Tags Articles tagged with "construction"


The new administration building for the fire department nears completion.

The commercial area around Walmart has been the focus of planning and construction this spring.

Bahama Buck’s received a commercial permit March 17 for its planned store at 17470 N. Porter Road in Power Center the Wells. The shaved-ice emporium is to be a 2,030-square-foot building with a 332-square-foot patio on the east side of the Walmart parking lot. The project is valued at $349,000.

A+ Charter Schools is going up on Alan Stephens Parkway.

A+ Charter Schools received its commercial permit March 18, with construction quickly underway at 41735 W. Alan Stephens Parkway. The 25,022-sqare-foot building, valued at $3.5 million, is to be a charter high school.

Mountain Trace Development commenced construction on several buildings comprising the Oasis at the Wells housing units at 41535 W. Shea Way between Walmart and Banner Health. The developer received commercial permits for four buildings – a clubhouse, a 36-unit building that is 39,456 square feet, a 24-unit building that is 29,350 square feet and a 12-unit building of 13,046 square feet. The four buildings are valued at nearly $10 million.

Meanwhile, Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission gave its collective nod to Seasons Living at Copper Sky to rezone 3.82 acres for the planned construction of senior housing on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Of the 150 planned units, 62 are to be assisted living, 54 independent living and 34 memory care.

A development on John Wayne Parkway will include Iconic Tire and an animal hospital.

New construction at Maricopa Town Plaza, 19975 W. John Wayne Parkway, includes Iconic Tire, a veterinary hospital and a restaurant. Owner Triple B AZ received a commercial shell permit for a 3,940-square-foot shell for the site and a tenant improvement permit for a Riliberto’s eatery.

Volkswagen of America, 17169 N. Murphy Road, is working on drainage issues due to erosion at the entrance to its test track.

This item appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

A Walgreens near Big 5 is being prepped for opening this year.
Leading Edge Academy is adding space for its online high school, which will open for the new school year.
The City of Maricopa is building a library near White & Parker and Bowlin.
Dental offices are nearing completion off Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway next to the second Walgreens.

Aerial photo of widening project on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway by Kyle Norby (flight courtesy Desert Rat Aviation)

A road-widening project that started Jan. 6 has an end in sight.

A stretch of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway between Porter Road and White and Parker Road is being expanded to four lanes. The construction comprises  the City of Maricopa’s 2016 agreement with Arizona Department of Transportation.

According to the city’s Public  Services Department, paving started this week and will continue through May 9. The lanes will then be striped May 11-13 ahead of opening.

The primary purpose of the project is to “increase traffic capacity” on the 1.7-mile stretch. New left-turn lanes at both ends of the expansion are also part of the project. ADOT is in charge of the project.

The project cost about $3.6 million, mostly from Federal Highway Administration funding. Matching funds of 5.7% from the City of Maricopa came from the half-cent County Road Tax Fund.

In September, Nesbitt Contracting beat out three others for the bid, which was 7% over the state’s estimate.

The widening of MCGH includes a new traffic-control system at White and Parker Road. According to the City, that is scheduled for completion May 7.

As the MCGH project draws to a close, the City is gearing up a project to install a traffic signal on White and Parker Road at Honeycutt Road. That is expected to begin in two weeks and be completed by the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

Any closure of the intersection requires most traffic in East Maricopa to use Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to reach the west side of town.

The intersection has been surveyed and pole area marks completed. City staff is requesting an update from the contractor.

Former mayor Kelly Anderson and Mayor Christian Price check out the view from above Wednesday. Photos by Jim Headley


Maricopa Mayor Christian Price and the city’s first mayor Kelly Anderson took a hands-on tour over the State Route 347 overpass early Wednesday morning with Wes Carnahan, the city’s street maintenance manager. During the tour they met with Dan Keller, project manager with Ames Construction, Chris Kane, project manager of the southwest region for Ames, and Jason Dyer, project superintendent with Ames. Also, on the tour were Mike Riggs, Maricopa’s public works director, and the city’s public information officer, Adam Wolfe. The new overpass in the heart of Maricopa is to open for traffic around July 4, according to Ames.

The Arizona Department of Transportation will be carrying out overnight closures of three intersections in Maricopa this week. These will be full closures of each intersection during the following times:

Hathaway Avenue and SR 347 Intersection – The closure will be from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday.

