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November Friday Morning Breakfast Blog

Posted By Heather Garbarino, Monday, December 3, 2018

 

Dirt, dollars, and development


FMB panelists share vision for utilizing 9.2M acres of State Trust land

 

Just as talk of Arizona’s water supply fills the pools of discussion around the Valley and state, what to do with our 9.2 million acres of land in the State Trust and the Arizona State Land Department’s plan is just as big a part of the conversation.

 

The November Valley Partnership Friday Morning Breakfast featured two experts on the topic of land: Lisa Atkins, Commissioner, Arizona State Land Department; and Wesley Mehl, Deputy Commissioner, Arizona State Land Department. Moderating was Grady Gammage Jr., Founding Member, Gammage & Burnham as well as Honorary Board of Director for Valley Partnership.

 

Land, one of Arizona's most important resources, continues to be a topic of great debate among state and national policy leaders. Arizona holds 9.2 million acres of land in its State Trust and the Arizona State Land Management plans. How to best utilize this asset is at the forefront of discussions.

 

“This presents a great opportunity for us,” Atkins said. “That after 100 years after statehood we have this great asset. It is intended to be a huge contributor to the state’s future. Of the utmost importance is how we see the immediate benefit. It has to be there for the next generation of entrepreneurs. Of building our buildings, and expanding our horizons as a state.”

 

Responsible development, enhancing revenue production and establishing careful environmental protections are all part of the strategic approach taken by the Land Department as stewards of Arizona’s land. With Arizona's population continuing to grow and legislators searching for new, dependable revenue sources, the discussion of how to best use state land will likely continue to for years.

 

“Sales are going up, and revenue is up,” Mehl said about recent sales. “For the Trust, last year we sold $175 million of dirt. This year we think we will get up to $300 million. A lot of Phoenix infill has sold in the past six to eight months.”

 

Mehl also discussed the state leasing some of its land. In some circumstances, he said, leasing is a good tool.

“In the past, leasing land made sense; we had money,” Mehl said. “But we were getting beat up by inflation. There was some reform in 2002 and it helped diversify (selling vs. leasing).

 

Mehl said he predicts there will be incremental changes coming soon. He mentioned about 30 changes spanning the entire operation, including its effect on real estate.

 

“Some include rolling options, value-in packages, online auctions, and a due diligence fund,” Mehl said.

 

 

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