ANDREW HOLM, ABR, CDPF, eCertified
The Holm Group Scottsdale
Office: 480.767.2738 Cell:480.206.4265
Email: andrew@theholmgroupaz.com

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AZ Central – Real estate putting Arizona back on Wall Street’s radar

Arizona is becoming more relevant in the stock market again, thanks largely to real estate.
The number of public corporations headquartered in Arizona is growing for the first time in three years, helped by a spate of initial public offerings — including two so far this month.
Is it the start of a trend? That’s hard to say. There hasn’t been much of an overall spike lately in the number of U.S. companies selling shares for the first time despite a relentless climb for the stock market — the type of bullish backdrop that normally drives the new-issue market.
But the two recent deals and a third in April have boosted Arizona’s flagging list of public companies.
Those three new players come in addition to three other Arizona IPOs in 2012 and the relocation of a homebuilder to Arizona from Florida.
The Arizona public-company count will rise further if Sprouts Farmers Markets goes ahead with an IPO for which it filed preliminary papers late last week. The Phoenix-based chain, which has more than 150 natural/organic grocery stores spread across eight Southwestern states, is seeking to raise up to $300 million.
Add it all up, and it might help to soften the blow of US Airways’ pending corporate relocation from Tempe to Texas as well as the 2012 acquisitions of Scottsdale’s Medicis Pharmaceutical and JDA Software by out-of-state companies.
Having a bunch of local public-company headquarters affects more than just bragging rights. Corporate suites also bring highly paid administrative jobs, more ties with ancillary businesses, a broader mix of local leaders and greater support for charities in the area.
Communities benefit from an economic-development perspective, but potential investors in these companies should be cautious, especially as the stock market generally becomes more expensive as it continues to hit new highs.
American Residential Properties, which Thursday sold $288 million worth of shares in an IPO, is the state’s newest public company. With the addition of seven public corporations over the past 12 months, that gives the state 45, according to an Arizona Republic tally, after subtracting US Airways, Medicis and JDA Software, all of which continue to have operations here.
The recent activity gives Arizona a growing concentration of real-estate companies with shares trading in the stock market. Scottsdale homebuilder Taylor Morrison Home Corp. went public in April in the nation’s fourth-largest IPO for the year to date.
Including homebuilder Meritage Homes and Cavco Industries, which builds prefabricated housing, eight of the state’s 45 public companies have a real-estate slant. The list also includes Scottsdale-based Healthcare Trust of America, a large owner of medical-office buildings that went public in June, and InnSuites Hospitality Trust, which operates hotels.
The Arizona public-company count will rise further if Sprouts Farmers Markets goes ahead with an IPO for which it filed preliminary papers late last week. The Phoenix-based chain of more than 150 grocery stories spread across the eight Southwestern states is seeking to raise up to $300 million.
Three of the newer Arizona public companies — American Residential Properties, Healthcare Trust and Spirit Realty Capital — are real-estate investment trusts, or REITs. So is InnSuites Hospitality Trust. These entities don’t face corporate income taxes as long as they pay out nearly all of their income, 90 percent or more, as dividends. That explains why REITs offer higher yields than most stocks.
Unlike bond interest payments, dividends often rise over time as a company grows — another advantage. However, REIT dividends received by shareholders generally are taxable, even if the payments aren’t at the company level. Also, dividends can be cut.
Shares of Healthcare Trust last week were yielding 4.4 percent, highest among Arizona’s public companies.
A steady appetite among investors for dividend-paying stocks explains why some of these companies have been selling shares on Wall Street for the first time.
Renaissance Capital of Greenwich, Conn., reports that dividend-paying stocks represented 45 percent of all IPOs in the first quarter — the highest proportion since mid-2008. IPOs typically are fast-growing startups that don’t pay dividends but instead entice investors with the potential for lofty capital gains down the road, so the recent income focus is a switch.
Investment adviser Harry Papp of L. Roy Papp & Associates in Phoenix views IPOs with skepticism and, in particular, cautions investors not to get mesmerized by yields.
“With REITS, utilities and other high-dividend stocks, a lot of people are chasing yield,” he said. “In general, we think REITs are awfully expensive.”
Rather than IPOs, Papp prefers to buy shares in corporations after they have been trading awhile.
The recent influx of public companies is good news for Arizona, though the heavy concentration of real-estate firms might be a mixed blessing. If the state wants to diversify its economy more to mitigate those sharp cyclical real-estate swings, it would be nice to see more banks, consumer-products companies, manufacturers or other types of companies set up headquarters here.
Stephen Barnes of Barnes Investment Advisory in Phoenix cites the increase in real-estate companies, especially IPOs, as a sign that properties aren’t the screaming deals they had been fairly recently.
“These companies weren’t selling shares when their assets were cheap,” Barnes said. “We might have passed the best point to buy in this cycle.”


