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January Friday Morning Breakfast

Posted By Heather Garbarino, Monday, February 4, 2019


Going with the flow


Water vital to the future of the Valley development industry

A looming drought on the Colorado River could spell disaster for not only residents of Arizona but for the development community as well.

Arizona lawmakers voted to approve a plan outlining how the state would share cuts with other Western states and Native American tribes.  This meets the Bureau of Reclamation Jan. 31 deadline to make a deal or else it will step in make the needed cuts to stop Lake Mead’s water level from plunging.

The Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) was the topic of January’s Friday Morning Breakfast. Valley Partnership is playing a key role on behalf of the development community led by President and CEO Cheryl Lombard.

The discussion focused on three major topics:

>> How will the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan help the Colorado River and Lake Mead?

>> How will responsible development and the need for critical infrastructure investment take place in the Johnson Utilities service area with EPCOR as the interim water manager?

>> What is the future of the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) and how do tribal communities like the Gila River Indian Community help address our state’s water shortage? 

Valley Partnership assembled the key players in all of the state’s water discussions to map out how potential agreements on water will affect the development industry and what must be done to properly manage and deliver clean, reliable water to Arizonans now and into the future.

The panel included Tom Buschatzke, Director, Arizona Department of Water Resources; Ted Cooke, General Manager, Central Arizona Water Conservation District; Stephen Roe Lewis, Governor, Gila River Indian Community; and Joe Gysel, President, EPCOR, USA.



“Water is an important economic development tool,” Lombard said in her opening remarks as moderator. “Valley Partnership’s position is that we have been engaged with all the stakeholders the past few years. Recently we have represented the interests of our development members in accordance with our advocacy.”


Valley Partnership crafted an overview of guiding principles to evaluate the DCP in order to protect and sustain Arizona’s maximum Colorado River water supply. Some included:

>> Promoting a vibrant and growing economy while maintain good stewardship of our water;


>> Protecting Arizona’s Colorado River allotment and the state’s ability to effectively manage the allotment;


>> Supporting local jurisdictions and industry in their reasonable and cost-effective efforts to address critical infrastructure needs;


>> Supporting the creation and use of long-term storage credits to allow flexible management of water resources necessary to achieve the goals state above.


“Ted and I have been at the legislature working on key legislative elements of the importance of this plan for Arizona. Everyone has been working hard to assist in implantation of the DCP,” Buschatzke said.


Said Gov. Lewis: “Cheryl (Lombard) has been a great spokesperson and advocate on the steering committee for your interests. These have been some very difficult discussions, but she has brought her concerns to the forefront.”




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December Friday Morning Breakfast Blog

Posted By Heather Garbarino, Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Grant Woods 2018:

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

His predictions from last year were spot on. His humor was wry. He even announced winning ticket numbers for the holiday wreath raffle.


As the guest speaker at the December Valley Partnership Friday Morning Breakfast, Grant Woods once again left the room laughing and gasping. In the end, though, he received a standing ovation.


This year Woods shared some poignant and bittersweet memories of his long-time friend and mentor Sen. John McCain, who passed away in August.

“He (Sen. McCain) knew there were a lot of big issues facing our country and state,” Woods said. “He was willing to listen, and work both sides of the aisle to find a solution. The outpouring of emotions after he passed was a tremendous tribute to the man.

“I fear that maybe the days of great patriots and statesmen like him are over. He was always a fighter,” Woods said.


About those 2018 predictions:

“I did pretty well,” he said with a laugh. “I predicted a blue wave. I predicted Kyrsten Simena would be our next U.S. Senator. And I predicted our sports team would still have some issues.”


His prediction for 2019: “Things will only get worse for Donald Trump.”


Woods’ parting words took a more serious tone: “Stand up for what’s under attack. Don’t remain silent. This project called America is just that. There’s no guarantee what’s going to happen in the future. The opposite of hope is cynicism. Don’t let cynicism influence your life.”


Woods was introduced by longtime friend and Valley banking executive Paul Hickman.


The December breakfast got off to a rousing start as Dena Jones officially wrapped up the 2018 Community Project, this year benefiting Sunshine Acres in Mesa, with a video.


Happy holidays to all of our partners. See you in 2019.


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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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October Friday Morning Breakfast

Posted By Heather Garbarino, Thursday, November 8, 2018

Smart cities, infrastructure, and development



‘Internet of Things’ key to planning future of urban development



As technology changes, so does the vernacular as we talk about the future of our cities.


Among the key phrase are smart cities, smart infrastructure, smart development, and the Internet of things (IoT).