  • Detour for southbound SR 347 traffic: Drive west on Edison Road to Wilson Avenue. Travel south on Wilson Avenue to Garvey Road, and then proceed eastbound on Garvey Road to re-enter southbound SR 347.
  • Detour for northbound SR 347 traffic: Drive west on Garvey Avenue to Wilson Avenue. Travel north on Wilson Avenue to Edison Road, and then proceed eastbound on Edison Road to re-enter northbound SR 347.

Honeycutt Road and Plainview Street intersection – The closure will also be from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday.

  • Detour: Use Maricopa Groves Parkway to access Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway (MCGH).

Alterra Parkway and SR 347 intersection – The closure will be from 9 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday.

  • Detour for southbound SR 347 traffic: From SR 347, drive southeast on MCGH to Porter Road. Travel south on Porter Road to Farrell Road, and then use westbound Farrell Road to re-connect to SR 347.
  • Detour for northbound SR 347 traffic: Drive east on Farrell Road to Porter Road. Travel north on Porter Road to access SR 347 from MCGH.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors.

Head to www.OverpassTracker.com for an overview of the project, frequent updates on traffic impacts, project timelines, maps and videos of what the project will look like when complete. The City of Maricopa has also established a 24/7 Hotline for you to call and get answers to more specific questions or concerns at 520-316-6910.

Jacob Harmon is the new business director for MUSD.


Maricopa Unified School District is receiving $22.3 million dollars plus 40 acres of land from the state’s School Facilities Board (SFB) for a second high school.

The status of the land is a question mark.

“We do not have it defined. We do not have it located,” Superintendent Tracey Lopeman told the governing board Wednesday. “We are in the process of securing our representation so that we can be properly represented when we go out and discuss purchase and donations.”

She estimated the proffered 40 acres might be appropriate for a “starter high school” that had been discussed during capital-improvement talks. The new high school is estimated to be 125,000 square feet. The original cost is $179.69 per square foot.

“When we make application for a building-renewal grant, there’s a process and policies,” Facilities Director Scott Fall-Leaf said, leading to a brief explanation of new SFB policies regarding roofing and HVAC. The latter includes a flow chart that MHS has not yet submitted to.

SFB funding, which Lopeman described as “statutorily eligible new construction, renovation and repair projects,” is familiar to MUSD.

Jacob Harmon, the district’s new business director, said past projects at MUSD funded by SFB amounted to more than $122 million. That includes about $2 million in land from 2001 to 2008 and $115.6 million for the construction of eight schools between 2001 and 2011.

Currently, the district has two projects being paid for by SFB.

Facilities Director Scott Fall-Leaf (left) and Business Director Jacob Harmon

Fall-Leaf said a sewer line is being repaired at Maricopa Elementary School. SFB is giving $47,630 to that project. At the high school is the more involved project of a submersible pump and water well repair. SFB awarded MUSD $530,600 for that project.

The district has noted the possible need for a second high school since at least 2008, when a developer tried to donate 60 acres to the cause just before the housing bubble burst and the Great Recession stopped all development. This year, with the current high school over capacity, “possible need” is now a certainty and wheels have been put in motion to build a second high school sooner rather than later. While the high school is being planned, MHS is putting in portable classrooms on the east side of campus.

School land between the baseball and softball lands is prepped for portable classrooms to be used next school year.

Photo by Jim Headley


The State Route 347 overpass construction project in Maricopa is right on track.

“We’re making great progress,” said Thomas Herrmann, public information officer for the Arizona Department of Transportation. “A couple weeks ago we poured the concrete on the deck of the portion of the bridge over the railroad tracks. The next big thing is to pour the deck on the section that goes over the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. We’re looking about two weeks out on that.”

Overnight on April 24 and again April 30, the Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will be closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., as construction crews pour the concrete deck over the highway.

“So, it will have the least impact on traffic,” Herrmann said. “We’re moving forward on that.”

Herrmann said when examining the project timeline, it looks like the overpass will be open to initial traffic in late June or early July.

“We’re looking at less than three months to open up the new alignment on 347 and have traffic on the new overpass,” he said. “Then we will get over and start making the adjustments on the current alignment of 347. It is coming up very quickly.”

The current alignment of 347 will have added cul-de-sacs, and other roadways will have to be reconnected.


“If you go out to the site, you can see new curbing down and those kinds of things to connect Honeycutt Avenue to the new alignment of 347 south of the overpass,” Herrmann said. “Honeycutt Road, which has been closed for a while, will remain closed until we open the new alignment.”

