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economic development

Riliberto's under construction on John Wayne Parkway. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
John Wayne Parkway Self-Storage under construction.

Maricopa Animal Hospital, being constructed at 20035 N. John Wayne Parkway, received its commercial permit. The 3,998-square-foot structure, being constructed by TWC Design Build, is valued at $1.2 million. It also was permitted for onsite improvements.

PHT Property Holdings is putting in a 4,344-square-foot shell building at 41664 W. Smith-Enke Road. The project, under contractor Anson L. Call Builders, is valued at $586,397. It will include an audiologist’s office, which received a permit for commercial tenant improvement.

Subway, 21116 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite B6, pulled a permit for major electrical work involving the removal of table lights and ceiling fans.

The construction site of the county complex, 19975 N. Wilson Ave., received a permit for temporary power for a state-approved modular.

Meritage Homes is putting in two commercial shade structures at 22870 N. Chase Drive in The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado.

In its continuing effort to transform an area of the Heritage District, the City of Maricopa pulled a demolition permit for a structure at 44491 W. Stagecoach Lane.

New and pending structures received permits for sprinkler systems, including Iconic Tire and Riliberto’s, neighboring businesses at 19945 N. John Wayne Parkway.

Iconic Tire under construction

Richmond American Homes received a temporary use permit for a model home complex on Daniel Drive in The Lakes.

Construction began on Bahama Buck’s on the east end of the Walmart parking lot. Construction continued for John Wayne Self-Storage next to the new AAMCO building on John Wayne Parkway.

This item appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Bahama Buck’s under construction on Porter Road.

When City Manager Rick Horst estimated Maricopa taxpayers would save up to $1.5 million by refinancing its Copper Sky bonds in June, he was a bit short.
The $9.9 million in bonds received over $19 million in orders, the City announced today, resulting in interest savings of $1.8 million in secondary property taxes.
“To get bond upgrades, a bidding war on our bonds, a quick sale with higher than anticipated returns, all during the COVID-19 crisis speaks tremendously to the fact that something special is happening here in Maricopa and the rest of the country is starting to see that,” Horst said.
The City received bond-rating upgrades from three agencies and had interest rates in its favor. The general obligation bonds are paying off the construction of the regional park.
Standard & Poor’s Global raised the City’s bond rating to AA from AA-.
“The raised rating reflects our view of the city’s improved budgetary performance and maintenance of very strong available reserves,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst David Mares.
Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the City of Maricopa general obligation bonds to AA2 from AA3, the second upgrade in less than 10 months.
“The upgrade to AA2 reflects continued material improvement in the city’s tax base, fostered by rapid development and population growth. The city is well positioned to weather the impacts of coronavirus and impending recession, having demonstrated its management strength and financial flexibility through the last recession when reserve levels remained above 70%,” according to the news release published by Moody’s.
Fitch Ratings assigned a AAA rating to the City of Maricopa, their highest score.
The rating “reflects the city’s sound fiscal performance and conservative budget practices, which have maintained a strong degree of financial flexibility,” Fitch shared in its news release regarding the rating.

Exceptional Healthcare Hospital
A sign promoting a new "community hospital" appeared Monday morning at SR 347 and Honeycutt Avenue. Photo by Bob McGovern

When a signboard went up Monday on John Wayne Parkway announcing a “community hospital” coming soon, eyebrows were raised at City Hall.

Exceptional Healthcare posted signs on the northwest corner of State Route 347 and Honeycutt Avenue. The signs quickly became noticed as a collision stopped traffic near the intersection at midday.

Mayor Christian Price said his understanding is the plans are for a surgery center and emergency room. Exceptional Healthcare is based in Texas.

The company did not have a city permit to erect the sign, however. Neither has it submitted paperwork for the pre-application process let alone a building permit.

“We haven’t had any applications,” Community Development Director Nathan Steele said.

He added the City has now had a conversation with the company about the importance of following the process.

Price said he doesn’t think that pending project will interfere with any future plans for a full-service hospital, which is still “in the works.”

For several years, Dignity Health has owned more than 18 acres on the northeast corner of SR 347 and Smith-Enke Road, behind CVS and Freddy’s, but has not announced any plans to develop it.

How have you been shopping since COVID-19?

Transaction privilege tax, often simplified as TPT or sales tax, is an indicator of consumer activity in any given area. Along with other economic meters, it gauges how people are spending their money.

These data have drawn particular interest during COVID-19 and locally have drawn surprise. A rise in unemployment, for instance, did not appear to slow consumerism in Maricopa. While the pandemic forced the closure of non-essential businesses, shoppers found their items at essential businesses. Instead of buying a shirt at a local boutique, shoppers bought clothes at big-box stores.

That shifted who pocketed the money. So, there has not yet been a dramatic fall in overall business this spring. Maricopa’s sales tax collection stayed on the same trend as previous years while maintaining a growth gap over last year.

Maricopa sales tax collections have been on trend despite the pandemic. Data: ADOR

Because of the shift in shopping patterns, however, individual businesses are suffering and in danger of going under.

According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, many businesses are struggling to meet their TPT payment deadlines. Officials are working with them on a case-by-case basis, including applications for a late-payment/late-filing penalty abatement program.

“The Arizona Department of Revenue prioritizes working with customers rather than taking enforcement actions when reasonable as this approach is more beneficial to the taxpayer and efficiently serves state and municipal interests,” the department stated in a news release.

For Pinal County and Maricopa, a continuously strong classification has been contracted construction. It has remained the biggest source of monthly TPT funds.

The fallout of businesses in arrears in rent or who lost clients or loaded up their credit with loans to get by may yet be felt across the community as harshly as it has been felt by individuals.

Sales tax collections usually slide a bit during summer as many families go on vacation and the heat keeps visitors at bay and limits community events. Vacations and travel are not anticipated to be as popular this year. The dramatic increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in June is also expected to impact business and consumerism.

The water tower near the corner of White and Parker Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway was spray painted with a local history mural this week. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A colorful portrait of Maricopa history now sits 60 feet in the air, overlooking the very desert and mountains it depicts.

Graffiti artist Danny Dyster of Laveen was hired to paint the water tower that rises above the northwest corner of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and White and Parker Road. The tower has been on the property since the Phillips family bought it in the 1970s.

Danny Dyster, a graffiti artist from Laveen was hired for the project.

Pam Howerton, daughter of owner Mike Phillips, said she saw Dyster’s work online and asked if he would be interested in painting the tower.

“That’s a graffiti artist’s dream, water towers and billboards, the adrenaline rush of going up there,” Dyster said.

Never mind his fear of heights. It was his first tower.

“I’ve never been that high, besides in an airplane,” he said.

Howerton saw a win-win opportunity as the family ponders leasing the property. “I thought it would be good for both of us,” she said. “He can display his beautiful art, and we can make our property look nicer.”

She sent him a history of Maricopa from the City website and told Dyster to create something from the information. The job was his first trip to Maricopa. He got busy researching.

“The migrant workers are what helped build it. And the train, of course, was a big part of it,” he said. “And the mountain in the background, the cactus and desert scene. They wanted to keep it simple.”

The tower is six stories high.

After a friend primed the tower with black paint, Dyster’s first try included cow skulls, which Pam felt was dark and morbid. He painted over that and tried again.

Dyster, 35, exclusively uses spray paint, preferring a high-end brand from Europe. Along with dealing with a boom lift for the first time, which once stopped functioning with him in midair, he found the constant wind a new challenge. And there was the spider that decided to wrap Dyster’s canvas in webwork.

