources involving prenatal care, health insurance and education;
  • Inform and encourage the use of savings programs to prepare mothers for life after Maggie’s Place.

Valley Partnership is the only grass-root organization in Arizona dedicated to promote responsible development. Its commitment was particularly revealed in the restoration of Maggie’s Place and the enthusiasm of both the volunteers and the recipients.

Director of facilities at Maggie’s Place, Dave Kriegl, says they are always looking for outreach from volunteers and organizations. He also says that despite the rain that November day, there was “quite a transformation and a remarkable change” after the volunteers finished the job.

Both Martin-Denning and Kriegl say they believe the expectations of the committee and the women residing in Maggie’s Place were fully met.

Through the laborious work of the volunteers, the residents of the Magdalene House are able to relish in a renewed and kid-friendly backyard, host events and enjoy all the benefits that Maggie’s Place has to offer.

For more information about the backyard makeover at Maggie’s Place, visit the Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnershipcommunityproject.org

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership

Valley Partnership: Partners 2012

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

Markham Contracting

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

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

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

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

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

Sunbelt Holdings

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

City of Phoenix

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Companies US, Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

25 years of exemplary leadership, AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership: 25 Years of Exemplary Leadership

Behind every great organization are great leaders. And Valley Partnership is no exception. With the Valley-based development group celebrating its 25th anniversary, AZRE magazine posed the following question to its past chairmen:

What was Valley Partnership’s most significant or greatest accomplishment while you were chairman?

Ron Haarer, Sr. - Westwind Aviation
Ron Haarer, Sr., Westwind Aviation
“Valley Partnership’s first Board of Directors was comprised of members of the development community, city officials and community activists. Watching these diverse groups working together was the ultimate reward for months of soul-searching and persistence and 25 years of continual existence.”

John Graham - Sunbelt Holdings
John Graham, Sunbelt Holdings
“I’m proud that a new organization was able to survive a difficult real estate downturn and was a positive participant in working through the RTC era. A large number of people have contributed to (V.P.’s 25-year) success.”

David Scholl - Westcor/Vintage Partners
David Scholl, Westcor/Vintage Partners
“Valley Partnership’s participation in a yearlong discussion with the Regional Transportation Commission, and making efforts in communication and partnership was a success.”

Charlie Byxbee - Byxbee Development Partners
Charlie Byxbee, Byxbee Development Partners
“Sustaining the organization through such a harsh real estate environment. In addition, we were actively involved with the policies of the Resolution Trust Corporation, and Valley Partnership was able to provide input to the RTC, including offering testimony during oversight hearings that were held in Phoenix.”

John Ogden - Suncor Development
John Ogden, Suncor Development
“Staying alive — I served for two years and it was clearly, ‘staying alive.’ We were just coming out of the RTC era and everybody was broke or being sued.”

Meyer Turken - Turken Industrial Properties
Meyer Turken, Turken Industrial Properties
“We hired qualified executive directors and became more politically and legislatively active. Our industry can be proud of the way we led the charge and have made Phoenix and Maricopa County the great metropolis it is today.”

Lee Hanley, Vestar
“Our objectives for 1995 were influencing government positions on real estate, expanding our membership, and providing networking opportunities. V.P. created a new category of membership for government agencies. Perhaps our greatest achievement was to retire a promissory note created in 1987 to finance Valley Partnership operations in the early years. We became self supporting.”

Lee Hanley - Vestar

Tim Terrill, Sella Barr/Walton
“Substantially expanding our public sector membership and broadening out private sector reach. Advocating responsible development and input on real estate and growth policies at the state and local level.”

Tim Terrill - Sella Barr/Walton

Clesson Hill, Grayhawk Development
“Focusing on the growth of the community project and making it into an integral part of Valley Partnership’s membership and the efforts of our active committees.”

