You can learn a lot by talking to your neighbors, or future neighbors. My company, Merit Partners, is planning a $100+ million industrial park in south Phoenix. The company is transforming an old and blighted former cement plant into a robust business park which will provide as many as 1,000 jobs, mostly light industrial such as packing and shipping.
In addition to the construction costs, Merit is spending $11 million on a much-needed environmental cleanup of the site. The site sits next to the Rio Salado and borders a City of Phoenix trail.
As cleanup is winding down and construction is ramping up, we thought it would be a good idea to meet our future neighbors. We held a celebration at the site with a local food truck and a live DJ from the area. We passed out brochures of the site plan. We talked with the community and we listened to their concerns.
We heard from community leaders and residents who told us about the need for jobs in an area hard hit by unemployment in a COVID economy. We heard from longtime residents who were tired of the river bed being trashed. We heard from business leaders eager to see the area revitalized. We heard from local artists about on site murals. We heard from neighbors determined to see the Rio Salado restored.
The landscaping will include native plants to complement the existing nature trail. It will be a dramatic change from the old cement plant. As Phoenix and other cities contemplate “Rio Reimagined,” we are very proud to be playing our part to dramatically improve a property along the river banks.
Over the years Merit has learned it is smart business to actively reach out and seek neighborhood and community input on our prospective projects. We learned that south Phoenix is a welcoming community that both needs and deserves new investment.
New light rail routes will make it easier to commute to work. The hiking trails along the Salt River will be a breathtaking amenity. The area has a population that is eager to get back to work.
In short, the area is an untapped resource. The City of Phoenix deserves much of the credit. It smartly put out a welcome mat by expanding light rail and fostering Rio Salado restoration. The city understands that south Phoenix can be an exciting hub for business – and so do we. The proximity and views to both downtown Phoenix and the city’s amazing South Mountain Regional Park are striking.
The seeds have been planted, and we are happy to have one of our projects in the area begin to take root. This may be the most rewarding thing of all: to see what’s about to bloom after this important 83 acre site is cleaned up and cultivated.
Kevin Czerwinski is principal and president at Merit Partners.