The project took him about six days, mainly half-days. He said he probably could have finished it in a day if it were on the ground. He is now curious how long the paint will withstand the direct sunlight of the Sonoran Desert.

Spray paint art is his hobby; his full-time job to support his family is as a pharmacy tech at a small mental health hospital in Tempe. A graduate of Cesar Chavez High School, he is mainly self-taught, even briefly participating in the graffiti subculture of train tagging as a teenager.

He tried some graphic design at Phoenix College but did not have the patience for “stick figures.” He even worked as a tattoo artist for 10 years.

“At that time art wasn’t as big as it is now,” he said. “Thank God, it’s getting huge.”

Social media has been the lifeblood of his hobby. While completing the tower project, he posted photos and videos of the progress with the #Maricopa hashtag. That landed him two more projects in town to spray paint back yard walls.

Meanwhile, the Phillips family is debating what to do with the Maricopa property. It was purchased for a venture that never materialized and has been mostly untouched for decades. Howerton said the family sees the water tower as a landmark for their property. The family, she said, has been in business in Arizona for over 60 years, now primarily in transportation and warehousing.

Most recently it has been used as an equipment yard by Nesbitt Contracting, working the Arizona Department of Transportation project of widening Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. The lot is in a flood zone, but that could change.

“We just always liked it here. I loved the mountain,” Howerton said. “It’s just so free and peaceful and beautiful out here. I think my father just loved the beauty out here.”

City Council gathers ideas to put AZCares funds to use

WHAT: Maricopa City Council meeting
WHEN: June 16, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Maricopa City Hall, remotely available at https://www.youtube.com/user/myMaricopa20

When executive orders closed nonessential businesses in Maricopa for 10 weeks to flatten the curve of COVID-19, the pain was felt quickly by small business owners.

They took a hit in rent, payroll, inventory and utility costs with minimal, if any, revenue  coming in. Those who relied on spring business to help them through the slow summer months were left with little to lean on.

For those deciding how to spend nearly $6 million in CARES Act money coming to Maricopa through the AZCares program, the plight of small businesses is a major focus. The same is true of the community’s nonprofits, as many saw a serious decline in contributions or were called on to overextend themselves to meet community needs.

Christian Price

Maricopa City Council received suggestions from 30 individuals and will discuss the ideas at an upcoming meeting.

“I am grateful that they echoed much of what I am leaning toward: a balance between our businesses and nonprofits in need,” Mayor Christian Price said. “But there is much more to it than that, so our staff is also analyzing some recommendations to be brought forth, that will help clarify and even broaden the categories of possibilities on who we can help.”

About a third of the submissions came from individuals asking the council to use the funds to support the Be Awesome Youth Coalition. There were also pleas to help local food banks, the Boys & Girls Club, STEAM education and other nonprofit organizations.

“The majority suggested small businesses and non-profits, which aligns well with my desires,” Vice Mayor Nancy Smith said. “Two suggestions were related to building affordable small business rental space, and one suggestion dealt with a medical facility. Those are great suggestions.”

Nancy Smith

Smith, who is running for re-election this year, said the City’s ongoing plans at Estrella Gin can help create small-business rentals.

The businesses who shared their plight with the council were a sampling of the impact COVID-19 had in Maricopa. That included a nail-salon owner staring at three months’ worth of rent, a catering company that lost at least 10 major events this spring while potential clients remain uncertain about planning future events, and a clothing boutique that had just opened its doors in February when nonessential stores were shuttered.

Councilwoman Julia Gusse, also up for election, said Maricopa should look ahead and take care of its own.

Julia Gusse (submitted photo)

“In my opinion, these funds will best be used to prepare us for what the future may hold,” Gusse said. “Being proactive rather than reactive and taking care of our own. All the public ideas should be taken into consideration, and I can see fulfilling many of these; food bank, small businesses, families, veterans and children affected by COVID…taking care of our own.”

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi outlined the specific spending he would like to see. That includes $1 million for a grant program for local small businesses and charities impacted by the COVID-19 closures, up to $3 million on infrastructure improvements “to help entice economic development and job growth,” up to $400,000 for food banks, and other funds for reimbursing COVID-related expenses, with the rest going into the City’s emergency contingency fund.

Vincent Manfredi
Vincent Manfredi

“I think economic development is what will drive our recovery,” Manfredi said.

The four outsiders challenging for the three seats available on council are also looking closely at the decisions that loom over City leaders.

Bob Marsh said he wants the City to use the funds exactly as outlined in the U.S. Treasury guidelines: medical expenses, including COVID-19 testing; public health expenses, including personal protection equipment; payroll expenses for employees dedicated to the emergency; expenses incurred by compliance with executive orders, including distance learning and working remotely; and economic support to small businesses, including grants.

Bob Marsh. Photo by Kyle Norby

“I think the coverages that will have the most positive impact in Maricopa are covering the costs of COVID-19 testing and providing economic support to small businesses,” Marsh said.

Linette Caroselli’s priority list includes helping small businesses get back on their feet, creating a utilities relief fund for residents, and funding programming for youth programs and resources, including help with online learning.

Linette Caroselli

“I would also like to see a significant donation to the food bank, funding to cover the cost of testing, public safety and public health employees,” Caroselli said. “In addition, donations to the homeless and women’s shelters in our community would also prove to be beneficial.”

Andre LaFond said the majority of the AZCares funds should go toward the construction of a “town center” area for affordable storefront space and low-interest business loans.

Andre LaFond (submitted photo)

“The cost of business space is higher in Maricopa than Scottsdale,” he said. “This prevents small businesses from easily moving from home-based to commercial space opportunities. The tax revenue along with the economic growth would be a great benefit to our city.”

Amber Liermann reiterated goals of the city council’s Strategic Plan, saying the council needs to keep those predetermined goals in mind.

Amber Liermann. Photo by Kyle Norby

“Protecting ‘quality growth and development’ and ‘economic development’ would continue to be my top two priorities,” she said. “The application process will be important to clearly identify specific needs in our community. Special consideration may be appropriate for healthcare providers including first responders.”

A former councilmember and vice mayor also shared her insight with the current council among the public submissions. Peggy Chapados said her top suggestions were recognizing “front-line” workers, helping businesses most impacted by COVID-19 and supporting nonprofits who provide food and aid.

She also suggested creating a process like the now-defunct Non-Profit Funding Initiative that would identify priorities with objective criteria.

“I know how we do everyday things will change, maybe a little, maybe a lot, and I also know first-hand what Maricopans are capable of, especially when we work together,” Chapados said.

Chopping up $5.98 million among the most deserving while COVID-19 is still impacting daily life in Maricopa is an illuminating challenge. It not only is about identifying those entities that should be entitled to funds but also creating the system for applying for them. That is something the council wants in place quickly.

“Hopefully, we will have some agreed-upon parameters to evaluate by this next council meeting so we can start getting this money into the hands of those who need it most,” Price said.

Vincent Manfredi is minority owner of InMaricopa.