Clesson Hill - Grayhawk Development

Jim Pederson, The Pederson Group
“During my tenure, I was most proud of our progress in promoting quality development in Arizona. Such initiatives as ‘Growing Smarter’ provided a set of guiding principles to help Arizona not just grow, but reach for the next level in developing quality growth.”

Jim Pederson - The Pederson Group

Gregg Alpert, Evergreen Development
Valley Partnership and the commercial real estate community lost a leader and a friend on Sept. 25, 2010, when Gregg Alpert unexpectedly passed away. He was 45.

Gregg Alpert - Evergreen Development

Ken Roth, Roth Development
“Valley Partnership’s greatest and most challenging accomplishment was trying to make sense of the events of Sept. 11 and assessing the relationship between the attacks and the real estate business.”

Ken Roth - Roth Development

Heidi Kimball, Sunbelt Holdings
“Valley Partnership assumed a leadership position in formulating the Outreach Task Force that was challenged with creating a coalition to work proactively on issues confronting business and the real estate development industry, thereby leveraging the industry’s influence at the local and state levels.”

Heidi Kimball - Sunbelt Holdings

Pat McGinley, Vestar
“Created the framework for the Annual Sponsorship Program that was instituted for the following calendar year. Also, organized the first Flat Tire Tour and increased financial reserves for Valley Partnership to more than $200,000.”

Pat McGinley - Vestar
Pete Bolton - CBRE/Grubb & Ellis
Pete Bolton, CBRE/Grubb & Ellis
“We needed someone well connected with the Legislature and Governor’s Office and were fortunate to get Maria Baier (as President and CEO). She was considered one of the true experts on the subject (of development). We also put together the Cross Association Collaboration, which included Valley Partnership, NAIOP, ICSC, BOMA and almost every development association.”

Jay Tubbs - Ryan/Monte Vista Counsulting
Jay Tubbs, Ryan/Monte Vista Consulting
“The biggest accomplishments during my tenure were the growth in our membership, Valley Partnership’s leadership role in the effort to achieve reform at the State Land Department and the continued focus and growth of the annual community project, which I consider one of the most important works of Valley Partnership each year.”

Charley Freericks - DMB Associates
Charley Freericks, DMB Associates
“Working closely with State Land Commissioner Mark Winkleman to draft Proposition 106 and staff the lobbying effort. V.P. formed task forces under the county committees, providing prompt review of the proposition.”

Keith Ernest - RED Development
Keith Ernest, RED Development
“Collaborating with our membership to assist suburban municipalities in their efforts to streamline the development processes. V.P. preserved the practice of allocating sales tax revenues toward infrastructure reimbursement.”

Steve Betts - Suncor Development
Steve Betts, Suncor Development
“Bringing together a coalition of business groups, cities and legislative leaders to pass innovative authority for local economic incentive development agreements with the appropriate protections of public interests.”

Sean Walters - Sunbelt Holdings
Sean Walters, Sunbelt Holdings
“The board worked quickly and diligently with CEO Richard Hubbard to cut costs and increase benefits to our partners. We increased our focus on networking and helping unemployed members find jobs with new enterprises. Valley Partnership additionally made adjustments to create a balanced budget for 2010.”

Mark Winkleman - ML Manager
Mark Winkleman, ML Manager
“Valley Partnership’s greatest accomplishment was holding together the primary voice for the real estate community during the toughest economy any of us have ever endured.”

Mindy Korth - CBRE
Mindy Korth, CBRE
“Valley Partnership members re-energized the commitment and focus of the organization and then getting the word out about our accomplishments through a thoughtful and branded communication plan.”

For more information on Valley Partnership, visit Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnership.org.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership - Rick Hearn - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership: Chairman Q & A – Rick Hearn

Rick Hearn joined the Valley Partnership Board of Directors in 2005 and has been an integral part of its leadership team, culminating with the chairmanship in this, the 25th anniversary of the organization. A 25-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry, Hearn joined Vestar in 1994 as its director of leasing, overseeing much of the leasing, marketing and broker management of Vestar’s retail portfolio in the Southwest, complementing his duties and capacities as its designated broker. Over the years, Vestar and Valley Partnership have enjoyed a rich heritage. Three of Valley Partnership’s chairmen — Lee Hanley (chairman/CEO), who participated in the original framework and served in 1995; and Pat McGinley (VP of property management), who guided the board in the 2003; and now Rick Hearn — are affiliated with Vestar.