He said Honeycutt Road will likely open in late June.

“It all looks really good,” he said. “You can already see the walls set up, the decorative walls are in place. It is really starting to look like a project that is coming together. It will give us that new alignment that will save people a lot of time coming in and out of town.”

A variety of Caterpillar equipment moves dirt on the large parcel that is planned to be Apex Motor Club.

As Apex Motor Club begins to rise out of 278 acres on the northwest corner of State Route 238 and Ralston Road, Club members have specific expectations for the private racetrack.

Joe Rueda of Scottsdale drives a BMW M3 as a dedicated racecar and a Porsche as his street car.

He has been involved with Apex Motor Club since Jason Plotke, Matt Williams and Jim Beatty first started talking about the idea. Rueda became a member as soon as the club officially formed three years ago.

“We would drive on other racetracks, and it was so much fun, but it was so far away,” he said. The site in Maricopa, he said, was perfect.

“You can’t drop a racetrack in the middle of a residential area,” Rueda said, “so the land in Maricopa was perfect and the size was perfect.”

There are three fundamentals club members will expect from Apex, said Rueda, whose car enthusiasm began with his childhood Matchbox collection.

1. One is visceral connection. He bought his first car two years before he could legally drive it and learned how to maintain and fix it. The experience of driving a car, tinkering with it to improve its handling and then driving it again to see if the tinkering helped is an integral part of a private track.

2. Drivers also want a course designed for car people by car people. Apex is expected to be a place where they interact with their cars in a way they cannot on the street. Rueda said today’s sports cars far exceed what drivers can do with them on a public road. With so much automatic response now, he said, the automotive industry is taking away the driving experience in day-to-day life.

3. The most important aspect of a car club, he said, is the camaraderie with other enthusiasts and being able to compare experiences. Many of the friends he has made over the years have come through the car culture.

Rueda said the positive response the project received from City Hall and from the residents was fortifying when the legal opposition arose. “It made it easier to plow through,” he said. “If [the City] had waffled a little, I don’t know if we would have had the confidence to keep on going.”

Plotke, who is president of Private Motorsports Group, said the plan is to open Apex “early next year.”

“We’re not developers that are going to move on to the next city and sell this,” Plotke said. “We want to have our kids and their kids work here and have something that a lot of people can enjoy for a long period of time.”

Plotke said Apex intends to be involved in the community and involve the community in the facility, such as police training. Even beyond that, Rueda said philanthropy is important to all the members of the club. He expects that to become evident in Maricopa.

This story was published in part in the December issue of InMaricopa.

Construction crews are busy on the overpass project between Honeycutt Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Photo by Jim Headley

“I don’t think people realize that they can still get into the plaza by just continuing on down the road. It has been slowing us down a little bit.” Rose Murrufo, employee, Maricopa Business Center

Let’s face it, no one likes driving through construction zones.

Early this week Honeycutt Road was closed from Pershing Street to John Wayne Parkway to allow for the construction of the new railroad overpass. It will remain closed until summer.

While it does cause a lot of problems and navigation nightmares, the people of Maricopa are taking it all in stride.

One of the most seriously affected businesses is Mel’s Auto/NAPA Autocare Center. Owner Tena Dugan is getting ready to close their location and move somewhere else in Maricopa. She is unsure where or when the business will move.

The NAPA dealership has been at the corner of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and State Route 347 since the 1950s.

“Right now, we have three different locations that we’re looking at – it kind of depends on which one pans out the best,” Dugan said.  “It’s not just prices, it’s utilities. Infrastructure is a big deal in Maricopa when you’re trying to put in a business. While it may be the right price for the land, the cost to get that land to where it needs to be to build a building is so prohibitive that the more expensive piece of property is the better deal.

“Maricopa is such a relatively new town that the infrastructure is just not there in a lot of these vacant areas.”

Dugan has owned the store since 2002.

“It was a great location when we bought. It was a corner with lots of land. We don’t own it – we have a landlord. The City actually took a portion of the back and we’ve had our fence moved several times. Right now, this is not an optimal location,” she said. “My employees still come to work every day. We do the best job that we can do, and we rely on our loyal customers who keep coming back. They are the ones who keep us in business right now. We knew it was coming for a long time. We just didn’t know when.”

Businesses in Maricopa Business Plaza on Honeycutt Road have been affected by the traffic detours. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


With detours and construction everywhere around the store, NAPA’s business has suffered.