James B. Smith (submitted photo)
After a nationwide search, the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) announced the hiring of James B. Smith, Ph.D., as vice president of business development.
Smith will be responsible for developing and executing business recruitment initiatives for MEDA on behalf of the City of Maricopa. He has 25 years of progressively successful leadership, and economic and community development experience, with non-profit organizations and private-public partnerships.
“We are delighted to have recruited someone of James’ caliber to help propel MEDA in its newly expanded role,” said John Schurz, MEDA chairman and CEO. “His track record in building organizations, communities and economies will greatly advance MEDA’s ability to fulfill and exceed its mandate as Maricopa’s official outwardly facing economic development organization.”
Smith was the first vice president of corporate relations for the Economic Development Alliance of Baltimore, a private-public partnership representing Baltimore City and its five surrounding counties. In that capacity, he developed and executed first-ever business attraction initiatives that supported the recruitment of 10 firms, combining for $5.6 billion in private capital investment and creating more than 5,000 new direct jobs.
From there, Smith was appointed as the senior administrator at the Baltimore Community Foundation to bridge the gap between community and economic development for the Greater Baltimore region. In that position, he devised and monitored a regional civic agenda to position Greater Baltimore as a place where civic and community development initiatives aligned with the region’s economic development agenda to ensure that opportunities were created for all residents of the region.
Most recently, Smith served as the president and CEO of Healthy Teen Network, a national enterprise that focuses on addressing the sexual health education needs of teens and adolescents who are parenting and/or pregnant, currently who are in systems of care, and those who identify as LGBTQIA+.
“James brings a unique combination of economic and community development skills to MEDA and Maricopa,” said Rick Horst, Maricopa city manager, on Smith’s appointment. “We are excited about this next step in building and executing stronger and more consistent engagement with external markets and market actors.”
Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, a master’s in public administration and a doctorate in public policy and administration. Passionate about issues facing America’s communities, Smith serves or has served on several boards of directors of community organizations. He also is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the nation’s oldest collegiate fraternity of African American males.

Three bond-rating companies upgraded Maricopa's Copper Sky bond.

The taxpayers of Maricopa are paying off Copper Sky Regional Park, and City Hall is trying to get a better interest rate.

Monday, the City is taking $10.15 million of its general obligation bond into the market for refinancing. The odds are in its favor, as three bond-rating companies upgraded Maricopa’s bond in late May.

The City had been warned by all three companies – Standard & Poor, Moody’s and Fitch – that the market was tenuous because of COVID-19 and other economic factors. Tuesday, City Manager Rick Horst told the city council he had been told to expect to stay at the same rating or even drop, but the bond rating was in fact upgraded by all three.

“Moody’s took us from AA3 to AA2. There’s only one step higher, which is AA1,” Horst said. “Fitch rated us for the first time ever AAA, the highest rating that they can give. Standard & Poor rated us as AA, with AA+ being the highest standard.”

He said the strong bond ratings give the City a better chance for a lower interest rate on the bond. He said it could save taxpayers as much as $1.5 million.

Fitch, in giving the bond a AAA rating, also gave the City itself an AA issuer default rating, which the company defines as “Very high credit quality.”

“The city’s long-term liability burden, comprised of overall debt and net pension liabilities, is low at 6% of total personal income,” the company reported. “Fitch expects the long-term liability burden to remain low based on a lack of direct debt plans and the city’s ongoing commitment to accelerate pay-off of its unfunded liabilities related to public safety pensions.”

Fitch also pointed out the City’s revenues grew in excess of the U.S. GDP for the 10 years ending in fiscal year 2019.

Moody’s reported its upgrade of Maricopa’s bond was influenced by rapid development and population growth.

“It further reflects long-term strength and stability of the city’s financial position, bolstered by the city’s differences from a typical Arizona city, including a less volatile revenue mix and below-average pension and OPEB liabilities and costs,” Moody’s reported. OPEB stands for other post-employment benefits.

It described Maricopa as “well positioned to weather the impacts of coronavirus and impending recession, having demonstrated its management strength and financial flexibility through the last recession when reserve levels remained above 70%. While like all cities in Arizona, there is some reliance on sales tax, it is less elevated than most and is supported by the application of sales tax to essentials like groceries.”

S&P had previously rated Maricopa’s bond as A- before the May upgrade.

“The raised rating reflects our view of the City’s improved budgetary performance and maintenance of very strong available reserves,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst David Mares. “Despite the improvement, however, we believe management will continue to wrestle with challenges to align its revenue and expenditures, particularly given the financial uncertainty in fiscal 2020 posed by the pandemic and looming state reductions to intergovernmental revenue.”

That was a warning all three bond-rating companies attached to their ratings report, each saying COVID-19 could alter the bond ratings if the City’s economy takes a hit in the future.

After the issuance of the bond, Maricopa will have $35.5 million in outstanding general obligation bonds.

Essential and nonessential businesses had to change the way they communicated with customers and employees.

I think that’s awesome, I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s long overdue.”

With the county and the state posting record-high unemployment but local consumerism showing signs of recovery, the complex impact of COVID-19 on the future economy is just beginning to get sorted.

Business leaders are looking beyond the coronavirus for a silver lining to come out of the discombobulation.

“I think that industrial growth, commercial growth and even residential growth is going to be strong for Pinal County coming out of this, and we need to be ready for it,” Global Water Resources CEO Ron Fleming told a virtual panel for Pinal Partnership.

Fleming said Arizona and Pinal County may be the beneficiaries as businesses and countries re-examine supply chains and locations.

“They line up really well for what Arizona and Pinal County can offer,” he said. “What we’re doing as a company, just building on what we’ve obviously been doing the last 15-20 years in Pinal County, is being ready for that.”

For the moment, Pinal County’s unemployment rate is 12.3%, a year-over-year increase of 150%.

At the same time, the county’s single-family home building permits, which had been up in March 92% compared to a year earlier, tumbled in April, 85% down year over year.

Not all businesses felt a dramatic downturn, especially those businesses considered essential. Jim Garrett, owner of Garrett Motors in Coolidge, told the panel business was “down a little bit” in March and April but overall has remained good.

That was true of essential and some nonessential businesses in Maricopa, where the collection of sales tax in March and April showed busy shoppers. Restaurants, which were not allowed to have dine-in options, took a hit in March but showed dramatic recovery in April. Retail and contracting held steady in March and rose to robust numbers in April.

Remote sales, such as from Amazon, did not show a dramatic rise, while local grocery sales reached their second-highest peak in the last two years.
Overall, compared to last April, the Maricopa marketplace took in 25% more in sales tax even as residents were going on unemployment for the first time.

Staying linked in with potential customers facing an uncertain economic future required some entrepreneurship on the part of Pinal businesses.
Garrett said his company took advantage of the opportunity to become even more engaged online. They also offered “touch-free” service, picking up and dropping off vehicles, and “you would never see us.”

Jackie Elliott, president of Central Arizona College, also said it was a moment of innovation and opportunity. As was the case with several secondary schools, the community college was just going into spring break when shutdowns were announced. The administration quickly put together a plan to teach its courses on a virtual platform for the rest of the semester.

“We chose very conscientiously to use the word ‘virtual’ instead of ‘online,’ because when you talk about learning and students and how students learn, ‘online’ is asynchronous,” she said. “And we wanted things that were synchronous, that flowed and allowed students to interact.”

The college put in place a crisis communication plan and tried to stay aware of stress levels with the staff, which included faculty teaching their courses virtually while also teaching their own children at home. CAC also allowed employees to cash out up to 40 hours of vacation time.

Going forward, Elliott said, CAC expects every course and program that is available face to face also will be available in a virtual form.

“I think that’s awesome,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s long overdue.”

Elliott said she had been reading about Winston Churchill during the pandemic and found some spot-on leadership guidance: “Be present all the time.”

Garrett said he and his family also lived by that philosophy, being on site as much for the other employees as for the customers.

Fleming said the best way to build morale was to be present in the community. Besides expanding its low-income relief tariff and stopping all disconnects and late fees, Global Water donated to local food banks. He said having employees involved in carrying out those programs also boosted morale.

When the company reached 1,000 days without an OSHA-related incident, they celebrated by sending all employees gift baskets and gift cards. Also an essential business, Global took early steps to mitigate the chances of spreading COVID-19.