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AZ Central – Phoenix plans to smooth road for infill projects

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Phoenix officials plan to upgrade the city’s permit system and overhaul portions of its zoning ordinances, which could help the city bolster infill development.
In addition, the City Council last week approved the creation of an advisory group that will create a pilot program to offer “relief and incentive for infill development,” city officials said.
Planning officials say there’s demand now to develop on the city’s old lots either by renovating buildings or constructing new ones.
Cindy Stotler, planning and development’s assistant director, said there could be a variety of reasons for the uptick — maybe people don’t want to drive so far because of high gas prices, maybe the infrastructure costs more on the outskirts, maybe light rail has made the urban areas more attractive.
“People want to live in town and live the urban lifestyle,” she said.
The department doesn’t keep statistics on interest in infill, but staffers noticed the growing demand starting in 2010, said Derek Horn, planning and development’s acting director.
“There’s a lot of work we can do in urban areas,” Stotler said. “One of the things we want to do is promote broken development in areas where we made investment in light rail. And, also, we have existing infrastructure. So, we don’t have to leapfrog development and build new waterlines.”
Leapfrog development happens when developers build on the fringes of existing communities, “leapfrogging” over existing land that can be developed.
Developers historically are hesitant to undertake infill projects because they can be cumbersome, Stotler said. Neighbors can cause roadblocks. Investors see hassles and smaller rates of return. Permitting and zoning take longer.
“If you (redesign) a lot to change the lot lines, all these new rules and regulations kick in, sometimes making your lot unfeasible and making your project not pencil out,” Stotler said. “It costs more money. You never know what you are going to find when you dig in the street. This size waterline, that size waterline.”
Infill recommendations
The City Council endorsed ideas to spur infill development and smooth the building process overall:
City officials will select advisory-group members. The panel will make recommendations to the council later this year.
The city will ask the advisory panel to identify barriers that cause developers to bypass potential infill opportunities, Horn said. Infill has advantages such as access to existing public services like schools, utility lines, police and fire.
The advisory panel would consist of developers, design professionals and neighborhood representatives.
Phoenix wants to upgrade its permitting system. The department plans to spend as much as $3.5 million on a software program that would allow access to plan reviews, remote inspections, planning cases, historic-preservation processes and permits.
Workers would be able to use smartphones and tablets with the software program, officials said. This process would reduce the time it takes to issue a permit, Horn said.
When people apply for a permit today, they submit an application on paper and must appear in person downtown, Horn said.
Planning officials would like to overhaul the city’s zoning ordinances.
City officials want to combine related chapters to reduce inconsistencies and streamline uses in certain zoning districts, said Alan Stephenson, planning and development’s acting deputy director.
Reaction
Several people who deal with the city often on development issues said they like what they hear so far.
Paul Johnson, a former city mayor who has been building since he was a teenager, said it’s quicker to get a building permit to construct something outside of Phoenix.
A permit in a suburban city might take six months, but one in Phoenix can take as long as 18 months, Johnson said.
He offers advice to Phoenix: “How do you keep the infrastructure low? How do you create cool, hip places along light rail in the city? Reduce the amount of time to get them done. If it’s not done in time, the market will go somewhere else because it is more efficient.”
Phoenix already has been fast-tracking its process for building-plan reviews and inspections by expanding a self-certification program that allows architects and structural engineers to review their own building plans to ensure that they comply with city code.
Once building plans are submitted through the program, a permit is guaranteed within 24 hours.
David Wetta of Wetta Ventures LLC bought a 2-month-old vacant lot on the northwestern corner of Osborn Road and Seventh Street. The site once housed the Bethel Methodist Church congregation, which had a church and school buildings dating to the late 1800sand 1940s.
The project, called “Old School 07,” is an example of adaptive reuse, — renovating existing buildings — and an urban-infill project.
The property will have three stand-alone facilities that will house a Z’Tejas restaurant, retail stores and a Starbucks.
Wetta said they had to do a lot of work to prepare the site that they might not have done on a new build: removing asbestos, clearing out materials from an unexpected basement, and replacing the aging sewer and water system.
“Surprises translate into extra time and money,” Wetta said. “The beauty of it is, you take the church building, you reinvent the building. You end up with the history of the old building and make that important connection to the past and you bring it up to code. It can work, and it takes a lot more patience.”
The developer said he received a permit in less than four months, which he attributes to thorough planning. However, he, too, offers advice to Phoenix.
“The zoning code and the building code have not been updated to deal with the unique issues and challenges of infill sites,” Wetta said. “We must implement changes now. My concern is that if the codes aren’t revised soon, important opportunities will be lost.”
Longtime Valley zoning attorney Paul Gilbert said he has faced another challenge with infill projects: Many of the zoning records are old and confusing.
“Sometimes, the (property) records are incomplete,” Gilbert said. “It takes a lot more time to research to know what restrictions you have on the property. There are so many overlay zoning districts that it’s very confusing.”
Stotler understands the challenges.
One step at a time, she said.