“It has been a substantial punch to my business. People can’t get to us. This is the absolute worst traffic nightmare I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I know you have to go backwards to go forwards. Sometimes you wonder,” she said, adding, “People are creatures of habit. You do what is habit. This is a very large traffic control change.”

With the construction still going on all around her, Dugan offered some advice.

“You have a choice in life. You can either adapt and overcome or you can worry yourself into the ground. I have a lot of employees who are relying on me to keep this business going – so that’s what we are going to do,” Dugan said.

Businesses in the Maricopa Business Center on Honeycutt Road are all still open, and there are still access points into the business plaza.

“I don’t think people realize that they can still get into the plaza by just continuing on down the road. It has been slowing us down a little bit,” said Rosa Murrufo, an employee at Metro by T Mobile.

Carol Steinke, a Maricopa north-side resident, said she is looking forward to the new overpass.

“If it means that will fly over the railroad tracks, I am all for it. I’ve been here 12 years and I go to that side of the railroad tracks a lot. I play bingo. I go to church. All of that’s over there and I live on this side. I’ll be happy. Sometimes we wait 20 minutes for a train that has people on it to go by,” Steinke said.

Joe Templin, owner of Joe’s Barber Shop in the Maricopa Business Center, said he was slow on Tuesday but added it’s not unusual to be a little slow on Tuesdays.

“I really haven’t found it too inconvenient. Of course, it is inconvenient, but it could be worse,” he said, adding the businesses in the plaza are very popular and established places to frequent.

“I just don’t see it hindering the business too much,” Templin said.

He is also looking forward to how traffic will flow in front of Maricopa Business Center after the overpass is completed. With the addition of Plainview Street, traffic coming from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will flow over to John Wayne Parkway right in front of the plaza on Honeycutt Road.

“Six months of construction, but it’s worth it in the end,” Templin said.

InMaricopa is a tenant of Maricopa Business Plaza.

Construction has been a growing major sector in Arizona's employment. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Arizona lost 7,200 nonfarm jobs from April to May, but the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.9 percent to 4.7 percent.

“Building construction recorded its largest over-the-year gain in nearly 12 years.” — Adam Turk

The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity released the jobs report Thursday.

Compared to May 2017, the state added 70,700 total jobs. Economist Adam Turk said manufacturing, education and construction were drivers in job creation in May.

“Building construction recorded its largest over-the-year gain in nearly 12 years,” Turk said.

There were 5,100 jobs added in the subsector of building construction, a 17.8 percent increase.

In particular, the construction subsector of specialty trades saw job growth up 9.1 percent compared to last May. In the United States, that number is 4.2 percent, reflecting the increased construction activity in Arizona.

Manufacturing has seen a recent upsurge in hiring. Overall, the sector grew 5.5 percent since last year and 1.3 percent since April. That is an increase of 8,900 jobs, the largest gain in 20 years.

Turk said manufacturing of computer and electric parts – “a sector where we, for the past several years, have seen job losses month over month” – has turned around since the final quarter of 2017 to post job growth. Its year-over-year increase was 9.7 percent.

The education and health services sector grew by 14,100 jobs over the year, the biggest increase in the state. Turk said that was primarily driven by additional education hires, possibly due to the state’s new education budget.

In Pinal County, the biggest employers were in the service industries, though that showed a month-to-month loss of 50 jobs. A number of sectors were down slightly in May compared to April, including manufacturing, business and professional services, hospitality trades and trade, transportation and utilities.

Construction jobs increased in Pinal County, as did government jobs and education.

Overall, the county’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.6 percent in April to 4.1 percent in May.

To prepare for upcoming work, crews will CLOSE Maricopa/Casa Grande Highway just east of Napa Auto Parts, scheduled for the night of Tuesday, April 3, beginning at 9 p.m. until approximately 5 a.m. Wednesday, April 4.

In addition, crews will also CLOSE Honeycutt Road, east of SR 347, scheduled for the night of Thursday, April 5, beginning at 9 p.m. until approximately 5 a.m. Friday, April 6.

Detour signage will be in place to direct travelers around the closures. These closures will allow crews to set concrete barriers and remove and replace striping, so that on the following morning, the roads will be open for travel with traffic shifted away from the upcoming work activity.

Head to www.OverpassTracker.com for an overview of the project, frequent updates on traffic impacts, project timelines, maps and videos of what the project will look like when complete. The City of Maricopa has also established a 24/7 Hotline for you to call and get answers to more specific questions or concerns at 520-316-6910.

