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economic development

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.

Permit Center Supervisor Daranne Tacker presents the printed permit to Developer Andy Bhakta this afternoon at Maricopa City Hall. (Submited photo)

Maricopa just issued the building permit for the first hotel in city limits – La Quinta.

According to Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, La Quinta is a “midscale hotel that offers an elevated stay in a contemporary setting.”

The new La Quinta aims to be operational in 2020 and will be located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard adjacent to Copper Sky.

La Quinta Maricopa is a projected $10 million capital investment with 20 net new jobs added to the city. The four-story, 89-room hotel is the first phase of the planned Copper Sky Mixed Use project.

Proposed colors and materials for the Anderson Farms subdivision.

How do new commercial and residential areas affect traffic?

In reviewing two developments in Maricopa, the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission may have caused staff to draw a new focus on traffic impact in future. Monday, members were specifically looking at the details of the planned Anderson Farms subdivision and the Sonoran Creek marketplace.

Commissioner Joshua Babb asked whether staff knew how much traffic would increase in the area of Anderson Farms, which would include around 200 homes in phases 1A and 1B. The property is near the southeast corner of Bowlin Road and Hartman Road.

The question came up again as the commission previewed Sonoran Creek, Thompson Thrift’s planned five-pad shopping center on the southwest corner of Edison Road and John Wayne Parkway. City planner Ben Cereceres said traffic flow in the area will be taken into account.

Commissioner Jim Irving echoed Babb’s concern about the increased number of vehicles development would bring.

“We need to put an emphasis on that because a lot of people walk in that area,” he said.

When told the staff report showed planned roads and expected traffic fell within limits, Irving shook his head.

“I don’t think ‘within limits’ is acceptable,” he said.

Babb requested staff create a traffic-flow study for future presentations. Chairperson Linda Huggins said she would like traffic studies to be more transparent within the reports.

Planning & Zoning manager Rudy Lopez said the conversation had inspired city staff to look for appropriate approaches to the question of traffic flow and traffic impact of developments.

The commission voted to recommend approval of the Anderson Farms preliminary plat for Phase 1B. It also gave the nod to a land-use designation change from commercial/employment to mixed use for 30 acres at Copper Sky, rezoning of 20 acres at Copper Sky and rezoning of 4.75 acres near Civic Center Plaza for the new library. All those projects will go before the city council.

The Sonoran Creek project will come back to the Planning & Zoning Commission for the development plan review.

An empty corner of what was supposed to be Stonegate Center has collected trash a debris over the years but now may become a self-storage facility. Photo by Kyle Norby

A development that has been in the doldrums since 2008 may get new life while a long-time farm is turning more of its acres into a residential area.

Maricopa City Council approved an amendment to the original Planned Area Development for Stonegate Center, which remains vacant between Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Alan Stephens Parkway. Council also approved the rezoning of a portion of Anderson Farms on the east side of Maricopa.

The Stonegate Center, 42200 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy., was about 50 acres on the west side of Stonegate Road and was meant to be a retail area similar to The Wells or Edison Point.

The new proposal is a self-storage facility on about four acres in the northeast corner. A change to the PAD is necessary to allow personal storage, outdoor vehicle storage and living quarters for an onsite manager. The proposed Omni Storage would have five buildings up to two stories high as well as outdoor storage for vehicles and RVs.

It is the first phase of the reimagined commercial development. Other elements of the master plan are in early the planning stages. Senior Planner Rudy Lopez said the next steps are a development review permit and then a construction permit.

City of Maricopa

Anderson-Palmisano Farms is planning another 111 residential lots in Anderson Farms Phase 1B of its ongoing project. The 29 acres had general rural zoning. The council’s vote Tuesday approved it for RS-5 zoning, which is a residential designation of a master planned community of medium density for single-family homes.

Being developed by Marbella Homes, the area sits north of Anderson Farms Phase 1A, which recently received RS-5 zoning, and comprises 80 lots. The overall plan has 10 phases that would gradually include all of the acreage in a rectangle bordered by Hartman, Bowlin, Murphy and Farrell roads.

Anderson-Palmisano Farms was established in 1949 and continues to operate agriculturally.

Maricopa Planning & Zoning Committee will discuss a preliminary plat request on Anderson Farms Phase 1 at its next meeting, Monday at 6 p.m.

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The number of single-family residential homebuilding permits approved in July 2019 totaled 150.

With D.R. Horton Construction building in Tortosa and Rancho Mirage Estates, Meritage Homes in Homestead South and Province, and Richmond American in Palo Brea, Maricopa has returned to pre-recession levels of home permit requests.

Combined, 10 homebuilders received 150 single-family residential (SFR) permits in July, the highest monthly total since October 2007. The total projects are valued at $37 million.

DRH accounted for 60 of those home-building permits. The builder is quickly filling in streets in north and south Tortosa. Richmond, meanwhile, has rebooted the once-stagnant development of Palo Brea, and KB Home has lots in Homestead.

Starlight Homes and Scott Homes are both building in Sorrento. Fulton Homes continues construction in Glennwilde. LGI Homes is in Rancho Mirage, Costa Verde Homes is in Santa Rosa Springs, and Lennar is prepping more lots in Alterra.

According to the City of Maricopa, the July total tops the entire year of 2011, when only 110 homebuilding permits were issued.

“The amount of SFR permits coming in is astonishing,” Permit Technician Isela Hernandez said in a City release. “Maricopa is a great place to live and raise a family, and with all these new homes in development it seems the secret is out.”

The former Carl's Jr. is transforming into a Wendy's. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


Wendy’s received the go-ahead for commercial tenant improvements to the former Carl’s Jr. at 21000 N. John Wayne Parkway. That project was valued at $100,000. The building is being redone by Andrews Design Group with construction carried out by Burke Construction.