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AZ Central – After recession, Downtown Scottsdale’s SouthBridge now ‘golden area’

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Joy Li, a fashion designer originally from New York, opened her boutique five years ago at downtown Scottsdale’s SouthBridge, just as the economy slipped into recession.
“It was very, very tough because you had to have faith in knowing that this was going to get built up,” she said. “It was a learning experience to build a business by yourself when everyone else around you is disappearing.”
The four-building restaurant and retail complex along the south side of the Arizona Canal was hard hit by the recession, as numerous merchants were forced out of business.
Studio Joy Li; Amy inc., a fashion boutique; and the Garage Boutique for Kids were the first and only remaining original tenants of the Mix Shops at SouthBridge, along Stetson Drive.
“No one else is from the beginning,” said Fred Unger, SouthBridge developer. “All the restaurants failed.”
Today, the SouthBridge district, the commercial triangle bordered by Stetson, Sixth Avenue and Scottsdale Road, is a very different picture. The neighborhood is bustling with thriving independent merchants.
The district includes about 40 tenants. It includes such restaurants as Mercellino Ristorante, Barrio Queen, Herb Box and Tapas Papa Frita.
“SouthBridge is now 99 percent leased and we have strong interest in the two small vacant spaces,” Unger said. “In the entire district, we have only three small vacant spaces. It’s never been that good.”
Li said the new merchants and activity are an encouraging sign.
“It’s nice to see new merchants that take pride and passion in the product they’re offering or the service, vs. the big guys who are just funded by a lot of money, but not caring about product and people,” she said. “It’s very interesting to watch it grow and who comes in.”
Latest arrivals
Classic Cakes and Confectionsis preparing to open in the Mix Shops. The company has been in business about seven years and its commercial kitchen is at 32nd Street and Shea Boulevard.
“This will be our retail location,” said Lisa Levinson, a co-owner. “We love the area, we love the people around here.”
The business provides special-order cakes, pies and pastries, and is now open to walk-in service in its retail location.
“We do a lot of big wedding cakes and things for the resorts, like the Phoenician Resort, the Arizona Biltmore, the Montelucia Resort and Spa and Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa,” said Neil Levinson, co-owner. “We feel Old Scottsdale needs a good bakery.”
Also at SouthBridge, Twist has just opened its first high-end salon in Arizona. It has two other salons, in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.
“We came to Scottsdale because they told us the most beautiful women were living in Scottsdale, so we came in to enhance their beauty,” said Oliver Ifergan, the owner. “I think SouthBridge was a great asset to us because you already have so many cool stores and we wanted to be part of that, part of the experience of coming here.”
Ifergan plans to open five Twist salons in Phoenix-Scottsdale, and the SouthBridge location already is successful, he said.
Also on the second floor, Pearl MedSpa opened in late October offering plastic surgery and advanced aesthetic treatments in a spa environment. This is its first location outside Portland, Ore.
“We saw the opportunity to enter into the market with the increasing population in the area, and we want to provide the finest experience and the highest-quality service,” said Carol Robbins, Pearl MedSpa’s CEO. “We plan to make a major impact at SouthBridge and Scottsdale.”
Wedding headquarters
Merchants in SouthBridge want to corner the bridal market by offering one-stop shopping for all wedding needs. The second floor of SouthBridge includes four stores in one — the Flower Studio, Destiny’s Bride, De Noce Ferrer/Amy Mancuso Events and Savvi by Mr. Formal.
Lisa Daversa, owner of Destiny’s Bride, moved her business about a year ago to SouthBridge from the Borgata of Scottsdale. That shopping center is set to be replaced with a condominium complex.
“This whole thing was empty,” she said. “Fred asked me to come here and put together a couture wedding experience, and I told him about bringing other vendors who were all related to that, so that a customer could come here for almost everything. This is where young women go to pick fine wedding gowns and it has that sort of level.”
De Noce Ferrer, which specializes in designer bridal evening shoes and handbags, opened in October and is owned by Amy Mancuso, who also runs her wedding/event planning business.
“I love the area, I love the Waterfront,” she said. “I love the vision that they’re trying to bring for the shops here now and into the future,” she said. “This is the golden area down here for Scottsdale.”
Surviving and thriving
Katie Wilson, owner of the Garage, was the original tenant in the Mix Shops and has survived while other children’s boutiques have closed in Scottsdale. She relocated her business from the Borgata.
Surviving the recession meant making small changes in her business to appeal to more customers.