The SR 347 Overpass will create a bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR.) Traffic on SR 347 averages more than 31,000 vehicles per day and future (2040) projections show over 60,000 vehicles per day. There are currently 40 to 60 trains per day; the UPRR has plans to expand service, which would increase train traffic upwards of 100 trains per day. Additionally, the Amtrak station is located just west of the intersection and vehicular traffic is routinely delayed for its passenger operations. The completion of the Overpass project will drastically ease traffic congestion and increase safety in the area.

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Homestead construction


As construction on residential housing ramps up in Maricopa, the city is considering ways to make the process easier for developers.

Last year the city received 500 residential building permits, and recent projections predict major growth ahead.

During a city council work session March 20, the Development Services Department presented the city’s current procedure: An eight-application process that usually entails two years of meetings and sub-steps before a builder receives a building permit.

A team of planners began brainstorming how to consolidate timewasting steps and documents about a year ago.

The result was a color-coded flow chart that details the city’s process used since pre-recession Maricopa as well as updated steps the department has identified and streamlined.

Development Services Director Martin Scribner said even with improvements, development processes are inherently complex across the nation.

“As a rule, the process is complicated,” Scribner said.

The process is detailed in a digital timeline that essentially serves as a snapshot of what developers could expect during the pre-development stages.

Some of the department’s major consolidation in the process affected the construction and inspection portion of the process.

SMARTGov, the city’s digital terminal for permit viewing and submittal, is a big part of that, according to Senior Planner Rodolfo Lopez.

“(Developers) don’t have to resubmit some of those documents unless something is changed or modified,” Lopez said. “This process streamlines it a lot quicker.”

The city has been teasing a redesign of its website and Mayor Christian Price indicated he’d like to see the process timeline posted on the city’s digital front page once the online update is completed.

Development Services is expected to compose a similar timeline for commercial development, which entails an even more complicated process.

Vice Mayor Peggy Chapados said the digital flow chart could decrease the number of complaints the city receives from commercial builders regarding perceived delays in the process.

The commercial development presentation is expected sometime in the future.

“The more information we get out there, the better,” Price said.


Goodwill, Ross and Planet Fitness are scheduled to open this month. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Businesses within the new Edison Pointe shopping plaza are beginning to open this month.

The first opening is the Goodwill store, which plans a grand opening March 16 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The thrift store is offering a $5 gift card to the first 150 people in line. They will have coffee and doughnuts.

Those who bring a bag of donations during the opening weekend, March 16-18, will receive a $5 coupon.

Planet Fitness is already taking memberships and has its grand opening planned for March 27 at 11 a.m. The 24-hour gym is offering pre-grand opening discounts.

Ross Dress for Less is also on track to open in late March, but date and time have not been set.

Other upcoming businesses include Dunkin Donuts and Wingstop. Construction of a Burger King has not yet begun.

The plaza is at 20595 N. John Wayne Parkway on the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road.

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Plumbing and slab work for a new Denny’s restaurant was completed in the past week, and walls are going up quickly, but don’t flip your pancakes yet.

“At this time, we do not have a tentative opening date available,” Denny’s representative Jillian Hutwagner said.

However, Denny’s has put out the call for job applicants.

The property at 21195 N. John Wayne Parkway has been under construction since September. Halabu Development and Construction is building a 4,041-square-foot diner near the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road.

The owner of the property is Camden Holdings.

MOBILE USERS GET NEWS FIRST. Download InMaricopa for Apple and Android devices.

Photo by Mason Callejas

As Phase 1 construction of a multi-million-dollar expansion nears completion this fall, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino is planning a job fair in August to fill new positions.

What: Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Job Fair
When: Aug. 10, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Central Arizona College – Maricopa, 17945 N. Regent Drive
Info: Caesars.com/Harrahs-Ak-Chin


Talent Specialist Jamie Westmiller said the facility will be hiring 50-75 people, about half of them full-time.

“They will be mostly hospitality positions with a few security positions mixed in,” he said.

Available positions include cooks, food servers, host/cashiers, housekeeping, facilities maintenance, restaurant supervisor and beverage supervisor. All positions have a 401K, Westmiller said. Full-time positions get heath care, dental and vision.

