Sometimes the glitz and glamour of the upcoming Super Bowl, bucket-list concerts, thrilling finish of the recent Fiesta Bowl, and the roar of F-35 jets from Luke Air Force Base seemingly overshadow the infrastructure needed to pull it all off.
But it’s there nonetheless – the roads and freeways, water and sewer, signs and signals, power and police. It has been years in the making.
Over the past 15 years, the City of Glendale has invested more than $400 million in infrastructure improvements to create a world-class environment for businesses large and small to thrive. The city’s Westgate Sports and Entertainment District straddling the Loop-101 has become a regional employment center with multiple Class A office buildings, Westgate Entertainment District, Tanger Outlets shopping, sprawling Cabela’s sporting goods and the Topgolf entertainment venue. The area is also home to 63,000-seat State Farm Stadium and the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, the 17,000-seat Gila River Arena and the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, and Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox play at Camelback Ranch Glendale during Cactus League Spring Training.
Recent improvement projects also coincide with Envision Glendale 2040, a forward-looking master plan passed by voters in 2016 that catapults Glendale onto the international stage as a leading economic powerhouse in the booming Southwest. Companies like Austria-based Red Bull have heeded the call, as have appliance manufacturer Conair, defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Magellan Aerospace, among others.
“There has been unprecedented activity in the entire corridor. This includes land sales, annexations and planned area developments, with applications filed on more than 20 properties along Loop-303 in western Glendale,” says City Manager Kevin Phelps. “It’s not necessarily the ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy but rather through careful and calculated investments. That, along with community input to create zones and infrastructure, draws companies, yields jobs and contributes to our tax base for future generations.”
The lauded partnership earlier this year among Red Bull, and juice-maker Raüch and bottler-canner Ball came on the heels of the opening of the Epcor Water Treatment Plant near Luke Air Force Base. That vital function paved the way for additional water, sewer, electric lines and other necessary infrastructure at Woolf Logistics Campus, a 1,300-acre master-planned area along Loop-303 and the city’s “New Frontier” development zone. Lincoln Property Company later announced plans to create the 265-acre Park 303 industrial center between Bethany Home Road and Glendale Avenue.
The arrival of these services in the far western section of the city, along with on- and off-ramp connections with Interstate-10 and Loop-303, punctuate a surge of interest in Glendale.
The New Frontier and Westgate are both now more accessible with the opening of Northern Parkway, which connects Loop-101 and 303 north of Glendale Avenue. Along the Parkway, Glendale Municipal Airport just received an $8.9 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to purchase land for runway approaches, making that area conducive to future growth and accommodating different types of aircraft.
With all this growth, garbage collection is serious business to residents, businesses and Waste Management, a firm best known locally as the title sponsor of the behemoth PGA Tour golf tournament in Scottsdale. The world leader in the art of recycling and solid waste collection and Fortune 250 company recently opened a new regional driver training center at 43rd Avenue and Camelback Road that boasts 57,000 square feet of training space and a driving course which will welcome a new group of 60 trainees each week from across the Nation.
Companies involved with logistics and transportation also welcomed the Loop-202 South Mountain freeway in December, creating a direct connection between Glendale and the Southeast Valley. The route also forms a downtown Phoenix bypass to Tucson and points further east, cutting travel time and alleviating traffic congestion.
As the West Valley continues to gain regional and national prominence, and the lights continue to shine on Glendale, these strategic infrastructure and capital investments will continue to benefit residents and businesses alike, something we can all be proud of for many years to come.
INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS KEY TO GLENDALE’S GROWTH
• Epcor water treatment facility opens in 2016 and paves way for new businesses and development in western portions of city.
• Northern Parkway, a 4.2-mile link between Loops 101 and 303 north of Luke Air Force Base.
• Water, power and sewer installations support Red Bull plant, related companies and continued growth in ‘New Frontier.’
• Municipal Airport land purchase, courtesy of FAA grant.
• Waste Management Training Center, creating best practices in recycling and solid waste processing.
• Loop-202 South Mountain Freeway opens in December 2019, connecting Glendale to the Southeast Valley.
Mark Nothaft is a longtime local journalist, who along with media executive Mi-Ai Parrish are co-founders of MAP Strategies Group of Phoenix, www.MAPstrategiesgroup.com.