Abbott+Taylor LLC is making tenant improvements for a new ASUI medical office at 21300 N. John Wayne Parkway, a 1,991-square-foot office in Maricopa Professional Village in Cobblestone Fiesta.

Edison Family Dental Care, 44555 N. John Wayne Parkway, opened its doors in Suite A of the new building with two dentists on staff.

Volkswagen is adding an electric-vehicle charging station in its parking lot at 20053 N. Murphy Road.

Anderson-Palmisano Farms entered a development agreement with the City of Maricopa to create a planned area development on its acres bound by Hartman, Bowlin, Murphy and Farrell roads in east Maricopa.

The City of Maricopa received a commercial permit for its new administration building for the Maricopa Fire/Medical Department, 45695 W. Edison Road. It is valued at $1.8 million. MFMD will also add a $1 million fire-apparatus storage bay to the maintenance facility. Willmeng Construction is the contractor.

Maricopa Unified School District received commercial permits for eight factory-built buildings that will temporarily house 16 classes at Maricopa High School, which is over capacity. MUSD also received a permit for a modular restroom. Each was valued at $88,900.

Secate Pellet Mill, 38743 W. Cowtown Road, is installing a sprinkler system for fire suppression in its new warehouse/office building.

Sunshine Family Healthcare Center received its final inspection as a new tenant at 19756 N. John Wayne Parkway in the Duke Plaza.

Maricopa Family Dentistry, 44480 W. Honeycutt Road, received a permit for commercial alterations to the 2,244-square-foot space to add two suites. The contractor is WeBuildIt Construction.

Trend Salon & Spa, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road, had its grand opening June 21. Brakes Plus had a grand opening and ribbon-cutting July 18.

K Hovnanian opened a model home sales office at 17819 N. Miller Way in Maricopa Meadows. It received a permit for a 50-foot flagpole as well.

Lennar Homes is opening sales/construction offices at 44767 W. Rhea Road and 44781 W. Rhea Road in Alterra South. Meritage Homes placed a construction office a 21226 N. Jubilee Place in Province.

This item appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Lennar Homes has a sales office and construction office in Alterra.

State Treasurer Kimberly Yee. Photo by Kyle Norby

Kimberly Yee is in her first year as Arizona’s state treasurer after serving as a state lawmaker and speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention. She sat down with InMaricopa to talk about a new Financial Literacy Task Force and the goals of her office to help Millennials and others understand their finances.

Greenway High School, Pepperdine University majoring in English and political science, ASU master’s in public administration
Husband and two children
Previous work:
Deputy cabinet secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, policy analyst for Gov. Pete Wilson, executive team of Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin, eight years as Arizona legislator in District 20, second woman (after Sandra Day O’Connor) to serve as Senate Majority Leader
Fun fact:
She is the first Asian-American elected to the Arizona Legislature. She is the fifth-straight generation of her family to own a small business in the United States.

Remind us of your background and how you came to the State Treasurer’s Office.
I was born and raised in Arizona, so I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and went to Greenway High School, Pepperdine University for my undergrad. Majored in English and political science and earned my master’s degree in public administration from Arizona State University. One of the things I did right after college was start working for public policymakers. I had the privilege of working for two governors in California. I specifically chose education-related policies, so early on I worked on childcare and development issues, later serving for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – I was his deputy cabinet secretary working on education-related issues. I came back to my home state to work for former state treasurer Dean Martin. He was our state treasurer for four years, back in 2007, ‘08, ‘09 and ‘10. It was a time where the state was going through a lot of financial-related issues, and the office was very helpful in trying to determine where our economic revenues were coming in and how they were being spent. We were able to use the Treasurer’s Office back then to warn the Legislature and the executive office that things were looking dim in the future, and from an economic forecast they needed to start spending down what they were previously spending on because the revenues were not coming in. Back then it was really the beginning of using the Treasurer’s Office for economic purposes in helping policymakers.

Were they listening?
Well, they did have our information available to them. Did they listen? No. Unfortunately, they didn’t. We asked them to spend $150 million less than they were spending, and then they created a budget that fiscal year to spend more than $150 million [more]. That’s not the way we anticipated they should go, but we did our due diligence by providing the information for them to know where we were in our budget and where we were in our economy.

“Well, they did have our information available to them. Did they listen? No.”

Now, fast-forward, around that same time, my state senator was looking to retire. So, it was a woman asking another woman to run for office, and I wanted to see if that became open and it did. I became a state House member first and then served in the Arizona Senate for three terms in District 20, which was northwest Phoenix, parts of Glendale. And I served as the senate majority leader in my last term. I was the second female to have that position since Sandra Day O’Connor served 44 years prior to that time. It was a real privilege to meet with Sandra Day O’Connor, the former justice, when she came to the Legislature and I invited her as my guest and we promoted civics education, which is a legacy she wanted to leave following her time on the bench.

This seems to be always circling back to education. What drew you to that in the first place?
My mother was a former schoolteacher in the public-school system in Phoenix for 38 years. It was easy for me to make that decision, because around the dinner table, as a young girl, we talked about education and the importance of making sure our kids have a high quality of education no matter what ZIP code they lived in. I carried that in my public policy behind the scenes working for elected officials, and then when I became elected that really was a priority for me and has been. So, I’ll continue working on education-related issues even out of the Treasurer’s Office.

Right off the bat, I promoted financial education in our schools, which is something that is very important. When I was working for State Treasurer Dean Martin 12 years ago, we were looking at our schools and unfortunately found we aren’t teaching kids the basics, these life skills, on how to manage their money. When I learned this wasn’t a requirement, while I was serving in the Legislature I tried to promote and sponsor legislation that would get us moving toward that direction. Early on in my legislative career, I sponsored a bill that requires the K-12 system to have academic standards which touch on financial education, age-appropriate of course. In kindergarten, a student can learn about savings in a piggy bank but have more concepts that are a little more complicated as they move on to high school. Simple skills that are really used once you get out into the real world.