Global Water eliminated group meetings and closed its walk-in customer service desks. Those who could work from home did so. Operations personnel used their company vehicles as their mobile offices.

It all may have changed the future of the call center. Under normal circumstances, it is composed of cubicles close together. For the duration, Global supplied those employees with laptops and moved them home.

“And our call center metrics have improved,” Fleming said.

From left, Amanda, Sydnie Lovlin, Jessica Matelski, Franci Rohde, Sarah Woods Cuneo, Kelly Larson, Sylvia Shidemantle, Mandi Larca, Merle Gaskins, Ashlynn Tonkin, and Angela. Photos by Kyle Norby

Staff, family, and friends of the Maricopa Animal Hospital gathered Thursday for the official groundbreaking ceremony of a new facility next to Maricopa Self Storage on John Wayne Parkway.

The veterinary clinic has been serving the Maricopa community since Dr. Kelly Larson first opened its doors in 2007. Located off of North John Wayne Parkway and West Hathaway Avenue, the current clinic is 1,200 square feet with a cramped waiting room occupied by the service desk.

The new, 4,000 square-foot building will expand the waiting room as well as provide bigger exam rooms for veterinary technicians and more parking. The move, expected in the fall, is expected to be quick with the new building located across the street.

The new, 4,000 square-foot building will expand the waiting room as well as exam rooms.

“We started out very small, just a couple days a week and gradually we’ve grown in the community,” Larson said. “This is more for our clients than for us to be able to provide a nice, new building with some space. We are very excited.”

Once the building permit is acquired, construction will be done by local subcontractors with a finish date expected within six to seven months, according to Keith Nelson, president of TerWisscha Construction Inc. of Willmar, Minn.

“We’re one of the only companies that do design and construction (of veterinary hospitals) in the United States,” Nelson said. “One of the biggest things most doctors do in their life is getting to do a project such as this, so we’ve got to celebrate it!”

Longtime Animal Hospital clients Dennis and Linda Shurtz expressed their good wishes during the ceremony and shared stories from over the years with Larson and Sylvia Shidemantle, practice manager. The Shurtzes, who have brought their pets to the clinic for 10 years, said they have appreciated the great care and customer service.

“They need the room, so this has just been so exciting. People are talking about it,” Dennis said.

Shidemantle said none of this growth would be possible without the loyal clients that have come to the clinic over the years. She said she appreciated their patience with the limited space at the current location, which will converted into a pet boarding facility.

“It’s time for space!” she said. “Maricopa is just growing so much and we are so busy in the current building. It’s time to expand so we can offer more to our clients.”

Staff, family, and friends of the Maricopa Animal Hospital


A stretch of land between and west of Culver's and Dutch Bros. is under development. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

While much commercial construction has continued throughout Maricopa this spring, Sonoran Creek Marketplace remains an empty field.

The planned shopping plaza, anchored by a “specialty grocer” and a “major retailer,” is planned for the large lot on the southwest corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road just west of Culver’s and Dutch Bros. Though those anchors are still not officially named, the complex is to be 85,000 square feet of retail space.

In his presentation to city council last week, City Manager Rick Horst said the expectation is 282 new jobs and a payroll over $10.4 million. The development is completing paperwork for engineering and building permits.

Elevation drawing by SPS Architects

Advancement of the project had been expected to happen more rapidly, but a corporate management change for one of the anchors occurred in the middle of planning.

“They did ask for a 90-day extension, which was granted,” Horst said, “but they are moving forward. The extension was less about COVID and more about changes with the major retailer who’s coming on site with a new CEO.”

Sonoran Creek has an expected opening date in 2021.

As part of the development process, the City requests “will service” notifications from local utilities for new construction or remodels to guarantee water and electricity.

Maricopa Consolidated Domestic Water Improvement District completed flow tests for the property to prove fire protection ability. In Maricopa development, water utility responsibilities are split between Global Water, which supplies most of the city, and MCDWID, which serves many homes and businesses in the Heritage District.

Global Water supplies sewer service but not water to several Heritage District properties, like Culver’s, Fast & Friendly Car Wash and Dutch Bros., according to General Manager Jon Corwin.

Engineer William Collings of DNA Inc., which does civil engineering for MCDWID, said the small water district had “good to excellent water pressure” and sufficient capacity for the planned pads on the site as well as a multi-story building that could go in west of Sonoran Creek along Wilson Avenue.

“We’ve had no issue with water quality in 20 years,” Collings said.

MCDWID is also supplying the water for Maricopa Town Plaza, where Iconic Tires, Riliberto’s and an animal hospital are being constructed southeast of John Wayne Parkway and Hathaway Avenue. Global Water, on the other hand, provides water and sewer to Edison Place (the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road) and Madison Pointe (between Edison Pointe and Maricopa Self Storage).

“This is a confusing area,” Corwin said.

New housing is going up all over Maricopa. Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

A lot of dirt is moving, and it’s to Maricopa’s credit.

The city is set up for 60,000 homes, with 22,000 currently built. Building permits and home construction are obvious in many subdivisions.

With residential combined with ongoing and upcoming commercial construction, Maricopa has remained lively during a difficult economic moment. A presentation aimed for three credit-rating agencies was part of City Manager Rick Horst’s report to council this week and highlighted the amount of development going on in the city.

In October, Moody’s Investors Services upgraded the City of Maricopa from an A1 rating to an AA3 rating. That applied to $27.5 million of its outstanding $37.5 million in general obligation bonds. The credit ratings are an important part of the City’s work to re-fund the bond at a lower tax rate.

The City has an AA- rating from Standard & Poor’s, which called the City’s credit outlook “stable” in its June review. Horst said he is confident the City can earn the highest AAA rating from Fitch Ratings.

Moody’s rating reflected “material improvement in the City’s tax base,” according to its report, “fostered by rapid development and population growth. It further reflects growth in the city’s financial operation while maintaining unusually strong reserves and liquidity.”

The City’s debt level as it continues to pay off the addition of Copper Sky is considered “average and declining.” In fact, while calling Maricopa’s debt level about average nationally, Moody’s pointed out it was low compared to other Arizona municipalities.

All credit-rating agencies look at the same data in assigning ratings.

The residential and commercial activity is showcased to show a rising tide in Maricopa.

“We are reaping the benefits of years of work,” Councilmember Henry Wade said. “It’s been a hard slog. Everyone has to stay the course and don’t sit on the sidelines.”

Santa Rosa Springs


Several partially built subdivisions are coming back to life.

Among the biggest, Rancho Mirage Estates, which has 568 homes built, is moving forward on 1,568 additional lots, according to the manager’s report.

Nearby, Tortosa, which has built 1,175 homes, will total 2,462 when built out.

The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado, which has fewer than half its plots built, is looking to fill in its housing sites. It has 950 lots to build before hitting capacity of 1,608 and is finishing the circle of Powers Parkway, which had been dead-ended for years.

Santa Rosa Crossings has come back on the map east of Desert Cedars. Horst reminded council it had been “sitting dormant for over a decade.” A developer is now replacing infrastructure in preparation for 720 homes where there are currently none.

The report also showed Homestead working on building 324 more homes and Santa Rosa Springs with 168 more. Not mentioned in the report was the ongoing construction in Glennwilde, Palo Brea, Sorrento and Alterra. The City, Horst said, has been averaging almost 1,000 single-family home construction permits per year.

Additional housing is coming in the form of apartments and senior living complexes. Oasis at the Wells is expected to be completed this year, and the Bungalows on Bowlin are planned to open in 2021.