“Good things are happening in our society economically. You are in a way the economic infrastructure of this community. Permitting. Growth plans. Our community is a major exporter. I’ve seen the angst: how do you finance the next generation of infrastructure. How do you build enough bandwidth? Part of the debate is technology.”


If you know anything about Arizona Congressman David Schweikert, you know he is tech savvy. That’s why he was the perfect moderator (his words above) for Valley Partnership’s October Friday Morning Breakfast topic, “Smart Cities, Smarter Infrastructure, and Smarter Development.


The October breakfast featured industry leaders who discussed the need for cities to invest in IoT-friendly infrastructure, the value of communities collecting and sharing data with residents to improve their quality of life, and how real estate development plays a role in it.


As urban development and infrastructure continue to evolve in the era of Uber, Waymo, and other IoT-friendly apps, forward-looking cities are emphasizing the need to integrate smart apps with roads and infrastructure as they build for the future. The future of smart urban development depends on tech leaders partnering with government leaders to build a smarter infrastructure for the next generation.


“When you’re talking IoT, you’re talking about connecting things to the Internet,” said Josh Kosar, Director of Technology Development at Sensagrate. “Traffic lights. Your home. You. Your phone. Essentially everything can be an IoT device. This will have an effect on smart cities. They are all little pieces of the puzzle. They will change lives. We will need economic growth to drive that technological change.”


When asked by Congressman Schweikert what technology the panelists see coming to Arizona, Brian Kearney, Senior Vice President, Catellus, didn’t hesitate to chime in. Catellus is developing the Novus Innovation Corridor at Arizona State University’s main campus in Tempe.

“This is a very interesting time to be building a community from scratch,” Kearney said. “It is so difficult to predict the future of technology and what its impact on our cities. Decisions made today will affect the communities of tomorrow. It will be all about connected systems. Connected automobiles.”


Kumar Balasubramanian, General Manager, IOT Solutions with Intel, said it will all come down to what makes our lives better. “What will help us? Tell us what it is. This is technology in its most practical form. We will be seeing a lot of that in the next two years.”


The panelists were in agreement that it will take buy in from all levels of government for smart cities to thrive. This also includes the non-profit sector and institutions of higher education.


“We’re partnering with the local municipalities,” said Bobby Gray, ASU’s Director of Digital Transformation. “ASU is smart. It makes no sense if Tempe has technology infrastructure and across the street (in Phoenix) there isn’t. That has to be practical standards we can take from one to the other. We must develop a long-term plan in which municipalities work outside their borders.”


Safety is one factor that can benefit from smart technology, the panel suggested.

“We are in the early days of smart cities,” Gray said. “There is no playbook. No percentages. We are really forging that data now. We have to be flexible and look forward.”


Kosar agreed.

“We need to push these ideas forward,” he said. “We need a quorum. There are things the city and state can do that will directly help with that. We need a place to get together and discuss that. It’s something that needs to be bigger – a meeting of the minds between cities and state.”

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September - Friday Morning Breakfast

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Still hot...

It’s fall, but the Valley’s commercial real estate market is sizzling

More room to run. Office fundamentals in a good place. Rent growth in retail. Industrial uptick in delivery.


Those were just a few of the comments shared by panelists at the September Valley Partnership Friday Morning Breakfast. It was news that perhaps came a surprise. But it’s evident that commercial real estate in the Valley is on the upswing in a big way.


Moderator Chris Toci of Cushman & Wakefield took the sell-out audience for a ride across the Valley, asking why companies seeking out Phoenix and its surroundings markets. Is it more than the weather?  What are the hot spots? What is driving companies to come here? What is Arizona doing to land these new companies?

“Why is Phoenix hot?” Toci asked. “Are we on the edge of the abyss? Or is there more room to run?”


Michael Petrivelli, a market analyst with CoStar, provided answers.


“A key economic driver is job growth,” Petrivelli said. “During the recession we were hit hard that you did have a lot of job growth to catch up on. Now it (job growth) is being fueled by population growth.”


Assessing how property types are doing across the Valley, he had this to say.


“Office fundamentals are in a really good place. Vacancy rates have tightened. There is an uptick in delivery of industrial products and vacancies are at all all-time low. Retail is doing well as household growth and income continue to climb.

“Overall, the picture looks good. We will see some of the strongest job growth through 2022,” he said.


The topic of co-working space produced some interesting thoughts. Asked if co-working startups are going to survive, Tiffany Winne, Executive Vice President with Savills Studley, said they are not.