“We were looking at our schools and unfortunately found we aren’t teaching kids the basics, these life skills, on how to manage their money.”

Finally, at the end of my term, we look at how do we incentivize a high schooler to take classes that teach you these basic skills? Because these other classes are much more inviting, like golf and art. Who would take a business class or something that would teach these things? So, I created a little seal at the end of my time in the Senate that allows for a student who takes these courses to have a seal of proficiency for financial education. So, that really would help them if they take – even if it’s just one semester – a class that would allow them to get that seal on their graduation diploma. Once I became state treasurer, it was important to deal with it more. We really want to teach students in high school those basic life skills to ensure they understand how to balance a budget, balance their checkbook, what it means to carry credit month-to-month on their credit card. We had a bill put before the Legislature that has now become law that requires a student who is in their econ semester to be taught financial education within that time period. They would have curriculum that would be embedded in that econ semester that teaches them these basic skills.

Is this going to be part of the Financial Literacy Task Force?
The Task Force will move forward to create more ideas. This was already done in my first six months and it’s now law, so this will be the first academic year that will be administered. We have a long line of items we want to continue to work on. I created a task force of 16 members, 17 including myself – I chair the task force – first-ever in the state that brought together experts in this field, individuals who will represent not only our K-12 system to advance educational options for financial education but also other vulnerable communities like our senior citizens who are on fixed-income budgets. Our veterans and those who have served in the military, we have a representative on their behalf.

We have teachers, we have individuals who represent vulnerable populations, for instance single-parent homes and those who are struggling to find jobs. We also wanted to be sure to hit a number of these groups who are dealing with issues in their finances, to provide them with a toolbox, resources that are free that will help them get on their feet. One of the reasons why we’re in Maricopa today is to talk to a group that will be able to advance that through nonprofit work. It’s exciting for me. This will be a priority for my administration. It’s something I’ve been passionate for over a decade.

How did you find the members of the task force?
A number of them I worked with over my time in the Legislature, those eight years working on bills that advance financial education in our schools but also looking at what we can do next. In talking to various groups, we need to open doors for individuals to find easy-to-find resources – something that’s free of cost. We need to put it into one place. I thought, “What better way to bring everybody together at one table for the first time.”

Our meeting was fantastic when we first met face-to-face. We have a lot of work to do. We’re going to provide proposals on how we’re going to roll this out in all these various communities. I’ve just come back from a treasurer’s conference where I’m learning from other states what they’ve done. We’re borrowing ideas, we’re looking for ideas. We have it open to the public so we can hear from others who aren’t at the table.

“When these young kids come out into the real world, they have to learn how to manage their money or it will affect your neighborhood.”

I think this is very important because if affects everybody. When these young kids come out into the real world, they have to learn how to manage their money or it will affect your neighborhood. We are looking at our Millennial population in particular, because these are young people who we see, the evidence shows, are $1.6 trillion in student debt. Roughly 39 percent of the Millennial population say they don’t pay their bills on time. That’s a significant number. If we keep going down that road, we will really be in trouble from an economic perspective. So, this is a conversation we should have had years and years ago, but let’s have it now.

After your years in the Treasurer’s Office, to come back as the treasurer yourself, did you find surprises there?
In a good way. There was very little transition time because I already knew the office and how it works. At the very beginning I wanted to create new structure in terms of our organizational chart. I moved various divisions into areas that fit better in terms of operations and performance from our investment side.

As you know, we manage roughly $40 billion in the state’s cash management of the budgets going in and out of the agencies throughout the year. We have roughly $17 billion in assets under management in our office. This provides investments for local governments, local jurisdictions that would like our office optionally to invest their dollars. It was important for me to look at what other administrations had done, what their performance has been in those areas, what we can do that can be improved. One of the things I wanted to improve was our local government investment pool.

“If we maximize every single dollar, that’s really what matters. That’s what people elected me to do.”

These are optional choices that local governments can make, but if they see that our returns are doing great, which they are, and they want to invest those local dollars, that means more to local taxpayers, which means more money for infrastructure, education, transportation. I want to provide that eye-to-eye conversation with our local leaders. I have been going out on the road, talking to mayors and council folks because they need to know when we’re managing their funds, that we’re doing a great job at it and we have various portfolio options they can continue to use or advance.

If we maximize every single dollar, that’s really what matters. That’s what people elected me to do. I’m looking out for the state level but for the local dollars as well. I also want to use the office to continue to advance our economic forecasts because what we see coming in and out of the office really does matter to the policymaker, whether it be at the state level or even at the local level, how they’re going to plan their out-going budgets year to year. If we can provide the information and that can be helpful to them, I’d like to use that economic forecast for their purposes.

How well do you think the average Arizonan understands what your office does?
I think probably not a lot of people know what the Treasurer’s Office does. That has been another goal of mine. I’ve been [making] the office available for tours, for children to come in to see what we do. It’s something I’m proud of. This office has done such great, great work over so many decades, and we need to acknowledge that from the taxpayers’ perspective. In fact, our investors in our office, they manage the state land trust proceeds. So, anytime state lands are sold, the proceeds come immediately to our office and investors invest that money, and most of it goes to K-12 education. That is something most people probably don’t know, but it’s important because the numbers are significant.

“Anytime state lands are sold, the proceeds come immediately to our office and investors invest that money, and most of it goes to K-12 education.”

What we invest goes right back into the K-12 system. As an example. All of the state lands that were sold in the last fiscal year, in this fiscal year 2020, which just began, we are going to roll out $342 million to the K-12 system on top of what they’ve already received from the legislative appropriations. Those are investments that came out of our office from the state lands sold. That is one that I would like to share, but also to talk about how well the investments have performed.