A: One word, “important.” As a Metro Phoenix-based organization advocating for the industry, our focus is precise yet flexible, and extends throughout the entire “Valley of the Sun.” The importance and responsibility of being the only real estate-based organization, not a chapter or division of a regional or national entity, but native to the Valley … “invaluable.” We are sought after and respected for our responsible positions on industry-related issues whether local, regional, statewide or federal.


A: Advocacy is important all of the time. Each economic cycle creates differing challenges for our industry, and, bad policy decisions, regardless of timing, impact subsequent cycles. A balanced advocacy approach minimizes potential negative outcomes, while fostering prosperity for all stakeholders, both public and private.


A: Continued application of our founding principles — advocacy, networking, education and community projects. This past October, bolstered by our board retreat, one facilitated by Todd Hornback, a respected non-profit professional; we developed four centric goals for our 2012 focus — board development and leadership, organizational communication, development and enhancement of strategic alliances and organizational fiscal policies.


A: Each element of the organization has specific objectives or goals developed at the retreat. Measurable action items are continually evaluated, whether at the organizational, board, staff or committee level. The organization’s biggest direction and efforts come from the 10 standing committees, comprised of volunteer executives (partners) that execute on those goals and objectives. Our partners are our biggest assets. For the organization to continually evolve, and pursue its mission objectives, we must develop future leadership from these committees, thus fostering partner involvement.


A: Preparing for the eventual turnaround of our industry and that of the “Valley of the Sun” we all call home, while working with our partners through this still very challenging economic cycle. Valley Partnership’s mission remains constant, continual support for all of our partners and to help their organizations prosper.


A: The road ahead includes a reflection of our past, a continual focus on the present mission, and a strategic look at how our industry will manage the next two decades of Valley growth, which could include more than two million new Phoenicians.

This reflection has allowed us to touch our past 21 chairs so as to re-engage and respect our heritage, including the “founding” chairman, Ron Haarer Sr. (1987). And, we said a final farewell to a trusted leader and past chair in Gregg Alpert. We’ve catalogued our past accomplishments (municipal and legislative successes) or the more than 25 community projects completed, with more than $3.5M in charitable dollars raised and countless man-hours volunteered.

As to our near-term future, continued organizational governance, growth of new partners and/or new partner firms, adding emerging business sectors to our already diverse business base and strengthening our alliances. And, through our actions always declaring “Valley Partnership is the Valley of the Sun’s premier advocacy group for responsible development.”

For more information on Valley Partnership and Rick Hearn, visit Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnership.org.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

valley partnership - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership Former Chairmen Discuss Phoenix Development – Part 1

Valley Partnership is celebrating 25 years as Metro Phoenix’s premier advocacy group for responsible development. In looking back – and also looking ahead – AZRE magazine brought together six former chairmen to discuss goals the group has successfully achieved and challenges that lie ahead.

With the commercial real estate industry making a slow recovery from the Great Recession, the advocacy role undertaken by a group such as Valley Partnership is magnified. “The surge in commercial real estate is evident,” says Richard Hubbard, president and CEO of Valley Partnership. “The comments from our past chairs provide great direction to Valley Partnership for the next several years. “With the increasing activity, it is imperative we re-energize our advocacy efforts with particular focus on the local communities while always monitoring our state and federal governments for any issue that affects our industry.” Participating were John Graham (JG), Sunbelt Holdings, chairman in 1989; Dave Scholl (DS), Westcor-Vintage Partners, chairman in 1990; Clesson Hill (CH), Grayhawk Development, chairman in 1997 and 1998; Jim Pederson (JP),  The Pederson Group, chairman in 1999; Pete Bolton (PB), CBRE/Grubb & Ellis (Newmark Grubb Knight Frank), chairman in 2004; and Charley Freericks (CF), DMB Associates, chairman in 2006. Rick Hearn (RH) of Vestar, the current chairman, served as moderator.