Copper Sky Commercial is to include 256 apartments and assisted living units, and Copper Sky Commercial South has plans for 256 apartments. Both have completion goals of 2022. The senior housing at Seasons Living at Copper Sky is to include 146 units and expects to be complete in 2021.

A+ Charter Schools


Several businesses are expected to open this year. That includes the second Walgreens, which is at The Wells and set to open almost any day. Next to it is a new retail building that has a dental office as one of its tenants and is expected to open soon.

Maricopa Town Plaza boasts Iconic Tires and a two-tenant shell building that will include a Riliberto’s Mexican Restaurant. Both are expected to open this year. Another building on the lot is to be Maricopa Animal Hospital, set to open in 2021.

AAMCO is nearing its opening date in a complex expected to be complete next year. It also includes John Wayne Self-Storage.

A+ Charter Schools, a new high school, is going up quickly on Alan Stephens Parkway. It is 25,000 square feet on seven acres and pushing to open in time for the new school year in July.

Back at The Wells next to Walmart, Bahama Buck’s has a likely opening date in early 2021. “They’re getting ready to start their construction,” Horst said.

Also estimated completion dates in 2021 are Omni Self Storage, MC Estates, Sonoran Creek Marketplace and the second location of Fast & Friendly Car Wash. There is also a new office complex going up next to the current library.

“It’s a very attractive building that will house an audiology office in it, among other things that we are not aware of at the moment,” Horst said.

A Walgreens near Big 5 is being prepped for opening this year.


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.

Santa Rosa Crossings has been fenced off for five years.

Owners of the once-defunct Santa Rosa Crossings, G4 RRJK International LLLP, received re-approval for Phases I and II at the previously platted subdivision next to Desert Cedars on Bowlin Road. They also received a haul permit at 43853 W. Cypress Lane. The housing development had been partially built when it became a victim of the economic downturn a decade ago. G4 RRJK purchased it in 2012, and the existing structures were bulldozed in 2015.

Gehan Homes of Arizona, preparing to offer new construction in Homestead east of Continental Boulevard, is setting up shop at 40156 W. Crane Drive, where it has a permit for a flagpole.

Wade Jurney Homes also plans to fill in empty lots in Alterra South with new construction. In February, the company received construction permits for nine lots.

Molly’s House of Little Feet is setting up childcare at 16540 N. Porter Road in an existing building that has housed a few businesses over the years. Owner KDJJ Enterprises received a minor development review permit as well as a temporary sign permit for the property.

The re-established Walgreens building at 41840 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy. and its neighboring building, Pacific Dental, have installed fire sprinklers as a step closer to completion.

City of Maricopa received a commercial permit for construction of a new library south of City Hall at 18160 N. Maya Angelou Drive near the intersection of Bowlin Road and White and Parker Road. Ground was broken on the project March 14. The library is to be 27,000 square feet.

Diamond Communications received a permit to take out a wooden fence and install a wrought-iron fence at 45330 W. McDavid Road.

A Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses is to be built at 40675 W. Honeycutt Road. Currently, the closest congregations are in Casa Grande.

Electing not to travel due to coronavirus concerns, The Englewood Group opted out of ceremonial groundbreaking in March on Oasis at the Wells, 41535 N. Shea Way, and Horizon at the Wells, 41475 W. Shea Way, but the projects will go forward. Mountain Trace Development is building the city’s first multi-family housing at the site, which is just off Porter Road. The properties received “at risk” grading and drainage permits, meaning late in the permitting process. When complete, the project will include one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units on the property behind Walmart.

Three businesses — Maricopa Village, 45873 W. Highway 238, Iconic Tire, 19945 N. John Wayne Parkway, and Leading Edge Academy, 18700 N. Porter Road — all had hydrant flow tests at their construction sites.

Maricopa City hall
Maricopa City Hall

In an indication City Hall is closing, the City of Maricopa introduced curbside service in a website announcement today.

“City Hall may be closing to the public, but that does not prevent our committed staff from serving you,” the City posted to its site. The curbside service is set to start Monday.

City spokesperson Ellen Buddington confirmed the decision. “City Hall’s physical doors will close to the public but we will be open for curbside service only starting Monday, March 23 during normal City Hall hours of operation. Most City business will continue via utilizing multiple electronic formats/media as well.”

While many services are already available online, those who need to come to City Hall are asked to pull up at the front entrance and call 520-568-9098 for service. Those services will be available during City Hall’s regular business hours, Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

At the same time, City Manager Rick Horst posted a letter to the community. “While our physical doors may close, our virtual doors will open. While exercising sound virus containment practices, we remain ready, willing and able. We know there are varying opinions regarding what should and should not be done. We seek to balance the reality of the situation with the reality of human need.”

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The blue line shows the growth in sales in Maricopa this fiscal year compared to 2018-19.


Collections of transaction privilege tax (sales tax) in Maricopa in December showed the growth in business since a year ago, according to the Arizona Department of Revenue.

Overall, collections were 29% higher in December 2019 than they were in December 2018. For January, collections soared close to $2 million as construction and retail took off again.

Construction brought in the most sales tax during December, a total of $444,361, which is up 14.7% from a year ago. In January, the collection from construction was up another 24% over December.

A year-to-year change that started in November’s numbers was the addition of the state’s collection of transaction privilege tax from remote sales such as Amazon. From November through January, that has brought in an additional $172,764 in sales tax from Maricopa shoppers.

Retail sales were up 11.6% year-to-year in December and gained another 45% in January. Sales tax collections from bars and restaurants were up 24.45%.

Tax collections from grocery sales were up 17% from December to December and then another 47% from December through January.

This item appears in part in the March issue of InMaricopa.com.

Bungalows on Bowlin, planned near the northwest corner of John Wayne Parkway and Bowlin Road, includes single-family and multifamily units.

Bungalows and “man caves” are scheduled to go before Maricopa Planning & Zoning Committee on Monday.

A housing developer seeks to create single-family and multi-family housing units on 17 empty acres near Maricopa Elementary School that are zoned commercial. At the same time, a local commercial developer wants to put in RV garage storage units and a clubhouse on a property off Farrell Road that is currently zoned residential.

The P&Z Committee has public hearings for both projects on its March 9 agenda.

The Bungalows on Bowlin plan is for 196 housing units near the northwest corner of John Wayne Parkway and Bowlin Road. The property is zoned commercial and has not been rezoned since Maricopa became a municipality, according to city staff analysis.

The housing units include single-family detached homes and “duplex gated residential community with one-story rental homes designed in a cluster configuration on a single lot.” It would include one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

The Bungalows on Bowlin property is part of an undeveloped, 30-acre lot in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Zone X, which means moderate flood hazard. Attached to the project proposal is information from a recent drainage study showing only one small area would actually be in a FEMA floodplain. It is anticipated the project will require a floodplain use permit.

Owners of are asking for a General Plan amendment, a zoning map amendment and a major development review.

Planned elevation of a clubhouse at MC Estates on Farrell Road.

Also on Monday’s P&Z agenda is a project called MC Estates for “high-end condominium recreation vehicle storage.” That property is on four acres at 42326 W. Farrell Road.

According to the architect’s narrative, each unit will be a “man cave” with a roll-up garage door and a “man door.” The intention is to create a space to store an RV out of the sun and “a gathering place of relaxation and the company of fellow RV’ers.”

MC Estates plans to include a small clubhouse on the property. All buildings will be a maximum of 30 feet tall. Four of the large condos will have rooftop access. The plan includes 32 units in a 54,395-square-foot building.

The property is described as abandoned residential.

The owner is asking for a General Plan amendment, a zoning map amendment and a major development review.

The Planning & Zoning Committee meets at 6 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.

