By Ethan McSweeney
An extension of Edison Road west to State Route 238 will begin construction this summer pending approval of a contract by the Maricopa City Council in July.
That extension would allow the Estrella Gin Business Park, which is planned along the new Edison Road route, to move forward, but no definitive start date has been set for construction to begin on the project.
At its July 19 meeting, the Maricopa City Council will decide on a construction contract for the Edison Road extension past Maricopa Fire Department Station 575, where the road currently ends, said Josh Plumb, city engineering and floodplain manager. The extension would turn the two-lane road north through the future business park and connect to SR 238, providing an alternate route from State Route 347.
There is no price tag on the construction yet, Plumb said, as the details of the contract are still being negotiated.
Plumb said construction on the road extension will begin about one month after approval from the council, with construction slated to take about nine months.
“We’re anxious for it to get started,” Mayor Christian Price said. “It’s an important part of the future of business in our community.”
Both the Edison Road extension and the Estrella Gin Business Park have been delayed for years as the city has worked to negotiate the details of the projects with private landowners, Price said.
“I’d love it to be done already,” Price said. “The fact is we don’t control the private landowners, so whenever you work with someone, you have to work through different philosophies and different dreams.”
The City Council is also set to decide at its July 5 meeting on a contract with Electrical District No. 3 to build electrical infrastructure along the Edison Road extension as the road is being constructed, Plumb said. A contract with Global Water Resources is also scheduled for a vote from the council during that meeting.
The Boyer Company, a Salt Lake City-based real estate developer, plans to begin Estrella Gin Business Park’s construction with a 36,000-square-foot “flex space” building, said Denyse Airheart, economic development director for the city of Maricopa. The flex designation lets businesses use the space for office, warehouse or light industrial work.
“It allows tenants to have a wide variety of options for that space,” Airheart said.
It’s still unclear when exactly construction on the Estrella Gin Business Park will begin. Boyer will build the first building once it has attained 60 percent occupancy, Airheart said.
No one has signed a lease for space in the Estrella Gin Business Park yet, but information has been sent out to potential tenants, Airheart said. A prospective business would also sign a letter of intent before signing a lease for space in Estrella Gin.
Price said the lack of tenants is due to Boyer not marketing the space until recently because of the delayed progress on the Edison Road extension.
The delays to the Estrella Gin project through the years have frustrated Peter Cockle, owner of the shipping company SHIPFR8, who would like to move his business into the planned business park.
Cockle initially expressed his interest to move his business, which has locations in the Phoenix area, into Estrella Gin in 2012, when the then-economic development director for Maricopa told him about it. He signed a letter of intent and was told his business would be able to move in January 2014. Construction never got underway, and his letter of intent expired.
“We keep getting told they’re going to break ground, they’re going to break ground, they’re going to break ground,” Cockle said. “Last week, when I went over there, I didn’t see anything happening.”
Cockle has sought other options for places in Maricopa for his business, which needs plenty of space because of the trucks involved in his shipping. He said Boyer reached out to him a month ago to say the company would likely break ground before the end of the year.
“Yes, we’re interested, but we’ll believe it when we see it,” Cockle said.
Estrella Gin Business Park will have 40 acres of development for businesses, with buildings offering office, industrial and flex space. The firehouse and the City of Maricopa Maintenance Facility currently sit on the Estrella Gin property. Maricopa’s Amtrak station will also be relocated to the Estrella Gin property along Garvey Avenue.
Airheart is confident the space will be filled. “We have very low vacancy rates,” she said about Maricopa business space.
Estrella Gin would be Maricopa’s first light industrial business park. The city bought the 50-acre property in 2011 for $3.2 million.
This story appeared in the July issue of InMaricopa.