RH: During the past 25 years, has the level of economic development undertaken by local governments and the state been inadequate, adequate or exceptional?

PB: Frankly it’s all three. Over the years, it’s been inadequate, and it’s gone to adequate, and then I think in some cases it’s been exceptional. It also depends on which state we compare ourselves with because some states are exceptional and then some states are just barely adequate. And then you can go in the opposite direction, say inadequate, compared to Texas, and some of the other big ones across the country. Overall, we are doing a better job today.

CH: I would agree. I think there is lack of funding these days and I think that education has suffered greatly and that is a major infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. Not just here but everywhere, and as we move forward and embrace new technology, it is a new way of life as we look toward the future.

DS: When I looked at this question, I really focused on the side of economic development and “are cities making investments?” I think that a lot of ways the cities have been trying to operate with their arm tied behind their backs. The constitution and our legislators have never really given our local government a whole lot of choices in their tool boxes. With the limited tools they have in there, they have done a pretty good job. I think that the industry I have been in has had a lot of city participation in economic development, and I think that they have been pretty aggressive about getting the most out of what limited tools the state’s constitutional statues have given.

RH: Charley, your company was impacted by this exact thing at Eastmark (in Mesa) in regard to Apple. What are your thoughts?

CF: Well it was not just Apple. It happened to us positively with First Solar. We were able to compete and win there. And with Apple, to be in the mix, I’m where Pete was. It is an evolution where economic development has come a long way since 1987. I had to think about 25 years, and I didn’t know I had been in the business that long. I look at what has happened now as the communication level of real prospects is very high and people know they’re coming and looking, which in the old days you would hear about it and it was here and gone. I’ve been in that side of the business almost my entire career chasing prospects from out of state. We come in second place to states that want to write checks. When we lose, we lose because somebody wrote a check and throws money at it to the prospect. I’ve never been a huge advocate at writing big checks. It’s a complicated business. I think we are doing a lot better chasing these deals and being in the running and again the tool kit is very limited.

JG: I’m actually optimistic about many things and this is actually one of them. My view is that being a young state one of the things that we did probably an amateurish job in early on was in economic development. I think that was a maturity problem not a “we didn’t quite get it problem.” With what we have now with GPEC and ACA and trying to address some of our structural and political and legislative problems, we got a really good pipeline of stuff that is being looked at and is being professionally handled.

JP: Certainly economic development depends on how you define it. A lot of people think that dangling a check in front of a major company is going to bring jobs into the state. But as Clesson mentioned, it’s more than that. It is infrastructure investment; it’s education and venture capital.

RH: Has Valley Partnership had a positive effect of creating a better image for developers?

Pete Bolton - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Pete Bolton

JP: There is a word that has been overused but I think that it is applicable. In this case, that is sustainability — the sustainability of our communities. It directly relates to our industry because we plunk down projects, neighborhoods or communities, and we depend upon a standard of living that is directly dependent on the rents that we get for our properties. During recession times, construction prices go down, land prices go down, but you have to achieve the rents if you are going to be successful at the end of the day. What Valley Partnership has done, by emphasizing how development relates to a sustainable lifestyle in the various communities where we live, is to look more beyond the block of where you are developing. It’s looking at your community, looking at your neighborhood. Looking at the various infrastructure investments that are critical to the kinds of things we do. We manufacture a product. And to manufacture the product, you need certain things, at least in the shopping center business. You need good tools. You need quality neighborhoods. You need good infrastructure investments. All of those things that directly relate to the level of rents we are going to get. In that regard I think Valley Partnership over the past 20 years has been excellent. I think it’s an organization that has emphasized the sustainability concept.