MC Estates (in red) is currently zoned residential.

Agave's Restaurant re-opened as the last stage of the expansion of Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino. Submitted photo

Agave’s Restaurant reopened after a four-month renovation, marking the final chapter of the expansion of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Resort and Casino. The interior and menu were updated for the restaurant, which seats 118 inside and poolside.

The future Roots Eatery is transforming the former pizza shop of Dominos at 20046 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 104, as it transforms itself from a home-based business of catering and cooking classes into a restaurant.

Iconic Tire & Service Center has a commercial permit to build a 6,277-square foot facility at 19945 N. John Wayne Parkway. The same development, the city’s Planning and Zoning Department has the plans for Maricopa Animal Hospital, a 4,000-square-foot structure on the south side of Maricopa Self Storage.

Pinal County broke ground on a new court administration complex at 20025 N. Wilson Ave. Jan 17. It will include improved court facilities, sheriff’s office facilities and satellite offices for clerk of Superior Court, assessor, recorder, supervisor’s office and more.

North of Maricopa Self Storage, an AAMCO is under construction. That development also has plans for John Wayne Parkway Self Storage under way.

Bahama Buck’s, a shaved-ice eatery, has a development review permit at 17452 N. Porter Road, where the city replatted to accommodate the business needs.

Leading Edge Academy received a commercial permit for a planned 5,000-square-foot charter high school at 18700 N. Porter Road.

Central Arizona College is expanding its driveway and firelane at its campus at 17945 N. Regent Drive.

Global Water Resources installed new waterline liner along Honeycutt Road east of White and Parker Road to decrease the likelihood of line breaks.

My Home Group real estate office officially opened Jan. 25 at 20046 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 106.

This item appears in the February issue of InMaricopa.

A sample vision of a "Maricopa Station" from the strategic plan.

When the folks at City Hall talk about Heritage District redevelopment, they are not just talking about changing street names.

The ideas for the area between Honeycutt Road to the north and the Amtrak station to the south are very big, even revolutionary for an area known for long-standing family homes. Lately, it has been the site of City cleanups and demolitions. The City would like to see an “old town Maricopa” concept arise in a community that has never had a distinct downtown.

The vision: A=Amtrak station; B=bus stop; C=car-share station; D=connected bike network; E=neighborhood pedestrian connection. Parking: 01=train station parking; 02=train station west; 03=water tower lot; 04=Honeycutt lot; 05=on-street parking

Tuesday, the city council approved changing the names of the streets in the neighborhood, with one late change-of-a-change in the mix. After the 911-address paperwork is updated, Pershing Street will be Main Street, Burkett Avenue will be Stagecoach Lane, Maricopa Avenue will be Heritage Lane and a section of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway between Plainview Street and the curve to Maricopa Road will be called Mercado Street.

Rodolfo Lopez, deputy director of the Economic and Community Development Department, said the purpose is to “somewhat rebrand” the Maricopa Townsite subdivision to “create a sense of place.”

A neighborhood open house was held in November followed by a meeting of the Heritage District Committee in December to work out the new street names.

The plan had been to change slightly Arizona Avenue, a road between Plainview and Burkett, to Arizona Lane. However, Councilwoman Julia Gusse wanted one of the roads to reflect the “predominantly Latino” heritage of the area. Because naming streets after some local families might cause conflict within the neighborhood, she suggested instead changing the name of Arizona Avenue to Cesar Chavez Lane for the revered, Arizona-born labor leader.

City Manager Rick Horst affirmed he discussed the issue with Gusse earlier and took it back to city staff, which agreed with the change. The council also agreed.

The new street names come atop a redevelopment vision that would turn the area into a pedestrian-friendly marketplace, hence the street name of Mercado. Lopez said that was also homage to a former mercantile store that existed until 2007.

Early concepts from the strategic plan.

This month, during a strategic planning session, the council looked at ideas for a “Maricopa Station” that could include revamping the Amtrak station and adding areas for retail, restaurants and parking as well as an event plaza for gatherings and concerts. The idea is to have the new Main Street feed directly into a plaza south of the new Mercado Street.

(Maricopa has an existing commercial area known as Maricopa Station northeast of the John Wayne Parkway/Smith-Enke intersection that includes eateries from Freddy’s to Chipotle.)

A Horst caveat in the strategic plan was that the City’s role in the Heritage District redevelopment should be as a facilitator, not a driver. So, lining up commercial developers to buy into the vision is a priority.

As creative place-making, the redevelopment of the Heritage District is part of the city manager’s Wildly Imaginative Goals (WIGs).

A similar “economic development enhancement project” is a vision to revitalize the old section of Maricopa just south of the railroad tracks and along the shoulders of the overpass. The plan, called South Bridge, includes retail and green space.

The possibility of the City of Maricopa acquiring commercial land from a developer and a $435,000 contract for economic development services are on Tuesday’s city council agenda.

Thompson Thrift Development, planning the Sonoran Creek Marketplace on John Wayne Parkway next to Culver’s and Dutch Bros, developed an agreement with the City of Maricopa that would sell 4.22 acres of the 20-acre lot to the City for “future commercial development.”

Those acres are known as Lot 3 and are on the west side of the development. The purchase agreement requires the City to purchase Lot 3 and a bordering drainage area for $4 per square foot, equaling more than $735,000.

The Development Incentive Agreement would require Thompson Thrift to begin construction of Sonoran Creek by March 30, 2021, and open by Nov. 30 of the same year. For its part, the City would waive development fees. City officials have not publicly described what use is planned for Lot 3.

Sonoran Creek is expected to be anchored by a grocery that has not been officially named in public. It is one of several developments in the Heritage District.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is Maricopa Economic Development Alliance.

Shortly after creating an Economic & Community Development Department, the City of Maricopa introduced an agreement with MEDA “to provide economic development services for the City.”

The contract has MEDA, a nonprofit, working as an independent contractor. The contract fee is $435,000 for a fiscal year. The contract is for five years.

MEDA is an alliance of business, government and education leaders. The current board of directors consists of Chairman John Shurz, president of Orbitel Communications, El Dorado Holdings President James Kenny, Electrical District 3 Director Brett Benedict, City Councilmember Marvin Brown, Global Water CEO Ron Fleming, Great Western Bank Group President Mike Adams, City Manager Rick Horst, Banner Health Senior Planner Ryan Hutchinson, Pinal County Economic Development Director Tim Kanavel, Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman Robert Miguel, Mayor Christian Price, Maricopa Ace Hardware owner Mike Richey, UltraStar Multi-tainment Center General Manager Adam Saks and Southwest Gas District Manager Daniel J. Wolf.

The meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers, also has items on development impact fees and the city’s investment practices.

Mike Adams, Great Western Bank

Mike Adams, group president of Great Western Bank, has joined the board of directors of Maricopa Economic Development Alliance.

Adams is a 38-year banking professional managing offices in Maricopa, Casa Grande, Tucson, Eloy, Coolidge and Globe. He manages commercial bankers focusing on commercial, industrial, manufacturing, agricultural, real estate construction (owner-occupied, investment and subdivision) lending and deposit activities throughout the state.

MEDA is the City of Maricopa’s private-public partnership for economic development. As a 501(c)3 corporation, the organization champions strategies and solutions that foster economic growth and prosperity in Maricopa by bringing together the business, government, education and civic sectors to identify and advance policies that facilitate investment, growth and workforce development.

A Tucson resident, Adams is a native of California and a graduate of University of Oregon.

Great Western Bank has been in Pinal County since 1999 when the bank’s predecessor, Casa Grande Valley, opened the first bank in Maricopa. The bank has operated under the Great Western name since 2007.

