Ground broken on 312-unit apartment community

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price grabs a shovel as Councilmember Henry Wade and Eric Omdahl, a partner in Real Estate Equities, find their place in the groundbreaking line on Thursday morning at Copa Flats. [Brian Petersheim Jr.]

Real Estate Equities, a St. Paul, Minn.-based developer, held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for its $87.8 million Copa Flats project at 17485 N. Porter Road, just north of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

The event marked the public launch of the 312-unit project that will be built in five phases. Phase 1 is expected to have units available in April 2023, according to Eric Omdahl, a partner in REE. He said the project is designed to meet the need for affordable housing in Maricopa as the city continues to grow.

The 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units are classified as affordable housing and will be available to those earning 60 percent of the median income in Pinal County. That equates to incomes of between $30,000-$60,000 per year, Omdahl said. He added that rents would fall in the $950-$1,330 per month range.

The project is being funded through a $46 million bond transaction through Arizona Development Authority.

“The Arizona IDA’s main mission is to bring more affordable housing to the state and this project will provide a significant development of new units in Pinal County,” said Patrick Ray, the Arizona IDA program manager. “Limited amounts of affordable housing remain an impediment to Arizona’s continued growth. We are working with developers across the country to continue to boost the inventory for the thousands of people who want to relocate and call Arizona home.”

That mission aligns with that of REE. Omdahl said Copa Flats is addressing a vital need in the city for affordable housing and those being priced out of the single-family home market.

“Our target is people who live in this community who have seen the 20 percent spike in rent they’re paying in the Valley over the last year,” Omdahl said. “There are a number of new employment uses coming to Maricopa as part of the growth of the community and we see this as a viable housing choice for people who don’t want to get priced out of the market with single-family homes, which are now exceeding $2,000 a month on a rental basis.

“Not everyone can afford to put money down and get financing for a loan, so this is a good opportunity to provide a rental housing choice.”

Omdahl illustrated his point by saying that REE has an interest list with more than 20 names already, more than a year from initial occupancy and also referenced the Oasis at the Wells apartments that sit to the west of Copa Flats across Porter Road, saying, “our understanding is they have a wait list of over 300 residents who would be interested in applying if a vacancy became available there, so there seems to be a pretty big need.”

The need for multi-family housing was outlined by City Manager Rick Horst at Tuesday’s city council meeting. He cited a study by Elliot D. Pollack & Co. showing the vacancy rate across Arizona at less than 5 percent and nearly 900,000 more people expected to move into metro Phoenix in the 2020s. In addition, the largest portion of the state’s population is between 25-29 years of age – prime apartment-living years.

Mayor Christian Price said the city’s growth is a huge factor in the increasing need for affordable and multi-family housing.

“I’ve lived here for 18 years, and I’ve seen boom and bust, boom and bust,” Price said. “Today the median price of a home in Maricopa is about $350,000. In the Phoenix metro area, it’s about $400,000. So, I don’t know how people are going to be able to afford to live here in this beautiful area anymore.

“If we don’t have attainable housing, then we are literally shutting people out. This city is a city that is growing exceptionally rapidly. In doing so we have lots of new areas for stores coming online. We have lots of new police officers, and nurses, and firefighters, etc., and all these people make a great living and do a wonderful service. But if they’re just starting out in life, they have no place to live.”

Copa Flats will have 48 one-bedroom, one-bath units; 108 two-bedroom, two-bath units; and 156 three-bedroom, two-bath units. The community will consist of 13, three-story buildings with 24 apartment units per building.

According to REE, amenities in the community will include a pool, fitness center, yoga studio, club room with a kitchen, and grilling stations. Interiors are complete with high-quality finishes such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, in-unit washers and dryers, 9-foot ceilings and vinyl-plank flooring.

Copa Flats is REE’s 10th affordable housing development since 2016. The company specializes in multifamily apartment management and development and manages and/or owns a portfolio of more than 4,000 units throughout Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and now Arizona.