JG: I think the short answer is yes, that is has improved the reputation of how people view the development industry. The other part of that is the role that Valley Partnership will never go away because inherently we are in a conflict relationship with neighborhoods and other people. No matter how good of a job we did, it’s always going to be viewed that way. I think we have changed the conversation from one that was always in essence an adversarial, to at least everyone understanding that it is a two- or three-legged stool at a minimum, and that things have to be done by more than consensus. It has to be more by partnership and good conversation. That is why Valley Partnership will always have a role to the extent of how we want to have it because no matter how good a job we do, we will have different rubs with different constituency groups. But I think the role we need to continue to take is being the group that is not adversarial, rather constructive in those conversations for solutions.

CF: I was more optimistic on this one. My immediate reaction was absolutely that my focus was on the government. As an industry dealing with all of the city, town and county issues for regulations of our industries locally, I think Valley Partnership’s reputation really had a big impact because we have rational and moderate voices coming through consistently saying, “Gee, your regulation here is either irresponsible or maybe needs a little tune-up or maybe you missed a big idea here.” So from the professionals within our industry that we deal with, staff level government in particular, I think our reputation over the past 20 years has improved radically. I’m with the other guys here. The challenge we face will always be in conflict with residents and neighborhoods, and we need to keep doing our jobs well to keep doing that and not be controversial.

DS: I agree. I think that whenever you look at an image, you have to talk about which audience you are talking about. I think among consumers or neighborhood groups and homeowners, I don’t know if they have enough regular engagement to really understand who Valley Partnership is. I don’t know if the developers’ image among the average fellow on the street has improved that much. I agree with Charley. I think we are front of mind when a city or a local government says, “We need input, or we are thinking about changing this part of our code.” I think we are one of the first people they think of to come to the table and have the dialogue; whereas before Valley Partnership, it was a very splintered industry, and I don’t think there was a common voice and more importantly a common set of ears that listened to cities when they needed have that dialogue, too. So I think it has been vastly improved.

PB: What Valley Partnership has really accomplished with the local municipalities is to provide them with a dependable, educated voice. I remember sitting on a board and something would come up and a local municipality would ask, “Can you guys put something together on this billboard issue?”, and we would have six very educated voices at the table later that afternoon. That just doesn’t happen in any other organization. From my side of the business (brokerage), that has been extremely positive. As soon as we get the local municipalities on board, which they are, the neighborhoods rarely follow, but they don’t have much depth of voice anymore because if the politicos are truly believing the intelligent voices of the marketplace, they have a tendency to be more objective.

CH: I think part of the sustainability of 25 years of leadership is that Valley Partnership has been able to maintain frontline guys and women who are involved in development and kept them passionate about Valley Partnership. It has never faded away or lost its image in the cities to know that if we come, we will get quality people stepping up and get engaged and deliver some kind of end product. I think it’s a tribute to the leadership inside Valley Partnership to maintain that constant level of quality people.

Continue reading this article.

For more information on Valley Partnership, visit Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnership.org.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

valley partnership - AZRE magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership Past Chairmen Discuss Phoenix Development – Part 2

Valley Partnership is celebrating 25 years as Metro Phoenix’s premier advocacy group for responsible development. In looking back – and also looking ahead – AZRE magazine brought together six former chairmen to discuss goals the group has successfully achieved and challenges that lie ahead. This is part 2 of this discussion.

Go to page one of this article.

RH: We asked this question more than 20 years ago: Do you feel the local and state government officials have a good understanding of the current real estate and banking problems in Arizona? Can that same question be asked today?