We really take a careful look at how we invest. It’s always safety first, because these are tax dollars. If you were to look at our long-term investments over 10 years, over a billion dollars, and you were to compare the National Association of College and University Business Officials that ranks the biggest endowments across the country, we out-performed Yale, Stanford, Columbia and Harvard, all of the big universities. We ranked in the 95th percentile. It shows that our office has done very, very well in its investment performance on behalf of the taxpayers

This article appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

The process of updating the City of Maricopa’s impact fees continues with planned implementation early next year.

A draft report by TischlerBise on proposed fees has been on the City’s website this summer, and city council hosted a hearing for public comments on that draft report last week. No one spoke.

The proposed rendering of the fees in the draft “Land Use Assumptions, Infrastructure Improvements Plan and Development Fee Report” now separates development into North Maricopa and South Maricopa, using Farrell Road as the dividing point. Most impact fees are higher in the south.

City Hall expects the updated fees to go into effect in February.

First, however, the council must adopt the draft report, probably at its Sept. 3 meeting. Then the updated development fees must be posted in September and another public hearing called in October ahead of council adoption in November and enactment 75 days later, according to Brenda Hasler, the City’s senior financial analyst.

By law, the impact fees must be reviewed every five years.

Hasler said the draft report was sent to the development community for feedback. Two entities responded.

She said one was a business in the Maricopa area. “They were primarily more interested in how these fees are going to affect their buildings that they’re looking to build in the future. There were no questions as to how it was developed or the amount of the fees or anything related to that.”

Home Builders Association of Central Arizona also responded through a letter from Jackson Moll that included questions and statistics and took issue with some of Maricopa’s assumptions. The City took that feedback into account and made some changes to items funded by impact fees.

Moll, for instance, pointed out the estimate for replacement football and soccer fields of $1 million was double that of similar municipalities. He also said the City’s estimate for two horseshoe pits ($140,000) was 20 times more than any other municipality.

Carson Bise, president of TischlerBise, responded, saying staff reviewed the playing field numbers and reduced the $1 million estimate to $525,000. The cost per horseshoe pit was reduced to $8,000. Other changes derived from the HBACA feedback included a reduction in roundabouts from six to four, the addition of lane miles for bridges and roundabouts and reduction of cost-per-square-foot of a new fire station.

The City and Bise also pushed back on some of HBACA’s developmental theories regarding how Maricopa is growing and the resulting impact on streets.

“Once we came to a mutual agreement, they were pleased with our numbers,” Hasler said.

Mayor Christian Price said it was important to get feedback from the development community.

“We certainly want to be competitive with every other location out there,” he said, “but at the same time we want to make sure that we’re showing a very business-friendly attitude.”

Click photo to enlarge

The economic boon of more businesses and more construction is showing up in sales tax receipts.

According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, Maricopa businesses collected $15.2 million in “transaction privilege tax” during the fiscal year that ended June 30. Though that appears to be a 22-percent increase over the previous fiscal year, City Manager Rick Horst said it’s not quite so.

“The actual number is about $14.4 million,” he said.

The extra $600,000 was paid by the state “in arrears” from the previous year after an audit cleanup, Horst said.

But the real numbers do result in a year-to-year increase of about 15 percent. In fiscal year 2017-18, Maricopa took in $12.5 million in TPT, also called sales tax.

Contracting, primarily from construction, brought in $4.7 million during the year, according to DOR. Retail collected $3.8 million.

Horst said sales tax collections continue to grow as more and more businesses come to Maricopa. However, he said he is still concerned with “leakage,” the estimated $400 million that Maricopa shoppers spend outside the city.ow

Sales tax helps the City pay for infrastructure and personnel. Horst estimated the hire of one police officer, as an example, with salary, benefits, uniform, equipment and vehicle, costs about $300,000.

“It doesn’t go as far as people think it does,” he said.

SimonMed is prepping offices in the Signal Health building.

La Quinta received a development review permit for its plans to build a hotel at Copper Sky as the City works to commercialize the property west of the park. As part of the project, the City decreased the amount of land it agreed to sell to Maricopa Auberge LLC near the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard by almost 5,000 square feet. The purchase price was $411,970, or about $5 per square foot.

Sacate Pellet Mill, 38743 W. Cowtown Road, received commercial permits for five new buildings. One is 1,584 square feet, another 3,479 square feet, a metal building to cover the boiler and air compressor is 616 square feet, and a metal hay canopy is 9,860 square feet. The fifth building is a 4,230-square-foot hay office. Sacate was also approved for a modular sales office.

A new church to be built at 19275 N. Gunsmoke Road received a commercial permit. Schifferer Built LLC is the contractor for what will be Mount Moriah Community AME Church. It is planned as a 2,096-square-foot building valued at $317,000. The project received a grading and drainage permit, too.

SimonMed was approved to make changes to Suite B in the new Signal Healthcare building at 44555 W. Edison Road in anticipation of a 4,539-square-foot office space for diagnostics. The City approved a comprehensive sign plan for Edison Place, 44500 W. Edison Road, including three illuminated wall signs for SimonMed.

Apex Motor Club, 22408 N. Ralston Road, opened the first phase of its track to its membership with a ribbon-cutting April 26. It continues construction on the lot, with plans for a clubhouse and garage condo.

The construction of Heritage Academy continues rapidly at 41004 W. Lucerian Lane in Glennwilde. It received commercial permits for a 13,525-square-foot gymnasium valued at $2.1 million and was approved for fire sprinklers in both its buildings.

Honeycutt Coffee reopened under new ownership May 15 after being closed since February. Tanya and Dave Powers have purchased the business at 44400 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 107, selling coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, muffin tops and pastries.

Hope Women’s Center, 45978 W. McDavid Road, has a zoning permit and is working to renovate a house into a center for its services to women and children.

Pacific Dental Services received approval to make improvement at 41940 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy. near Walmart.

This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

The City purchased almost nine acres near the southeast corner of SR 347 and Bowlin Road.