Westmiller said Ak-Chin Indian Community members will get preference. Because the job fair will have on-site interviews and on-site hiring, potential applicants are asked to fill out an application online at www.caesars.com/harrahs-ak-chin before arriving at the job fair.

And be prepared to turn on the charm.

“We always hire for personality and train for skills,” General Manager Robert Livingston said. “We’re looking for upbeat, positive energy.”

Phase 1 includes the new restaurant and wine bar Oak & Fork. Livingston said those hired to work there will need to be passionate about wine and educating customers about wine, though the restaurant will “not be a snooty place.”

The current construction involves “basically everything to the north,” Livingston said. That includes a parking garage, 18,000-square-foot ballroom, expansion of the casino floor, expansion of the buffet into the space now occupied by The Range Steakhouse, dedicated Diamond Lounge, upstairs BINGO hall and other changes for office space.

Separately but simultaneously, Ak-Chin Indian Community is constructing an elevated walkway linking the casino property to UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. Ak-Chin is working with Arizona Department of Transportation to move the traffic light north to Ak-Chin Parkway, to make that the main entry to the casino and hotel.

Next year, Phase II will include the hotel tower that adds another 230 rooms to the 300 existing, a new restaurant called Chop Block & Brew and a spa and fitness center. Late in 2018 will be the beginning of the renovation of the pool and resort rooms around it.

While the construction has been inconvenient or confusing for some long-time customers, Livingston said they’ve enjoyed the portholes cut into the temporary walkway walls that provide a view of the construction.

“It’s going to be a great addition to Maricopa and the whole of Pinal County,” he said. “We’re running short on rooms right now, and this will allow us to expand on what we do.”

 Westmiller said a second job fair is planned later in the year.

Photo by Mason Callejas

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Culver's expects to open in early 2017.

The pace of progress is different for various business construction around Maricopa.

Construction is moving steadily on the Culver’s restaurant at the southwest corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road. Culver’s Area Supervisor Joe Wood said an opening date will be “anywhere from late January to mid-February.”

The Edison Road extension will provide access to Estrella Gin Business Park.
The Edison Road extension will provide access to Estrella Gin Business Park.

Edison Road Extension
Edison Road is undergoing construction as the city extends it to State Route 238. It is to be an access for the future Estrella Gin Business Park and a bypass for John Wayne Parkway. The construction contract with Achen-Gardner is $4.6 million. There is also a $340,000 agreement with Electrical District No. 3 for lights and power along the road. It is estimated to be completed in April.

Big 5 Sporting Goods went up quickly on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.
Big 5 Sporting Goods went up quickly on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Big 5
The 11,000-square-foot building for a Big 5 Sporting Goods store is going up quickly at the Maricopa Power Center, The Wells, in front of Wal-Mart on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Opening is planned later this year.

Harrah's Ak-Chin is the middle of Phase 1 construction of a major expansion.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin is the middle of Phase 1 construction of a major expansion.

Harrah’s Ak-Chin Expansion
Construction crews are working in what used to be the north parking lot of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino as the property prepares for Phase 1 of its expansion, which will include added hotel rooms, a new lobby, a new pool, a parking garage, a new ballroom and new dining establishments. The work has required a shift in parking. Completion of the entire project is expected in 2018.

This article appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Smaller, more affordable homes the new trend

LGI Homes is among residential developers who saw it was time to build again in Maricopa.

By Ethan McSweeney

Meritage is building quickly again in the adults-only gated community of Province while also putting in new homes in the Lakes at Rancho El Dorado. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Meritage is building quickly again in the adults-only gated community of Province while also putting in new homes in the Lakes at Rancho El Dorado. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Home-building is booming yet again in Maricopa as companies build out neighborhoods and look to buy land for new communities elsewhere in the city.

From May 1 through July 15, the city of Maricopa issued 155 housing permits, with the total value for those homes around $37 million. Fifty-seven of those permits were issued in May, and the city issued another 84 in June.

For comparison, during 2015, 34 permits were in issued in May and 27 were issued in June, marking increases of 68 percent and 211 percent this year, respectively.

“I guess the secret’s out,” said Chris Kelly, division president for LGI Homes, which started building in Maricopa in 2012.

LGI made a 10-year commitment to building in Maricopa. The community has been such a “runway of opportunity,” he said, the company could restart the clock and have no problem building in Maricopa into 2026.

The recent mini-boom came as builders simultaneously returned this year to build out neighborhoods where construction had stopped since the recession.