JP: I think they understand it because it is affecting their revenue significantly. Development to cities is a mixed blessing. They appreciate all of the sales taxes and the fees paid by the developers, but they have to contend with all of the complaints. Charley made an interesting point dealing with cities. Sometimes what I call the newer cities, the ones on the outskirts, don’t have the staff , the continuity or the maturity that some of the older cities have, so it’s sometimes more difficult to deal with the smaller cities. But most governments are strapped right now. That’s due to the economy and a city that is accustomed to the fees and the taxes that are derived from development. I don’t think we are ever going to have the kind of economy we did between 1994 and 2006-2007. We all have to make adjustments. Our industry has to make adjustments in terms of what we do and how we do it. We have a product to produce. Cities are going to have to make adjustments. Should cities be totally sales tax dependent? Shopping centers produce a lot of sales tax, and they welcome us with open arms. Car dealerships produce a lot of sales taxes. Shouldn’t we have a more level playing field in regards to tax generation? Just because Scottsdale has more commercial than an adjoining city, does that mean that they are going to have more revenue to support their services? I think that it is a global approach, and our cities are going to come together and address some of those concerns.

JG: I don’t think there is any question that they understand the depth of our problems. It’s all the way from their fiscal problems to the operational issues of not seeing zoning cases and their staff being cut down to skeleton-type levels. I think it is obvious that they understand that part of it. I think that when something bad or negative happens, something good comes out of it. One of the things that we are all going to benefit from in the future is that the cities are more reticent to restaff and go back to business as usual. I think from the standpoint of processing procedures, processing costs, processing time frames, and some of our worst enemies over the last decades, some of those will see some level or relief. We are also seeing some of the cities are courting us to do something in their communities. Not that they have much to give us, other than a friendly hand and encouragement to do something. But it is nice to see that they are reacting to figure out how to jump-start their own economies and their own development of their communities.

CF: I gave this question a lot of thought. We are in these long-lived projects; 20-plus years projects so you are guaranteed to have cycles. It was early in my career somebody gave me the analogy of real estate cycles. When you’re on the downhill slide, no one ever believes that there will ever be an uphill again. So the reaction is that when I talk to most of my peers, like you guys, we are starting to observe that our days are spent on positive activities or improving activities, whereas a year ago we were slugging through tenant failures, defaults and bank loans and all of that stuff . The cities are still in that downhill-looking position, so their reaction time is slower, which is frustrating. At the other end of it nobody ever thinks there is going to be a downhill again. So I love the industry. We have a balancing act; you want to take advantage of those mood swings when they work for you. But when you step back as a responsible player in this industry, you’d like to see a little more perspective and a little less reaction on the staff level. We have been fortunate. We have been in very difficult cities to deal with, which is a blessing because their staff level thinking is very good. Mesa has been through an amazing evolution with its entire team — from mayor down through the ranks. Scottsdale is a very challenging city, but it is very sophisticated and a lot of time they have a really good point. I like being held to that higher standard, even on the days I’m complaining about it. It’s nice to have lots of examples to refer different towns and cities to, and it’s nice to have Valley Partnership as a sounding board for some of those revolving towns, too.

DS: I think when the savings and loans crisis hit, maybe because it was my first downhill cycle, it seemed that more people were sort of “deer-in-the-headlights-look” than when this crisis hit. A lot of people said, “I know what mode to go into,” and even the cities knew that it was going to be a tough 4-5 years to get through. At least for me the memories of the late ‘80s early ‘90s, those that are veterans knew what you had to do and what was required at that point in the cycle.

CH: I’m going to go on a little twist. I thought Pete was going to go there first, but I’m going to the first one to throw a question back. The question is good. We talked about local and state, but what about the Feds? Is it different now than 20 years ago with the Fed? I know that for the homebuilders and mortgage regulation, it has been a lot harder on them.

PB: John made a comment about the municipalities understanding current real estate. That hit pretty solid. I don’t think what anybody understood is the way the banking system has changed and how many assets that were initially were held under the CMBS, and it is daunting to look at the RTC days and look at the special servicers of today. The banks play a role in the recovery in the downturn, and the bank’s FDIC, but the real power is coming out of Wall Street. You know what, the fascinating part of this is that they are just rebranding and heading back into something else. I mean it really is amazing to watch that place operate. And 90% of the population does not even know what is even going on in those four city blocks.