“Our business philosophy has always been to support the communities where we do business,” Adams said. “Our local bankers are committed to the City of Maricopa and the ongoing successes of its businesses and residents. I’m happy to join other business leaders on the MEDA board as we continue to advance the City’s economic development initiatives.”

MEDA’s board is comprised of the leading executives of Maricopa’s major business sectors, representing expertise and experience in utilities, finance, development, health care and infrastructure development. Equally important are the elected officials and public sector executives who bring the essential representation of the City of Maricopa’s City Council, City Management and Economic Development functions.

“Great Western Bank was the first commercial bank to open a branch in Maricopa and has a long and distinguished history in our city,” Mayor Christian Price said. “Mike and his team have been an active part of Maricopa’s growth, and we’re glad to have his expertise on the board of directors.”

The Maricopa-MEDA partnership is an important component of the city’s economic vitality and sustainability. Through the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance, the City of Maricopa and business and education leaders join forces to identify and support promising economic development opportunities for the City of Maricopa.

“The private sector plays an important role in fulfilling MEDA’s mission to seek out opportunities that benefit our community,” said John Schurz, MEDA’s board chair. “As a banker who is committed to helping businesses grow and prosper, Mike brings vitally important commercial finance prowess to the MEDA board and we are delighted he is joining us.”



Planning and Zoning Chair Linda Huggins pushed city staff on a series of issues with the Oasis proposal. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission grilled city staff and the developer of the first apartment complex planned for the community at its Tuesday meeting.

The commission, being asked to recommend approval of the site plan, landscape, photometric and elevations for The Oasis at the Wells, ultimately tabled the project until some points of dispute could be clarified. Development Services Director Kazi Haque sparred with Chair Linda Huggins over demanding more of the developer than city code required, but it was parking that drew the most scrutiny from the panel.

Planning and Zoning Manager Rodolfo Lopez fields questions from the commission. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The developer, the Englewood Group, asked to reduce the required number of parking spaces for the complex from 263 to 180. Planning and Zoning Manager Rodolfo Lopez said the city code came through a third party during the recession when most parking lots were seeing a mixture of uses, included RVs. He inferred that made the city’s parking requirement higher than necessary.

But it was a sticking point for the commission.

When the Englewood Group’s vice president of real estate, Brian Pozen, explained how the company arrived at the requested number – 40 years of experience and comparisons with Valley communities – Commissioner Dan Frank pointed out a large mathematical mistake in the data from Chandler.

While the paperwork showed Chandler’s parking ratio for a two-bedroom unit to be two parking spaces, it showed a three-bedroom unit to have a parking ratio of 0.25 space per unit. That caused a misrepresentation in the totals, making it appear Chandler required far few parking spaces per unit than Maricopa. Frank asked staff to fix the mistake and come back with correct numbers.

Commissioner Dan Frank

The planned complex would be on a triangle of property between Walmart and Banner Health off Porter Road. Entry points will be a future Shea Road north of the property and an easement for an existing access point off Porter from the Walmart property. Neither location has a traffic light.

Commissioner Ted Yocum said the comparisons with other communities’ parking needs did not take into account Maricopa’s status as a bedroom community with 70 percent of its residents driving out of town to work and having more car ownership.

“I really believe this project needs more parking spaces,” he said.

When Huggins began picking apart lighting, access for first responders, ingress/egress and landscaping, Haque told the commission details had been vetted and met the city code requirements.

“They meet the code,” he said. “You cannot impose something extra.”

Huggins spars with Development Services Director Kazi Haque.

The developer has been going by the rules laid down by the city, he said, and suddenly changing the rules was unfair to the applicant.

“Well, if it only matters if it meets the code, and it meets the code, then why are we here?” Huggins asked.

She said the commission wanted to set precedent in its overview of the project, knowing that other multi-family housing projects have already been proposed for other locations, ranging from condominiums to senior housing.

Pozen said 72 of the 120 units planned in the five-building Oasis complex are intended to be subsidized housing and the other 48 to be at market value. When residents alleged “affordable” housing would lead to drugs, theft and prostitution, Commissioner Joshua Babb referred to the Fair Housing Act.

Commissioner Joshua Babb

“We cannot discriminate based on income,” Lopez said in agreement.

“A third of our teachers would qualify for subsidized housing,” Commissioner Jim Irving said.

Irving pressed city staff and Pozen on traffic flow. He said five schools already exist in the area – Legacy Traditional School, Central Arizona College, Saddleback Elementary School, Leading Edge Academy and Heritage Academy – and a sixth is planned – A+ Charter School, creating traffic jams before and after school. He said he assumed traffic coming out of The Oasis would only add to the northbound traffic.

Lopez said all of that was considered in the traffic impact study, but Irving was not convinced.

Commissioner Jim Irving

Neither was Tena Dugan, who spoke as a representative of the Glennwilde HOA. She said she is not against apartments but developers “need to meet the code” for parking. Dugan said the city did the same studies for the Heritage Academy site and assured residents there would be little impact. However, she said, parents are parking all over streets on and around Adam’s Way and taking over the parking in the HOA park nearby.

Development Services Director Kazi Haque

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A Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall is planned at 40675 W. Honeycutt Road and received its commercial permit, valued at $793,000. Contractor is Sutherland Construction Company.

Volkswagen, 20053 N. Murphy Road, continues work on its new electric-vehicle charging station, receiving a commercial structural permit and a major electrical permit, which was valued at $1 million. It also received a permit for a hydrant flow test.

Buff City Soap, describing itself as a “soap makery,” received a permit to do some non-residential demolition for its new location in a storefront at 21101 N. John Wayne Parkway

Omni Storage, 42200 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, a planned self-storage company off Stonegate Road, also ran a hydrant flow test as it moves forward with construction.

Mountain Trace Development, planning an apartment complex at 41337 N. Shea Way, received a permit for a hydrant flow test for its 5.83 acres at Oasis at the Wells, between Walmart and Banner Health.

A+ Charter School, a planned high school in Glennwilde, received a permit to run a hydrant flow test at 41949 W. Barcelona Drive. It has scheduled a Dec. 4 groundbreaking.

Meritage Homes received a subdivision final plat amendment for 41897 W. Friendly Place on Parcel 10 in Province.

New projects getting their fire sprinkler systems prepped were the electric charging station at Volkswagen, the new location for Domino’s Pizza, 20024 N. John Wayne Parkway, the new location for Mount Moriah Church, 19275 N. Gunsmoke Road, and F.O.R. Maricopa food bank.

This item appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

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Edison Place is at the corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


The newly finished Edison Place on the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road sold for $4.578 million to K&N Investors, according to county records.

The previous owner and developer of the lot was Signal Healthcare of Paradise Valley. K&N is based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The 9,000-square-foot commercial building is fully occupied by SimonMed Imaging and Heartland Dental.

The sale was brokered by commercial real estate firm Newmark Knight Frank. NKF announced the sale in October. The sale took place Aug. 30. It amounts to $531 per square foot.

“The Maricopa property is an example of how healthcare providers are occupying retail sites for convenient access and visibility for patients,” NKF Managing Director Trisha Talbot said in a media release.

This item appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Kyle Norby

According to City Councilmember Nancy Smith, Walgreens has applied for a tenant improvement permit for the building located west of Walmart on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Smith posted on her Facebook page the new store “should be opened by the end of the year or first of next.” The application was submitted today, according to City documents, and requires 24 standard inspections.

The shell building was constructed in 2009 on 1.52 acres with the intent to be a drug store, but the ensuing Great Recession halted its development. The current project is to complete interior alterations.