The City of Maricopa recently bought just under nine acres of land in the Copper Sky development area.

As a rule, it is probably a bad idea for cities to just take whatever falls from the sky.

The $2.65 million purchase at the corner of State Route 347 and Bowlin Road took place for one reason. The city may now determine who will and won’t be part of the development at Copper Sky, next door to its $30 million Copper Sky multicultural complex and park.

“We are focused on that property and we are determined to help it happen,” said Jennifer Bostian, economic development specialist for the City of Maricopa. “We are looking for complementary uses to the Copper Sky complex that’s right next door. We expect the senior living complex will need a couple acres. There will very likely be a second hotel.”

A developer has already announced plans to construct a La Quinta Inn.

“We want to make sure that corner is used for sit-down restaurants and restaurant-type venues that are complementary to the hotels,” Bostian said. “It will be a great mix of retail, residential, office, hotel, recreation and senior living. It will be a great new asset for the city.”

Bostian said there is work on assembling the master plan for the Copper Sky district.

“Nothing has been finalized yet, but it is very close,” she said. “Basically, it looks like Copper Sky recreation center and all the surrounding fields will have hotels, apartments with mixed-use retail. That hard corner (next to SR 347) will probably be the second hotel and restaurants.”

While some design mock-ups have been unveiled, the final plan is still being worked out.

“Nothing has been formally approved yet, but it is well underway,” Bostian said.

She said the city is trying to maintain a vision of the Copper Sky area.

“As a rule, it is probably a bad idea for cities to just take whatever falls from the sky,” she said.

The purpose for the city to spend $2.65 million on this land purchase is simple – they want to sell it. By purchasing it, city leaders can control who buys and develops the property.

“That is the bottom line,” Bostian said. “We do want it to all look like it goes together. There is a lot of heart and soul going into this development.”

City spokesperson Adam Wolfe said this is a way for “the city to control positive sustainable growth in that area.”

Wolfe added that Copper Sky represents growth in the City of Maricopa and, with the addition of the SR 347 overpass, future development will be spurred in the southern part of Maricopa.

“I think we’re going to see a boom in the south, just like we saw in the north side because now you can get there. You don’t have to wait on a train,” Wolfe said.

Bostian said the city seriously needs apartments and a “walkable” community, and the Copper Sky development directly answers these needs.

“There are a couple apartment complexes that are really showing some interest in moving forward,” she said. “Copper Sky represents some things the city has been wanting for, for a long time. The first hotel has been an unmet need for some time. Study after study shows how important walkable communities are. This will really be a way for us to do that.”

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Denyse Airheart with her EDDE award. Submitted photo

The City of Maricopa’s economic development director was honored in the Arizona Association for Economic Development’s Economic Development Distinguished by Excellence (EDDE) awards Thursday.

Denyse Airheart was named Economic Developer of the Year, Small Community, credited with overseeing projects that brought more than $20 million in capital investment, 200,000 square feet of new retail space and more than 75 jobs to Maricopa during 2018.

Airheart called it an honor.

“To be recognized by your peers and staff as having what it takes to move the needle on projects is a huge privilege,” she said. “Equally I would like to recognize Maricopa City Council, who has always made economic development a top priority, as well as my Economic Development team for the hard work and dedication they put forth on a daily basis.”

Overall, 10 EDDEs were presented during an evening awards dinner at the AAED Spring Conference in Tucson. The other winners are:

  • Fernando Garcia, economic development specialist for the City of Casa Grande, AAED’s New Member of the Year.
  • Lawrence T. Lucero, senior director of economic development for Tucson Electric Power Company, the William Lampkin Award for Long Term Excellence in Economic Development.
  • Heath Vescovi-Chiordi, economic development/downtown specialist, Town of Marana, Member of the Year.
  • Jeanine Jerkovic, economic development director for the City of Surprise, Economic Developer of the Year, Large Community.
  • Harry Paxton, economic development project manager for the City of Goodyear, Economic Developer of the Year, Medium Community.
  • Ian Roark, vice president of workforce development for Pima Community College, Workforce Practitioner of the Year.
  • City of Chandler, Large Organization of the Year.
  • City of Goodyear, Medium Organization of the Year.
  • Town of Camp Verde, Small Organization of the Year.

“What a tremendous honor it is for each of the EDDE Award winners to be recognized for their contributions to economic development,” said Joyce Grossman, AZED Pro, AAED’s executive director. “They truly represent the best and brightest economic development practitioners and organizations in Arizona and demonstrate not only a commitment to the communities they serve, but to the economic vitality across the state.”


Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel


Robert Miguel, chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community, has joined the board of directors of Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA).

MEDA is the City of Maricopa’s private-public partnership for economic development.

Miguel was the first elected chairman of the Ak-Chin Indian Community under its new constitution which allowed tribal members to officially vote for their chairman.

“I was born and raised on Ak-Chin and have watched the City of Maricopa, our neighbor, grow into a vibrant and dynamic city,” Miguel said. “There is much synergy between what the elected leaders in Maricopa want for their community and what our tribal council wants for our community. Being a part of MEDA and the discussions regarding economic growth and development will be a benefit to all of us.”

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.

“We are thrilled that Chairman Miguel is a part of our board of directors, bringing not only his knowledge and expertise on tribal affairs, but the Community’s perspective on strategic growth,” said John Schurz, MEDA’s chairman. “That knowledge will be an integral part of our collective success.”

This item appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

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Sunrise Preschool, owned by Legacy Charter, is in the late stages of construction on Porter Road.

The following briefs appeared in the January issue of InMaricopa.

T&K Contracting received a permit for grading and drainage at the northeast corner of Costa del Sol Boulevard and Honeycutt Road for Tortosa Homeowners Association. Tortosa also was approved for right-of-way use for a waterline extension for a proposed lake and a lake pump.