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Sierra Reserve is Lyle Anderson’s smallest project, but the developer still finds he’s in

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The developer who invented the concept of upscale living around world-class golf courses in Scottsdale three decades ago is now building on one of the last residential parcels in the northeast Valley city.
Lyle Anderson plans to build 250 custom homes and a resort on 223 acres next to the Golf Club Scottsdale. Plans for the community, called Sierra Reserve, began to take shape at the height of the housing boom and have evolved in the years since. The community at Dynamite Road and 118th Street is Anderson’s smallest development so far, and his first since 2008.
In November of that year, his longtime lender, the Bank of Scotland, ran into financial problems and took control of four of Anderson’s largest developments, including Superstition Mountain in Apache Junction. It’s taken some time for Anderson to weather the storm, but he is back on familiar ground.
Sierra Reserve is located between his first desert-style golf course community, the 860-acre Desert Highlands, and the 8,000-acre Desert Mountain, with its six Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses.
Sierra Reserve backs up to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve on land that has recovered from damage in the 23,000-acre Rio fire in 1996. He describes the project as a culmination of everything he has learned in his 30-plus-year career of building custom homes and upscale planned communities in resort destinations from Hawaii to Scotland.
Anderson, who is 70, also said Sierra Reserve is not his last project.
A different approach
The custom-home process will be much different at Sierra Reserve, with more guidance and direction for buyers, Anderson said.
“Sierra Reserve will be the culmination of decades of learning what high-end homebuyers want,” said Anderson, who has owned the parcel since 2006. “We have been waiting for the right time to launch this project and have spent a lot of time doing our homework.”
Unlike at most other high-end residential developments, buyers won’t start with a blank slate. They’ll choose from 19 custom designs for single-family houses ranging from 3,000 to 6,100 square feet and costing $1.5 million to $2.5 million. Lots will range from 1/3 acre to 1/2 acre.
“We can promise buyers they can move in within seven to nine months, and they don’t have to worry about managing the process from thousands of miles away, cost overruns or the tile they picked not being in stock,” Anderson said. “I wouldn’t build my own custom home without the people I have around me now. It would make me crazy.”
A quiet period
Anderson is relishing the challenge of the new project as the housing market rebounds.
“During the downturn, everyone had to take a pause,” he said. “I never went into a financial abyss. I weathered the storm like others. I just wasn’t public about it.”
Anderson said he settled with the Bank of Scotland and sold his stakes in Superstition Mountain as well as in Hokuli’a on the island of Hawaii, Loch Lomond in Scotland and Las Campanas in Santa Fe.
“All the projects went forward and were completed, except Hokuli’a, which I am still involved in,” he said.
Anderson has always has a prominent group of investors. In the past, he partnered on projects with Texas’ Bass Brothers, Mobil Corp., Japan Airlines and Scottsdale-based DMB.
“Lyle Anderson is a pioneer in the development of golf communities set in extraordinary locations,” said Charley Freericks, president of DMB, which is developing Silverleaf and DC Ranch in north Scottsdale.
“To have Lyle returning to north Scottsdale, to his roots, and exploring a new format of desert community, is great news for Scottsdale and for the industry.”
Desert Highlands opened in the early 1980s and attracted many golfers and homeowners. It was considered one of the first high-end desert communities, meaning the development used the natural terrain and added little grass.
Anderson wanted to repeat his success in the desert but on a grander scale and bought the land for Desert Mountain for $45 million in 1985. He also brought the the PGA Seniors golf tournament, The Tradition, to the community.
In 1993, golfer and course designer Tom Weiskopf approached him about Loch Lomond. The golf club is built near Glasgow on 650 acres in the Scottish highlands that had been owned by an ancient Scottish clan for more than 800 years.
The first developer of Loch Lomond lost it to the Bank of Scotland. At Weiskopf’s urging, Anderson and investors that included DMB stepped in.
Anderson bought land near Apache Junction in the late 1980s and held onto it because of its views of the Superstition Mountains. In the mid-1990s, he launched Superstition Mountain on the site.
In the late 1990s, he began building Las Campanas in Santa Fe with two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses. The 1,550-acre Hokuli’a was tied up in litigation from 2000 to 2006, and Anderson couldn’t go forward with its development. He won the zoning lawsuit shortly before his lender ran into financial problems.
No golf course planned
Unlike Anderson’s past developments, Sierra Reserve won’t include a golf course. But it is next to the Golf Club Scottsdale. Homebuyers will be able to purchase a membership there for $25,000 to $50,000.
In Sierra Reserve, Anderson is making a 15,000-square-foot villa the central attraction , with amenities that include a spa, tennis courts, a lap pool, a cantina and a resident dining room with catering staff.
“People buy custom homes on 3-acre lots and think they want the solitude,” said Anderson. “But after a few years, many realize they want to be around people and be able to walk to places where they can socialize and exercise.”
One of Anderson’s investors in Sierra Reserve, Chuck Dubroff, bought a home in Desert Mountain 20 years ago.
“People want to move to Scottsdale, but they don’t have a lot of choice where they can buy a new home,” he said. “Lyle has always set the bar with his developments. I think its the right time for Sierra Reserve and buyers will come.”
He said to build a golf course at Sierra Reserve would cost an additional $60 million.
Construction on the community’s sales center and other early amenities is scheduled to start within a month.
The partners are also planning a eco-resort with up to 100 rooms. It will be on the north end of the site, backing the golf course. Anderson said the resort’s development is still in the planning stages, and so far the group isn’t looking for a hotel brand for it.
“Sierra Reserve is smaller, but it’s not easier to develop,” Anderson said. “We are trying to build a community with homes that will draw high-end buyers from other parts of the Valley, the country and the world.”


