Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart is proud of the teamwork that created the Edison Road extension.

The Edison Road extension is complete.

Edison Pointe is finalizing leases.

Commercial development at Copper Sky may also see some stimulation in 2017.

Estrella Gin Business Park is still waiting for the light to shine.

City of Maricopa Town Hall Meeting

Public Works Director Bill Fay will give an update on the SR347 Overpass, Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart will let you know the latest information on the Edison Pointe development, and the mayor and councilmembers will be there to answer your questions and listen to your concerns.

What: City of Maricopa Town Hall Meeting
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 6 p.m.
Where: City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
Who: All residents are invited.

Pieces are in motion for construction of an overpass to begin this year. Developers are reviving nearly-forgotten subdivision plans. APEX Motor Club and Denny’s have shown plans to build in Maricopa.

Economic development in Maricopa is showing varying signs of progress this year as the city has studied approaches to growing the economic base of the community.

The improving economy has not necessarily created changes to the demographics of Maricopa. Denyse Airheart, the director of the city’s Economic Development Department, does not predict major changes to the methodology when the Economic Development Strategic Plan takes form this year.

“We target companies based off the assets of the community,” Airheart said.

That includes the youth (the average age of Maricopa residents is 33.8 years), income and education level of the population. Those selling points look much as they did three years ago.

A draft of the Economic Development Strategic Plan is scheduled to come before city council in April.

Maricopa may broaden its target sectors, Airheart said. Growth of employment opportunities within Pinal County, especially Casa Grande, may also impact the plan. But Maricopa is still selling itself.

Nailing down a description of Maricopa for prospective companies and creating a narrative of its future is not just a challenge for City Hall. Retail developers have had similar tests.

Edison Pointe

Edison Pointe, at the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road, is about a year behind leasing a typical development of its size, according to Vintage Partners leasing director Casey Treadwell. He said it has been difficult educating retailers on the attributes of Maricopa.

“I know it’s been frustrating for people wanting to see something going,” he said. At a Maricopa Advocates Program meeting in February, he predicted movement on the ground within a couple of weeks. But a month later, he said Vintage was still putting final leases in place.

Businesses he announced as part of the development are Ross, Burger King, Planet Fitness, Dunkin’ Donuts and Petco.

Mayor Christian Price has called it a game of enticement.

“The city’s doesn’t control economic development,” he said. “We can advocate for it and we can entice for it. We can go out and sell our wares as to why it’s a great place to be, but I can’t make somebody locate here.”

Copper Sky

The City itself knows the irritation of owning commercial property that stands empty for years. It has property at Copper Sky intended for commercial development since the park’s inception. An effort to develop the land may soon be renewed.

“In 2014 we went out to bid, and it just wasn’t the right time, we believe, for the economy,” Airheart said. “We anticipate we would go out sometime in 2017.”

The conceptual plan includes mixed-use commercial, a hotel and a restaurant.

“What we envision there is a destination where people can go and enjoy themselves, where people can go and get an ice cream and sit and enjoy people-watching,” Airheart said. “As you know, we sort of don’t have that sense of place because of how quickly we sprung up.”

Edison Road

The City of Maricopa also owns commercial property at what is planned as the Estrella Gin Business Park. Luring companies to the site has been a struggle, but the six-year effort has produced a new roadway – the Edison Road extension.

Airheart calls the new road one of the proudest achievements of her department.

“All the partners had to work together to make Edison Road a project,” she said.

The road was completed in March and provides another bypass between State Route 238 and John Wayne Parkway. Using a federal grant, the city worked with private landowners and utilities for years to construct the road, which includes sidewalks, curb, gutter and a center median.

Estrella Gin

The road was created to access Estrella Gin, and that project has been a problem. The city contracted with The Boyer Company to market the flex space in the business park. That contract expires in June.

Matt Jensen, a partner in Boyer, said there has been a lot of interest from small companies needing only 1,200 square feet while the city is trying to market to industrial businesses. A couple of proposals have gone out to larger enterprises. There is also an ongoing discussion with the City of Maricopa about moving the fire department administration offices to Estrella Gin.

“That would actually be fantastic,” Jensen said.

Without leases in place, the city will not begin construction, but Airheart said the city is looking at “multiple options” if the contract expires without tenants being signed. She maintains a positive attitude about city-owned commercial property.

“A community that’s investing in itself means that it’s a healthy community. So we’re showing the development community there are investments to be made,” she said.


This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Mason Callejas
Photo by Mason Callejas

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