“It is the most exciting industry in America today, and We-Work is the darling,” she said. “I would not put a dollar of my money in it. Although we don’t have WeWork here, I see a co-working glut.”


Job growth in the tech sector is key the Valley, according to Brad Smidt, Senior Vice President of Business Development for GPEC. Asked if his city is prepared for this tech economic boom, Bill Jabjiniak, Economic Development Director for Mesa, said an emphatic “yes.”


“For being one of the most conservative cities in the country, yes we do,” Jabjiniak said. “We have grown by more than 6,000 people and will be at about 534,000 in 5 years. All our tech employers tell us they have no trouble attracting talent. We have great universities, and the dynamic of real estate is changing.”


Supply and demand is also driving the Valley’s commercial real estate hot market.


“In terms of office, we’re see a flight to talent,” Petrivelli said. “There is young talent, and so much new construction in Tempe and Chandler. That’s where the highest concentration of talent is going. Infrastructure, specifically the loops 303 and 202, will have huge impacts on the industrial sector. We’re seeing retail construction in the faster growing areas such as Gilbert, Chandler, and Goodyear.”


“Yin and yang,” Toci remarked. “Tempe or Camelback Corridor?”

Winne said she doesn’t see any crossover.


“There is not a lot of tech friendly real estate office space on Camelback. They (clients) are looking to Tempe. That space is also increasing in downtown Phoenix.”


Winning submarkets in the Valley? Deer Valley and Gilbert, Smidt said. USAA is adding to its already expansive operation in North Phoenix. Deloitte is opening a 102,000 SF U.S. delivery center in Gilbert.


Jabjiniak said it’s companies such as EdgeCore, which recently broke ground on a $150 million, 180,000 SF date center in Mesa, that are selecting his Southeast Valley city.



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August Friday Morning Breakfast

Posted By Heather Garbarino, Friday, September 14, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

Residential Development: The Times Are "A Changin"


A popular industry saying goes, “Retail follows rooftops.” The Valley’s motto could well be: “Retail and office and industrial follow rooftops.”


With the Great Recession and the bursting of the housing bubble in the rearview mirror, the Valley’s homebuilding industry is on solid footing once again. Valley Partnership’s August Friday Morning Breakfast featured a panel whose companies combined have accounted for 17 percent of homes sold in the past 30 days.


They included Greg Abrams, Vice President, Land Acquisitions, Planning & Entitlements, PulteGroup; Jeff GundersonSenior Vice President of Land Acquisition, Lennar; Ryan Huffman, Executive Vice President of OperationsRichmond American;  and Dennis Webb, Vice President, Fulton Homes. Moderating was Jim Belfiore, President, Belfiore Real Estate Consulting.


This spring, homebuilders sold more than in any spring in more than a decade. In the process, new home prices are finally appreciating. Part of the recipe for this slow but successful recovery is the addition of the “turnkey” product by multiple builders bringing the first-time and returning homeowners back to the market.


In referring to turnkey homes – either spec housing or ready-to-go custom homes – to each builder it means something different.


“We have always been a strong spec builder,” Webb said. “We can deliver in 30 to 60 days the buyers still have options they can add. Our upgrades are among the highest in the country. These are not yesterday’s floor plans. These are new communities; mini masterplans.”


Richmond American is typically not a spec builder, Huffman said. Its turnkey segment highlights customization for what a home buyer might want.


“Most of our business is driven by entry level or move up buyers,” Huffman said. “These are people all waiting the last few years to get back into the market. It’s now moving faster. Our Seasons collection is a good example. Those homes include spec level features.”


Lennar has a much different vision, Gunderson said. That homebuilder takes the “everything-included approach.”


“For 20 years our philosophy has been to really try to understand our customers,” he said. “This allows us to operate more efficiently. You can get exactly what you want in a house for that price. This gives us a good understanding of who our buyer is.”


With his company one of the bigger builders in the Valley, Abrams said the strategy at PulteGroup is to manage production levels in its communities.


“The big thing is maintaining a consistent work schedule,” Abrams said. “We know when they (construction crews) leave. We build a consumer-inspired planned community. We make sure they are selection the product and options they really desire. This comes from a lot of national research and focus groups. It is something you can really see in our homes.”


Options have moved beyond pools and kitchen appliance upgrades to RV garages and luxury packages. Infill locations are becoming extremely popular. And yes, labor woes continue be an issue.


Still, the panelists remain upbeat.


“We’re all bringing in more buyers,” Webb said. “It’s a busy market.”



