Council OKs 162 townhouse units near Estrella Gin Business Park

Mayor Nancy Smith, shown here at the Sept. 22 City Council meeting, had strong comments in support of the city's need for multi-family housing at Tuesday's meeting. The city needs about 6,500 multi-family units now to have the desired ratio of apartments to single-family homes. [Victor Moreno]

City Council gave the go-ahead for more multi-family housing on Tuesday, as it unanimously approved three measures that will move forward a townhouse project adjacent to Estrella Gin Business Park.

The approved measures include a minor General Plan land-use amendment to high-density residential from employment use; a zone map amendment changing the zoning to high-density residential from light industrial; and finally rezoning 10.2 acres on the southeastern corner of West Edison Road and North Estrella Parkway for high-density residential.

Developer Construction Solutions Company will build the 162-unit, multi-family project adjacent to the Estrella Gin commercial development at Edison and Loma roads.

Elevations submitted by the developer call for five three-story buildings of about 40 feet in height with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

Two acres of the site will be carved out as one-acre parcels to be rezoned as neighborhood commercial to allow development of commercial pads, which are planned to house at least one business with a drive-through window.

Community amenities will include a clubhouse, pool area, greenbelt, walking paths throughout the site and enclosed parking garages. There will be 399 onsite parking spaces.

The city has long touted the need for multi-family housing and commissioned a study, which shows it needs 25% of its housing to be multi-family. Currently, there are more than 22,000 single-family homes in Maricopa, meaning the city needs 6,253 multi-family units to reach that benchmark.

Housing Plan Goal

There are 2,133 multi-family units entitled in the city – those either built or approved –leaving a shortfall of more than 4,100 multi-family units to reach 25%.

There are more than 70,000 single-family homes entitled in Maricopa’s planning area, which would call for about 18,000 multi-family units to satisfy that 25% the study recommends.

Mayor Nancy Smith and Vice Mayor Vincent Manfredi both spoke strongly in favor of the townhouse project, citing the need to provide more housing diversity.

“As more and more people are living in the city of Maricopa, more and more commercial will be coming,” Manfredi said. “We’ll see big-box stores coming, the Lowe’s and places like that in the near future. We’ll see the places like the stores you see in Tempe Marketplace. You’ll see more and more of that in the city as more people move to Maricopa.

“But to think that all that is going to happen before the people get here, it’s not happening,” Manfredi continued. “You’re not going to open up a store and hope people move to an area.”

He cited what happened to several major retailers who bet on growth in Casa Grande and lost in the Promenade project.

“The Promenade is basically empty,” Manfredi said. “That’s why Target is no longer there, Sam’s Club is no longer there, Best Buy is no longer there as well Foot Locker and so many other stores that opened there in anticipation of the growth, and it didn’t happen. Commercial development follows rooftops, not the other way around. We need multi-family housing for the growth we want as a city.”

Smith cited the danger of a bill passing similar to one introduced in the Arizona Legislature last year, in which the state would assume zoning control from cities. See: State house bill would strip local zoning authority – InMaricopa

“Every community in the metro area, probably every community in the state of Arizona, is behind on multi-family development. They’re behind,” Smith said. “And that is why the state Legislature is looking to take control of zoning. And then, if they do take control, they get to pick what goes where, how much housing you put in, what it looks like – and we do not want that to happen. No community within the metro area…wants that to happen.

“So, the challenge is to stay on top of it, so we continue to win the argument that local control is the way this needs to go so we determine what goes where, what it looks like, and we have control of our destiny. In order to have economic development you have to have people who can work there, and you have to have housing they can afford.”

In other business, Council approved an Interim Presiding Judge Agreement with Stephen McCarville for the remainder of this calendar year, largely to oversee the city’s transition to a stand-alone municipal court and agreed that McCarville will be interim Presiding judge for the entire 2023 calendar year.

Editor’s note: Vincent Manfredi is co-owner of InMaricopa.