Rosati’s Pizza opened Dec. 12 at Maricopa Station, 21423 N. John Wayne Parkway. It previously received permit for sprinkler system remodel as it took over the space from the former Zoyo Yogurt.

Escape Room Maricopa opened Dec. 7 at Stagestop Marketplace, 44301 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy., in space once occupied by the former Camino Montesssori charter school.

On the other hand, Carl’s Jr. abruptly closed its doors Dec. 13 in anticipation of a change in franchise ownership. It was removed from the corporate map, and no formal announcement has been made about a re-opening.

Sacate Pellet Mills, 38743 W. Cowtown Road, received a zoning change from CI2 to CI1 as it moves its operations to Maricopa from Laveen.

IHOP, 20429 N. John Wayne Parkway in Edison Pointe, was permitted a wet fire sprinkler system Dec. 10 and a fire suppression system Dec. 14 before opening New Year’s Day.

Also in Edison Pointe, WingStop opened its doors Nov. 15, and Wynn Nails & Hair Salon opened next door Dec. 7.

Legacy Charter’s Sunrise Preschool, under construction at 19287 N. Porter Road, was approved for four shade structures at $4,320 each. It also received the OK for a monument sign.

East Valley Cardiology, 20924 N. John Wayne Parkway, was given a commercial tenant improvement permit for a project valued at $188,960.

Walmart and Fry’s Marketplace were given permission to sell fireworks in anticipation of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Fry’s was also permitted for Christmas tree sales in its parking lot.

Dutch Bros., planned for Sonoran Creek Marketplace at 20232 N. John Wayne Parkway, received an on-site improvement permit, valued at $147,388.

The City of Maricopa was permitted a real estate sign for Copper Sky Commercial Development.

Rehoboth Residential, a group home, received a zoning permit for a Rosa Drive residence in Santa Rosa Springs.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart shows MEDA and the city council plans to develop Copper Sky. Photo by Jim Headley

Millions of dollars are about to be invested into the Copper Sky Commercial District.

Wednesday, Denyse Airheart, Maricopa’s director of Economic Development, announced plans for an 18-acre development around Copper Sky that will include La Quinta Hotel, 620 units of multifamily housing, a 172-unit Morning Star Assisted Living Center and 53,000 square feet of new retail space.

Airheart unveiled the $146-million plan at Wednesday’s special meeting between the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) and Maricopa City Council.

“The southern parcel will include a hotel with about 85 rooms,” Airheart said. “That is going to be the very first project on this site. Phase one will continue to include about 320 units of multifamily housing and then retail with about 16,000 square feet.”

She said the northeastern corner of the development will also include assisted living housing.

“This is a segment of our population that we are not able to cater to today,” Airheart said. “The developer that we are working with is interested in being in and out with construction within three years. The developer is investing money and he also has to work to attract investment dollars to this project. We hope this will go on to expand the critical relationships that we are working on.”

Airheart said La Quinta Hotel is a $10 million private investment and will be four stories tall with 89 rooms. It will have a $1 million annual operating budget and create 20 jobs according to Airheart.

She said it will provide an annual payroll of $390,000 to the local economy, as well as property, bed and sales taxes.

Hopes are the hotel will be operational by the end of 2020.

Those attending the MEDA meeting were extremely excited by Airheart’s release about the development.

“Ummm, so this is confirmed?” one man asked.

Photo by Jim Headley

Airheart replied it was about to become reality and the developer is ready to start on the project soon. Businesses going into the open retail spaces at the new development will be “market-driven.”

City Manager Rick Horst told the crowd the developer of the hotel is Shea Connelly Development, a national developer with a long and prestigious track record.

The hotel is separate from the multifamily housing and retail complex going into the Copper Sky development. Airheart said the same developer has built a similar project in Fountain Hills.

The Copper Sky Commercial District will include a $100 million private investment into a complex with 53,000 square feet of retail space and provide about 150 new jobs.

The Copper Sky development is almost twice the size of the Fountain Hills development.

The proposed Morning Star assisted living facility is a $30 to $35 million private investment providing 172 units with 82 as independent care, 56 as assisted living and 34 dedicated for memory care. Morning Star is expected to provide 225 jobs to the Maricopa community, according to Airheart.

She provided images of the company’s development at Fountain Hills showing a large and luxurious 91-unit care center that is nearly half the size of what will be built in Maricopa. Fountain Hills was a $21 million investment.

Horst said, in all, the new development could house up to 3,000 more people and will leverage larger events to come to Maricopa, increasing tourism and jobs.

City Manager Rick Horst talks to the joint session. Photo by Jim Headley

Shoppers can find Maricopa's registered businesses online.


The rules governing how you open a business in Maricopa are about to change. 

City leaders have eliminated the requirement for obtaining  business licenses per Chapter 8 of the city code before opening their doors. This applies to most, but not all, new business openings. 

“The changes to Chapter 8 are two-fold,” said Denyse Airheart, Maricopa’s director of Economic Development. “Ultimately, what we wanted to do is modify the business license program, so that it was as easy as possible for our businesses.” 

Airheart said members of her department interview business owners in the community on a regular basis. 

“We understood that a business license, and the business license process, was a bit cumbersome,” she said. “Our goal is to eliminate any challenges that happen that keep people from obtaining a business license.”

The other side of changes in the city’s Chapter 8 rules helps existing business grow. 

“We have learned that businesses need help with marketing. We eliminated business licenses for all non-adult orientated businesses and regulated businesses. That includes auctioneers, pawn brokers, scrap dealers, second-hand dealers, tobacco retail establishments, massage establishments, tattoo or body piercing as well as after-hour establishments,” she said. 

The businesses, which are still regulated, also include adult entertainment, marijuana dispensaries and escort services.  

“We want to be aware of who is running those businesses,” she said. “Those businesses still must obtain a business license. For everyone else what we have rolled out is a business registry program. It is extremely simple. This information helps the city and the Economic Development Department to understand what the business climate looks like.” 