The August breakfast wrapped up with special guest speaker U.S. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema. Photo courtesy of SRP.


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JULY 2018

Posted By Heather Garbarino, Monday, August 6, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2018

“Go West … Developers!”


Connecting to the West Valley by staying in the Loop

Little did American newspaper editor Horace Greeley know when he penned the famous quote “Go West, young man” that it would also be the rallying cry for a Metro Phoenix regional corridor ready to witness incredible growth.


For years, the Loop 303 freeway was a dream of the West Valley. Its opening in October 2017 has already started to change the development patterns in its wake. Even before that, most thought the South Mountain Loop 202 would never come to fruition. Today, construction is well under way with a late 2019 anticipated opening.


These much-anticipated transportation corridors connecting the West Valley to the Southeast Valley are quickly becoming a reality. Panelists at the July Friday Morning Breakfast shared their views of the West Valley’s future with a full house at Phoenix Country Club.

Moderating the event was Greg Vogel, Founder/CEO, Land Advisors. The panel comprised Lori Collins, Deputy Director, City of Phoenix; Megan Creecy-Herman, Vice President, Liberty Property Trust; Tony Lydon, Managing Director, JLL; and Cathy Thuringer, Principal, Trammell Crow Company.  

“I started some 31 years ago in the far West Valley and worked my way in because that’s when Interstate 10 was being completed from Los Angeles,” Vogel said. “Also, 1985 was when the first half cent sales tax was passed. It enabled us to get ahead in transportation.

“The tables shifted to the East where there was more clout, money, and strong lobbying efforts. The 202 and 303 got shorted. But you can’t build freeways anywhere now. The West Valley is open,” Vogel said.


The Valley’s population growth has been the key to its development growth, Vogel said. In 1985, there were 1.5 million people living here. Today, the Metro Phoenix population is just shy of 5 million at 4.9 million. The Valley’s growth, Vogel said, has now shifted to the West Valley.


“This growth cycle is one that is really exciting,” Thuringer said. “It’s more ordered, more measured, more diverse, and not as frenzied as 2005 and 2006. The economic base is very encouraging. Economic development entities are really involved.”


Lydon said a “silver bullet” in the West Valley’s toolbox is its Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) designation. Other factors bolstering the West Valley’s standing, he said, include infrastructure, and capital investment in infrastructure.


“I agree that this cycle is more measured,” Creecy-Herman said. “The last cycle was overbooked, and pretty aggressive. The numbers now seem to be broad-based in the midsize industrial product, from 50,000 square and up. All the sizes are being delivered. We’ve been about 200 to 250 deals a year in that size. We need those to grow the market.”


Thuringer said Phoenix industrial space is highly sought after with a lot of large capital players in the gateway markets. “It’s a better investment,” she said.


“As a region, we paid for sins the past,” Lydon said. “Now we have dynamic consumption and trade. We have a great relationship with Mexico. We’ve already seen the manufacturing sector improve by 30 to 40 percent. The next step is to begin to design and build for the mid-size users.”


The West Valley is key when competing against other regions, Collins said. “Roughly 85 percent are looking for ready space,” she said.

New product or ready space? Obsolescence is a hot topic, one that bodes well for the West Valley, Lydon said.


“There are great opportunities for those older buildings,” he said. “Three important words: Last mile fulfillment. This is key for distribution in dense urban areas. Older product is being converted to LMF.”


When it comes to significant anchors in the West Valley, panelists pointed to the region’s higher education entities, Grand Canyon University and Midwestern University. Lydon said a German pharmaceutical firm toured the Southeast Valley and Sky Harbor submarkets but decided on the West Valley.


“Midwestern has a robust pharmacy school,” Lydon said. “That was important to them.”


What will benefit from growth in the West Valley? Lydon’s list includes e-commerce, food and beverage, manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, data centers, education, workforce, infrastructure, the FTZ, and executive housing.


“The workforce is heading West,” Lydon said. “This is going to be a much different West Valley 24 to 36 months from now.”


Added Collins: “Phoenix has a good transportation system. Once the 202 opens it will be great. There are not many cities we compete against that can boast a 22-mile strip of freeway opening. It will be a great new gateway.”


2018 Valley Partnership Community Project revealed

Sunshine Acres Children’s Home in Mesa was announced as the recipient of the 2018 Community Project. Partners transformed an underutilized parcel of land into a vibrant fitness park and recreation area in 2016. Valley Partnership is returning to Mesa on Nov. 3. Please join us.







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