The land at 41840 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway is owned by Maricopa 7 LLC, which purchased it three years ago for a reported $7 million from Maricopa WG LLC. It previously belonged to Shea Maricopa LLC and Homestead Village South, according to county tax records. The commercial area is officially known as Maricopa Power Center The Wells.

An AAMCO is planned among other businesses as part of the redevelopment of a parcel south of Aaron's on John Wayne Parkway.

Business briefs in Maricopa from Aug. 16 to Sept. 15:

AAMCO is building a 4,411-square-foot shop at 20215 N. John Wayne Parkway north of Maricopa Self Storage. It received a commercial permit for the project valued at $595,441 to be built by Henes Construction. It also received permits for turn lane and driveway off John Wayne Parkway and other improvements.

Ground was broken for a La Quinta Inn at Copper Sky Sept. 20. The hotel is planned for 89 rooms in four stories at 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

The former Pet Club is now Exceptional Pets at 21145 N. John Wayne Parkway. Managed by Bridgette Graeb, the location carries pet supplies and offers salon and spa services, including horse feed and tack.

Seeking to turn an old building in the Heritage District into office space, Gen Systems Inc. received a commercial tenant improvement permit for work at 45115 W. Garvey Ave., a property owned by Maricopa Heritage Pointe.

Heritage Pointe is reworking property in the Heritage District.

Aztec Ventures plans to open a comic book store, gaining a commercial tenant improvement permit for 20800 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 108.

The City of Maricopa filed notice of its plan to adopt new development fees. A public hearing on the matter is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 15 for adoption in November. The proposed maximum development fee on a single-family home is $5,473.

Sacate Pellet Mill put in a fire sprinkler for its northside hay office, a 4,230-square-foot structure at 38743 W. Cowtown Road. It is owned by Red River Cattle Company.

Wendy’s completed its fire hood suppression system and had its permit for a 348-square-foot patio addition before opening Aug. 29 in the former Carl’s Jr. at 21000 N. John Wayne Parkway.

The City granted a permit for Maricopa Police Department to install four shade canopies in its parking lot at 39675 W. Civic Center Plaza. The listed value was $120,000.

This item appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

MHG Commercial Real Estate rendering of possible building at Estrella Gin.

Estrella Gin Business Park effectively was sold by the City to two companies for development.

Tuesday, Maricopa City Council approved the purchase agreement of 12.32 acres to J.E.T. Real Estate Holdings and 16.96 acres to Elpida LLC. The total purchase price between the two is $1.9 million.

Estrella Gin, which is located along Edison Road from Roosevelt Avenue to State Route 238, has been a focus of the City’s economic development department for years. In August, the City sold two acres to Mel’s Auto (NAPA Auto) for around $152,000.

The only structure on the acreage is the City of Maricopa Fire/Medical Department administrative office trailer, which is temporary as an admin building is being built across the street.

City Manager Ricky Horst said he “couldn’t be more delighted” to present to projects to the council for their vote. He said the projects create 275,000 square feet of mix of office, flex space, light industrial and warehouse.

“We’re talking about the full and complete development of the Estrella Gin Commerce Park,” Horst said.

The city is working with two different parties, but Woodglen Opportunities is the master developer working with Construction Solutions Company as the builder and contractor, Horst said.

The Elpida LLC portion of the development is controlled by developer Joe L. Cook. Realtor Shane Cook of MHG Commercial expects to lease office space of 1,000 square feet and up and offer build-to-suit construction of 10,000 square feet and larger.

Groundbreaking could be as early as the last quarter of this year. The companies are aiming for a diverse array of businesses to fill the space.

The development is on the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Hathaway Avenue. Photo by Kyle Norby

A Mexican restaurant is the stepping-off property for a new commercial development in Maricopa.

Riliberto’s Fresh Mexican Food is scheduled to open in March or April, according to Bryan Ledbetter of Western Retail Advisors, which is developing the lot on the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Hathaway Avenue. The property south of Maricopa Self Storage has long been known in city development paperwork as Maricopa Town Plaza.

Ledbetter named other companies expected to fill in the area, as well. They include Hampton Inn, Goodyear Tire and Maricopa Vet Clinic, he said.

“We will have 1,365 square feet of space next to Riliberto’s with a patio for lease,” Ledbetter said.

An as-yet unnamed fast-food restaurant “specializing in chicken” is in negotiations for a pad next to Riliberto’s.

A Mexican eatery has been part of development paperwork on that property for years, back to when the land was attached to Holiday Inn Express.

The City of Maricopa intends to impose its new development impact fees in 2020. It sent out notice this week of a public hearing on the matter scheduled for Oct. 15.

The fees are expected to be adopted in November and go into effect Feb. 2.

Maximum fees allowed are outlined in the Land Use Assumptions, Infrastructure Improvements Plan and Development Fee Report written in July. The city council can adopt lower rates.

The development fees are part of the city’s philosophy that new construction should pay for its impact on infrastructure. For instance, the proposed maximum development fee on a single-family home is $5,473, which is $41 less than the current development fee. Of the total amount, $2,965 goes to streets, $1,207 to parks and recreation, $674 to fire, $496 to police and $131 to libraries.

The maximum development fee on hotel construction, a new category, would be $1,843. Of that, $868 would go to streets, $532 to fire, $408 to police, $32 to parks and recreation and $3 to libraries. The development fee for a new commercial build is $6,867.

Development fees on assisted living facilities, schools and churches are expected to go down dramatically while the fee on daycare construction jumps by more than $6,000.

The city has different fees for north and south. North Maricopa is comprised of the area north of Farrell Road, which is most of current Maricopa development.

Heritage Academy received a new address. Photo by Kyle Norby


Domino’s Pizza, 20046 N. John Wayne Parkway, is moving to the former Peñascos location, 20024 N. John Wayne Parkway in The Shops at Maricopa Village. The pizza store received a commercial tenant improvement permit after getting approval to do some demolition work in the new place.

Heritage Academy received a permit for a fire sprinkler system and fire alarm in its A building and a commercial permit for the 16,101-square-foot academic building. It also convinced the city council to allow a name change of its street. Formerly on Lucera Lane, the new charter school is now on Heroes Way in Glennwilde.

Richmond-American Homes started a grading and drainage permit for its driveway extensions at 44307 W. Palo Nuez St. in Palo Brea to accommodate a three-car entry.

Meritage Homes is converting a garage into a sales office at 19769 N. MacNeil Court in Homestead North. Meritage also received a standard plan review for lots in Province. K. Hovnanian Homes was allowed a temporary construction trailer at 46172 W. Mountain View Road in Maricopa Meadows.

Sacate Pellet Mill received a commercial permit for a pre-engineered metal building at 38743 W. Cowtown Road. The new business also received a permit for its fire sprinkler in its hay office.

Apex Motor Club was allowed to place a $35,000 pre-manufactured building on its property at 22408 N. Ralston Road through a factory-built commercial permit. The building is 2,500 square feet.

Sequoia Pathway Academy, 19265 N. Porter Road, used a commercial alteration permit to restore a modular bathroom after work on a mold problem.

The Jamie Brisbin Agency of State Farm moved into office space in Bradley Butz’s building at 19395 N. John Wayne Parkway, received a new tenant final inspection July 24.

In putting in an electric vehicle charging station, Volkswagen received a commercial foundation-only permit as “at risk” at 17169 N. Murphy Road.

Hope Women’s Center, 45978 W. McDavid Road, received a commercial tenant improvement permit for work contracted by Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona.

Simon Med Imaging received a permit for a fire alarm in its new office at 44555 W. Edison Road, Suite B.

This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.