Airheart added the business registry is also a tool for the public as people are hunting for products and services in Maricopa.  

The new business registry will allow people to look for products and services locally and promote businesses through social media.  

She added that the current $50 fee for a business license is unlikely to keep businesses from coming to Maricopa. 

“I think streamlining the process is very attractive for a small business,” she said.  

Check out the growing list of businesses on the registry.


The Peed property was once envisioned as a site for City Hall. Now it sits without infrastructure and is used to store asphalt. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


From State Route 238 to Stanfield, the City of Maricopa owns a wide array of land parcels. Since 2004, the City has acquired about $143 million in property.

While there are parks, public buildings, streets, rights of way and other uses on much of the property, City Hall has some parcels listed simply as “miscellaneous,” and there are still undeveloped acres. The City has plans for some parcels, but others will sit empty for the foreseeable future.

“We are doing the city an injustice by not developing these properties,” Councilwoman Julia Gusse said. “Our predecessors did a great job of securing these properties for future development and growth; it’s time we put them to good use.”

One of the longest-held properties has been the most divisive and the least likely to be developed any time soon.


Called the Peed property and noted as miscellaneous, the 11-acre parcel on SR 238 cost the city $1.2 million in 2006.

“It has no water; it has no utilities,” Councilmember Marvin Brown said. “The city bought it because a former council member pushed the former council to do so.”

The property initially was brought to the council as 150 acres for a possible location of a city hall. At the time, the council was set to spend $14.6 million for it. Steve Baker, then-councilmember, was a real estate agent representing property owner Dennis Peed. While Baker recused himself from votes on the matter, it was a relationship that vexed residents and other Realtors.

After months of debate in 2006, the City ended up buying only the southern portion of the property abutting SR 238. Its continued lack of infrastructure keeps it on a backburner, but some current councilmembers have ideas.

Councilmember Nancy Smith said her vision of the SR 238 corridor is “something similar to the Price Road Corridor in Chandler. Basically, it would include light industrial businesses with high paying jobs.”

Vice Mayor Peg Chapados, who is leaving city council in December, said she, too, sees a major transportation corridor, “a development with elements that complement surrounding growth and that offers the benefits and accessibility of being on SR 238.”

Though there has been little recent city discussion about the Peed property, Councilmember Vincent Manfredi sees it being part of a thriving business park, though it is used as asphalt storage now. There are caveats.

“The city only owns a tiny portion of the surrounding area,” Manfredi said. “Much of the development of the Peed properly rests on the shoulders of surrounding development. Before anything can really be accomplished with the Peed property, there are some flood-zone limitations that must be corrected.


City Center as space for commercial and residential. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


In 2008, Maricopa acquired 129 acres off White and Parker Road for City Hall and a city center at a cost of $3 million. Five years later, the City Hall building ($14.5 million) and police station ($3.9 million) were completed, but there remain wide open spaces for development. What kind of development has been an ongoing discussion this year. Its full cash value now is $12.6 million.

Smith said her vision for city center correlates with an open house held earlier this year for public feedback. “It would include civic buildings, small businesses, diverse housing and restaurants,” she said. “It would be walkable, have open space and be a place to meet up with family and friends.”

Chapados said it should be an area “where people come to live, work, play, learn, socialize and recreate.” Manfredi said it could be something “similar to the Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix.”

Copper Sky is more than just a park but is intended for commercial development, including a hotel. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


In 2010, the City acquired part of Bowlin Plaza property that was to become Copper Sky and the police substation at Copper Sky. The cost of the five acres for the substation and 118.5 acres for the park was $6.8 million. Another $15.9 million was invested in the recreation center and aquatic center in 2014.

From the beginning, Copper Sky was seen as more than a park. A recent contract with Commercial Properties Inc. aims at commercial development on city land between the park and John Wayne Parkway, to be anchored by a hotel.

Chapados wants the area to create the “sense of place” developers have long talked about for Maricopa. “A robust combination of retail, a hotel or two, and possibly residential units that complement Copper Sky as an active, vibrant recreation and aquatic destination to be enjoyed year-round.”

Cecil Yates, property management director for CPI, told the Maricopa City Council he already had three hotel users interested. “They want to stick shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” Yates said.

“I think you’ll find that at the end of the day the City will sell that land, but it will be to restaurateurs, hoteliers, residential units, shops, all those type of things,” City Manager Rick Horst said. “The public benefit will come in a lot of forms, to include the revenues needed to support Parks and Rec and Public Safety, but also lifestyle.”

Estrella Gin Business Park. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


Maricopa purchased the Estrella Gin property for $3.1 million in 2011. It has been intended for a light industrial business park. Manfredi also imagines a container park.

“This property has a lot of potential, if we can find the right developer to work with us as a city,” he said.

But it has been a struggle to bring in companies. The City ended its agreement with The Boyer Company, which produced no tenants or buildings in four years, and Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said the city may have a new developer on board soon.

“My experience tells me the market gets it right about 85 percent of the time, and government gets it right about 30 percent of the time, so we have to create partnerships,” Horst said. “There’ll come a time when we don’t have to do that anymore because the market will take over.”

Chapados said she would like the business park to complement “Maricopa’s Heritage District and rich history through design function, and tenancy.” She added it “is poised to be Maricopa’s first job-center/business-park destination that also offers a place to house historically significant components, like a museum. It’s easily accessible with room to grow and lots to offer.”

Maricopa is also heavily invested in the under-construction overpass that will re-create midtown. Smith sees an interesting future coming to the Heritage District that involves Estrella Gin property.

“It would be great to have a nice, historical-looking building that serves as a train depot, café and historical museum by the railroad tracks,” she said. “Close to this building is the pedestrian overpass that allows both communities north and south of the tracks to safely cross the railroad tracks, especially for the high school students who currently cross there.”