“We’re getting back to a sense of normalcy to what we had before [with the housing market],” said Joel Huston, vice president of sales and marketing for the Phoenix division of KB Home.

Improvements in the housing market mean homebuilders are looking for places to expand, and Maricopa is a desirable place to do so with affordable land and growing customer demand.

“The things that made Maricopa attractive in the first place are still here,” said Martin Scribner, director of development services for the city of Maricopa.

Some of the new growth in homes is already being felt in other parts of the community.

Loraine Conley, principal at Santa Cruz Elementary School in Tortosa, said she tries to meet with new families when they enroll. This year, she’s seen a notable increase in students enrolling at Santa Cruz, relocating from Scottsdale and as far away as Omaha, Nebraska.

“They like the hometown feel Maricopa has,” Conley said.

Amy Zinger (left) and Teri Cifalia on the back patio of new model of KB Home, which is one of the homebuilders that recently renewed focus on Maricopa. Photo by Glynn Thrower
Amy Zinger (left) and Teri Cifalia on the back patio of new model of KB Home, which is one of the homebuilders that recently renewed focus on Maricopa. Photo by Glynn Thrower

Kelly said that is the positive feedback LGI has received about Maricopa, as well. He said unlike other growing areas of the Valley, many Maricopa communities are very well laid out and family oriented.

Local leaders following through on past promises is one of Maricopa’s “best-kept secrets,” Kelly said. Years ago, the council and business leaders had hyped a new city hall complex, an entertainment complex planned by the Ak-Chin and a regional park south of the railroad tracks.

“All of those things happened,” Kelly said. “They showed they weren’t just a bunch of dreamers.”

That got developers and people to come down and look and become aware of what Maricopa had to offer, Kelly said.

Huston said customers’ desire for more affordable housing is largely driving the growth on the peripheries of the Phoenix metro area. Cities like Buckeye, Peoria, Goodyear and Maricopa are places homebuilders are looking.

KB Home surveys housing purchases to gauge what customers are looking for in a home, Huston said.

Many jobs still remain concentrated in the center of the Phoenix area, but consumers are willing to foot the extra gas it costs to commute for a more affordable home, he said.

Kelly credits more governance of home loans for the more controlled way homebuyers calculate their income to buy a house.

“People are going for smaller homes even if they can afford bigger,” Kelly said. “Three bedrooms, two baths is right in our wheelhouse.”

Fred Hermann, Phoenix division president for Meritage Homes, said builders are responding to the desires they’re seeing from customers. “For us, we’re seeing more and more of the market move to affordability,” he said.

As a result, the city of Maricopa’s Planning and Zoning Commission is considering a request to expand the number of lots in a Homestead North development from 290 to 400. That will allow smaller, more affordable homes to be built on the land to be sold quicker, according to Scribner.

When it comes to buying land, Hermann said Maricopa still has much of it available for a relatively low cost.

“In Maricopa, you get more home for the dollars per square foot than you can in most other parts of the Valley,” Hermann said.

Other suburbs that also saw explosive growth during the housing boom of the last decade, such as Chandler, don’t have the space Maricopa has, Scribner said.

“It’s quite possible that the communities that were attractive to developers are running out of space,” Scribner said. “We still have that room for growth.”

Kelly agreed. He said LGI has found a good supply of lots in Maricopa. Even as the company closes out its phase of Homestead it is, he said another Maricopa community is in its sights.

In addition to the availability of affordable land, Maricopa is also seen as an attractive city for the amenities it offers, Huston said.

“Maricopa has been real bright point for builders in general,” he said. “There’s a quality of life in Maricopa that’s greater than it is in most other areas.”

Sales are moving so fast some builders are experiencing a shortage of labor available for construction. Hermann said the time it takes to build his homes in Maricopa is increasing, but they’re still being delivered on time.

Meritage is building homes in the Lakes at Rancho El Dorado and Province. Hermann said the company is also looking to acquire new land to build new communities, including one in Homestead.

The sharp increases in housing permits issued to homebuilders this summer are likely the beginning of a trend toward even more building, Hermann said.

“We’ve got extreme confidence that the increase is going to get even higher,” he said.

Home building permits in Maricopa May 1-July 15
A & J Companies     11
DR Horton                 74
KB Home                   21
LGI                                9
Meritage                    33

Home building permits 2015 v. 2016
May 2015    34
May 2016    57
June 2015    27
June 2016    84
July 2015    40
July 2016    40

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.