RH: What are the greatest challenges that lie ahead for Valley Partnership?

PB: Wall Street financing and the influence they have on our businesses. I think it would be a great seminar sometime. Bring in people who know how to chat about it. It’s something that now. As far as greatest challenges, I think nimbyism is right up there. We got to go vertical. The density is an issue. The economics of density is an issue. What Scottsdale has been doing lately is almost unbelievable with the 6-, 7- and 8-story apartment buildings. I thought I’d never see this. I think the downturn has some fascinating outcomes much to so many people’s dismay. But from the standpoint of Valley Partnership, how do we start switching that mentality? I don’t know if all of you agree with this, but I think that horizontal development has got to take a leap vertically, forward. And we need the politicos to support us with that.

Rick Hearn - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Rick Hearn

CH: I agree with that sentiment. What you’ll find is that you’ll get a number approved and then they’ll shut the door. I think it is erratic. I don’t think that they will be consistent necessarily when they determine density. I’ve already seen just in Scottsdale, with apartments, it’s a four-letter world. Even though they have enough planned, everybody is getting afraid of what’s planned, even though they won’t all show up. I think that when you have erratic behavior in a city, it’s impossible which direction. It is an opportunity to keep them educated and keep in front of them as it relates to what are the benefits.

DS: Most of the built environment that you see every day in this town has happened in the past 60 to 65 years. One of the biggest challenges that Valley Partnership has is that its membership must go forward, make a change and start addressing vertical construction. Our industry will have to start becoming better at harvesting tougher deals. I think that the days of “blow and go” at the surface is coming to a stop. In 1985, we all decided to pass a bill that we invest billions and billions into a freeway system and I don’t see a next super giant equivalent economic development dump of money like that was. I do think one of the biggest challenges for our membership, and therefore for us, is this change that is going to have to take place and really look into more sophisticated ways to do a better job.

CF: John and I were talking at a ULI gathering, saying we have a foot in each camp because we are both in very urban projects in Downtown Tempe. Pete’s right that vertical development is here to stay and it is the wave of the future. It’s complicated because the infrastructure in the cities was not sized to take on big vertical projects, so it really drives a complicated bargain for the cities and the municipalities. It has been really fun the past 5 to 6 years watching Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa. When they get into that infill, they have to throw their zoning codes out and go to form-based management or some type of regulatory procedure. It is really fascinating to watch because some of these old style, stodgy cities have brought in these new-style thinkers and they’re throwing the books out and starting over. It’s really what it requires. They are going to have address the infrastructure because most of it is not sized right to go that dense.

JG: I have a general answer that I give to any organization to start with. I think that anybody that doesn’t continually evaluate purpose, value and leadership will go the way of a dinosaur at some point. The thing that Valley Partnership has actually done a good job over the past 25 years is constantly asking those questions and generating legacy-type leadership. First and foremost my hope is that we continue to adapt – as an organization. I do think, and Charley is right, that we have talked about it a lot. One of the interesting things that we can and should weigh in on is this more densification of the city and change the urban form. I think it is going to happen and if it is not done thoughtfully, the result is going to be much less fulfilling and rewarding.

JP: Maybe we are using the wrong words. I have heard vertical. What about the context of urban? Urban applies to a lot more things than verticality. It applies to design. It applies to use. It’s a small example, but look what has happened on 7th Avenue and McDowell. By converting the property, it’s jobs. It’s a planners dream. Jobs, housing, entertainment, and shopping in one spot. I don’t think that if you have a well-conceived project like that, then maybe they (cities) will have to redo their codes and maybe they might have to redo their outlook. But they get it. It’s what they were taught in school and if you can generate that excitement not only on the city level but on the community level, I think most people would get it instead of being absolutely terrified.

RH: What are the greatest opportunities that lie ahead for Valley Partnership?