  • The area now called Pacana Park was acquired in 2006 for $1.8 million. It was 18 acres. In 2008, the City acquired 10 acres for $700,000 to expand Pacana Park to the south.
  • In 2007, the City – with its municipal fire department taking over for the Maricopa Volunteer Fire Department – purchased scattered pieces of property of 1-3 acres each for future fire stations. The stations have been built on Porter Road, Edison Road, Bowlin Road and Alterra Parkway. There remains one parcel lying well outside the city boundaries but in the middle of Maricopa’s future planning area. What is listed as the Stanfield Site is a one-acre, vacant lot on Pepper Place in Hidden Valley Estates. It was acquired for $10,000 on a quitclaim deed, costing the city nothing, and the council has started discussions of disposing of it.
  • The city acquired the building for the current Maricopa Public Library in 2009 with a sale price of $1.9 million, according to county records.
  • In 2010, Maricopa paid $3 million for a strip of land along the Santa Rosa Wash east of White and Parker Road and south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Vincent Manfredi is a minority owner in InMaricopa.

This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.


“We are going to run into some problems in the future.”

Maricopa Development Services Director Martin Scribner was talking to the Planning & Zoning Commission last month after a presentation on development patterns. The report by planner Ryan Wozniak, “Maricopa: The Living Experiment,” red-flagged problems in land-use productivity and heavy reliance on vehicles.

“Residents spend 61 percent on housing and transportation,” Wozniak said. “That’s higher than the rest of the county.”

He said explosive growth comes with explosive cost. “There is nothing magical about infrastructure.”

With streets currently “too wide” to create pedestrian-friendly business areas and ongoing development sprawl across several acres, Maricopa may need course correction, Wozniak said. “The more you accommodate vehicles, the more you spread out,” Wozniak said. “The less you accommodate, the more people are accepting.”

Without a lot of Arizona examples to help guide Maricopa’s development plan, “We’re trying to identify the crack when it’s been broken,” he said.

In a later interview, City Manager Rick Horst gave an example. “A developer comes in, he builds a new subdivision, he turns over roads to us. In governmental accounting, we call that an asset. Anywhere else it would be called a liability because it just has future dollars tied to it. But we have to have roads. The question is, ‘How do we best utilize our assets, our infrastructure, to capitalize and serve the people the best?’”

Commissioner Michael Sharpe said that was one of the frustrations of Maricopa’s current development model. “We’re just a bedroom community designed around the automobile. It’s going to be tough to course-correct aggressively.”

Horst had encouraged Wozniak’s initiative in gathering the information and asked him to present the information to city departments.

The report showed potential property tax per acre on the same size property developed differently.

1-story residential $4,007
2-story mixed use $32,542
3-story mixed use $44,775

“For instance,” Horst said, “you can have a mile of road that services 100,000 square feet of retail, which brings in a lot of revenue to the city to support Public Safety, Parks & Rec and all those things. Or it can support 100 acres of forest that’s in a nonprofit reserve, for which you get nothing. Is a road too wide when it should be more narrow? Is it a road to nowhere? We have to begin to think about that.”

The research also highlighted long-term development successes in other cities in other areas, from Louisiana to Italy. Wozniak said their experience showed “small interventions add up to different results.”

Horst said current housing stock does not meet the circle-of-life needs of everyone in the city. “We kind of have one level of housing stock. What about the seniors when the kids leave home and they’re empty nesters? What about when one spouse passes? We don’t have apartments; we don’t have more affordable work-force housing, which is our school teachers, the police officers, the firefighters. Those are all the things we need to think about to be a well-rounded, purposeful city.”

The decision to change course or not could have “political ramifications long-term for some,” Scribner said, indicating a future impact on the city council and P&Z.

“It will take an attitude shift across the board.”

This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

DR Horton was granted an amendment to its planned area development in lots 1 and 8 in Tortosa for coverage increase.

Chop Block & Brew opened Aug. 7 at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino with dining and a lounge. It seats 159 and serves lunch and dinner.

In a capital-improvement project, Fire Station 574 received a permit for installation of new evaporative system in the bay at a cost of $100,000.

Walmart made interior alterations to replace fitting rooms and relocate an apparel fixture and added power to the fitting rooms. The project was valued at $20,000.

Suite D8 of Maricopa Fiesta at 20924 N. John Wayne Parkway, a former veterinarian office, received a permit to be modified into an open white shell at a cost of $32,000. The required demolition also received a permit.

The overpass project on State Route 347 at the Union Pacific Railroad tracks received a hauling permit. Ames Construction is the primary contractor.

Community of Hope Church applied to install a new fire alarm system at 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.

True Grit received a general fire inspection for a planned bike event in September that may include a beer garden.

DRH Construction received a permit to turn a home garage into a sales office at 36878 W. Maddaloni Ave. in Sorrento.

Cobblestone Fiesta Center, Sorrento and the City of Maricopa all received permits for new signs. Burger King opened its doors at 20699 N. John Wayne Parkway. Along with Ross Dress for Less and Great Clips at The Wells received permits for temporary banners.

Verizon and AT&T received zoning permits to modify existing cell towers.

This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

The last five months of the fiscal year showed steady growth in Maricopa’s business activity. The city reaped more than $1 million each month from January through June and easily outpaced last year February through June. City Finance Director Brenda Hasler said that coincided with construction and the opening of more retail outlets. Edison Pointe, in particular, boasted new builds and six new openings to generate more sales tax for the city.

In fiscal year 2017-18 (Graph 1 in green), Maricopa took in $12.5 million in transaction privilege tax, often called sales tax. The previous fiscal year, the total was $11.2 million. Retail and construction continue to be the city’s highest earners.

As shown in Graph 2, the FY18 total is the highest for Maricopa since before the recession. The city has a way to go before returning to those money-generating highs. In FY08, the city collected $18.7 million in sales tax.


This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.