City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved buying 230 acres of farmland on the southeastern side for $12 million to help it better compete for large industrial projects with high-paying jobs.
“We have competed nationally and internationally and gotten down to the top five, even the top three, but we’re talking about people who want to invest $200 million to $1 billion in capital investment to grow a plant to house these jobs,” City Manager Rick Horst said. “What has hurt us is we don’t have land. We don’t have land.
“This particular site, which is right over here by the ethanol plant off Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, also has an added benefit in that it has a one-mile railroad spur, which provides opportunities – and I stress opportunities – for an inland port.”
The site is east of White and Parker Road between Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Peters and Nall Road. It is in a 300-acre area rezoned to industrial and employment uses in March. The land was purchased from Red River Cattle, LLP, and Pinal Feeding Co., formerly Smith & Kelly Feed Co., Inc.
Horst emphasized the companies are looking for land to address needs not only now but in the future.
“We have missed out on opportunities because we need land,” he said. “And not only do they say they want to make a $200 million or $400 million investment, but they need land to grow. And if they can’t have adjacent land where they can build a second phase, they are not interested. Not only do they want to have room to build, but they also want to have room to expand.”
Horst said that while there is a high cost, the city is getting value in the deal.
“Now, $12 million is a lot of money,” he said. “But the city is not borrowing the money. We’re not going to pay any interest on the money. We’re not going to raise taxes for the money. It’s actually in the city reserves for the purposes for which I am about to explain.”
Horst said the city is paying $1.38 per square foot when other land around the city is selling for $4 to $18 per square foot. It also addresses a need city officials hear frequently from the public to bring significant jobs to the area.
“We have been working with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Arizona Commerce Alliance and MEDA and through city efforts, and over the last six to nine months we have entertained a large number of national and international prospects, who could bring anywhere from 200 to 500 jobs in the $60,000 to $80,000, sometimes $90,000 per year average,” Horst said.
He added that while other municipalities have land, Maricopa has the work force and educated population those companies seek.
He added it will be a good financial investment for the city.
“So, we have the opportunity to purchase the land, and understand that we’re going to turn around and sell the land,” Horst said. “So, we will recoup our money, and I suspect we will sell it for more than what we buy it for. But more importantly, we will land jobs and capital investment and create a better quality of life.”
Former Mayor Christian Price, who is now president and CEO of MEDA, said the deal allows the city to control growth in the area.
“This is part of a bigger plan for growth and industry in this area,” Price said. “The city having control over it allows them to plan and work with surrounding landowners to help attract things that aren’t currently in Maricopa.”
Horst added there could be an aesthetic benefit to the deal, as well.
“It’s the last feed lot in town so we might get rid of the occasional aromas,” he said. “If you’re not aware, there are 60,000 cows out there. This process will take about a year.”
As part of the sale, the city has agreed to lease the land back to Pinal Feeding to allow the cattle on the site to be grown to maturity before being sold.
“He added that while other municipalities have land, Maricopa has the work force and educated population those companies seek.” That’s a joke, right? Arizona has some of the worst schools in the country, and Maricopa has some of the worst schools in the state. Would love to see where this demographic data is supposedly coming from. I guess it will be nice for Maricopa to at least smell less sh*tty though. Wait, you don’t suppose that was really the main point of this land sale, do you?
Also, quite amusing to me how we’ve had PLENTY of land to approve all this new residential housing for so long, and now we have no space left for businesses to support all the people that live here. I would once again like to take the opportunity to ask some of our city leaders who I know read these comments (Hi, Vince!) to familiarize themselves with StrongTowns.org