JP: We are going to have to understand that our industry is going to change, I think, drastically. I don’t think we are going to Buckeye or Queen Creek anytime soon. We are necessarily talking about infill development; we are talking about the more urban concepts. That is going to involve a transformation of thinking and that is going to involve everyone in our industry. I’m excited about it. I can see opportunities within 4 or 5 miles from where we are sitting now. Same thing in Downtown Tempe. Same thing in Downtown Glendale. The same thing in any area that has a great mass of density. Hopefully an income level that would sustain a good quality development that needs the services that I provide; the need for services that all of us provide. That is the exciting challenge. It was pretty easy back in the day. You go out and buy 20 acres and put down a grocery store, some shops, and a couple of paths and you go on your way. But 6 months later you have Walmart pouring footings across the street. Our experience with infill, once is happens, it is tougher to do. You’re dealing with land assembly. You’re dealing with environmental remediation. You’re dealing with high-priced land. If you can get it done, your competition is limited.

JG: The issue is – and I have seen this a lot recently – is who is waiting for the momentum play versus things just getting better regardless of what you do? Prosperity versus the creativity play. I do think that this urbanism issue is one that will give us more lengths to recovery; a better place to live. It isn’t the only thing that Valley Partnership should focus on, but I think it is uniquely qualified to do a lot in that discussion just because of the cross section and the diversity it has in its membership.

CF: There is another dimension of redevelopment that we haven’t really touched on. Our first big project as a company was Centerpoint in Downtown Tempe. When I was going to ASU there was a lot of old, rundown stuff there. It is immensely rewarding to just go see a re-creation of things that have deteriorated and were once rundown. My personal experience, I was on the front of what was the old Caterpillar Tractor Desert Proving Grounds, and now we are doing Eastmark. We are taking these vast pieces of really underused infilled properties.

CH: There may be the need to guide the committee structure and leadership toward urban redevelopment and higher density issues. How do you back fill for infrastructure? Water lines need to be this big. There needs to be more priority put on the types of issues that Valley Partnership needs to focus on. Valley Partnership has never been a self-policing type of situation. If there was a way to get a grassroots raising of the bar in our industry, have a position and a dialogue that causes the membership to say that they want to operate at a higher bar than they are used to, a lot of good leadership could come out of it. Valley Partnership could drive the message of its own.

DS: When I look at the greatest opportunity or challenges, I have two thoughts. One is I continue to believe that the best work that Valley Partnership does is at the grassroots levels and what it does with all of its cities and towns and educating the staff and working with them to write new ordinances. Urban infill is a green field. They are going to have a lot of homework to do. In the job of being the communicator and sharer of great ideas, Valley Partnership can really play a great leadership role. I think that the challenge and opportunity is to make sure that you have the right staff and have the right committees and have people who are committed and engaged to get in there. I have been blessed to see the impact we have on city managers and planning directors and staff people by just having a dialogue and saying this doesn’t work and let me tell you why. I think that there is great opportunity.

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5 Most Important Advocacy Issues
1. Passage of Proposition 303 in 1998, which created the Growing Smarter Act and allowed for municipalities to purchase Arizona State Trust Land for Conservation. This combined with the all-out effort to defeat a Portland-Style Growth Boundary Proposal, Proposition 202, which was on the ballot at the same time.

2. Collaborated with the City of Phoenix to draft the “Big Box Ordinance,” which protected the ability of retailers to operate facilities larger than 100,000 square feet.

3. Revised the Arizona State Statutes, which regulate municipality’s ability to use sales tax revenue to reimburse commercial real estate developers for the installation of public infrastructure.

4. Revised the Arizona State Statutes to preserve the Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET) to promote redevelopment in blighted areas of municipalities.

5. Supported the City of Phoenix at the Arizona Supreme Court by filing an Amicus Brief in Turken v. Gordon. The Amicus Brief helped persuade the Supreme Court that a municipality’s use of sales tax to reimburse developers for the cost of public infrastructure was not in violation of the Arizona Constitution.



For more information on Valley Partnership, visit Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnership.org.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012