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AZ Central – CityCenter of City North sold

A deal to sell CityCenter of CityNorth, a mixed-use development near Desert Ridge in northeast Phoenix, was completed Monday night.

Scanlan Kemper Bard Companies, a real-estate private-equity firm based in Portland, Ore., and Wayzata Investment Partners, acquired the long-troubled development .

CityCenter of CityNorth includes 99 residential condominiums currently leased as apartments, 330,000 square feet of office space, 175,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and a six-level parking garage. The deal also includes nearly 5 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the development, which is north of Loop 101 and west of 56th Street.

“CityCenter of CityNorth is an extraordinary real-estate asset,” said Bob Scanlan, principal and CEO of Scanlan Kemper Bard, in a statement. “The price and quality of the mixed-use development were very attractive to our team, as is the opportunity to participate in the recovery of the Phoenix market.”

Phoenix leaders and residents once expected CityNorth, developed by Related Companies, to be a flagship luxury development for the region north of Loop 101 in northeast Phoenix. The project was completed in November 2008 but struggled during the recession, ultimately going into foreclosure in April 2010.

Since its inception, the development also was mired in legal troubles that raised questions about its ownership. Last July, a judge transferred CityNorth and master-developer rights to Gray Development Group.

Phoenix Councilman Jim Waring, whose district includes CityNorth, said he was cautiously optimistic.

“I do think the CityNorth project has a lot of potential — it started at just the wrong time,” Waring said. “I think this is the kind of group that maybe can turn things around. … Hopefully, this will stabilize the project that’s really had its troubles and it can get to what it was originally envisioned to be.”

The new owners plan to revamp CityCenter of CityNorth by attracting “entertainent-oriented retailers,” increasing occupancy by making rental rates more competitive, adding parking and making cosmetic improvements to the buildings, according to CityNorth spokeswoman Heather Austin.

The development is a part of the Desert Ridge master plan, about 50 percent complete. When finished, Desert Ridge is expected to include 50,000 residents and more than 8 million square feet of commercial space.


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AZ Central – Expert grades commercial real estate market sectors

Fri Apr  5, 2013  3:15 PM

Here’s an update on metro Phoenix’s commercial-real-estate market from Craig Henig, senior managing director of CBRE.

He offers a scorecard for each sector of the market and a take on the region’s appeal for companies looking to expand or relocate.

Industrial. Grade: B+

“The industrial market continues to see large distribution and manufacturing users looking at our market,” Henig said.

“This demand is currently being met with five speculative distribution buildings currently under construction in the southwest Valley and one building in Surprise.”

In some cases, he said, industrial users will opt to have their own buildings developed for specific needs.

Office. Grade: B

“While the office market vacancy is currently in the low 20s (percent), there are a limited number of large blocks of contiguous space to satisfy the demand from tenants,” Henig said. “However, rental rates are not at the point where the market will see significant speculative development.”

He said speculative development will happen, though, in certain submarkets when developers can prelease a project.

Retail. Grade: C

“In the great run-up, there was great interest in fringe development as retailers and retail developers followed the housing boom. This was followed by the closing and downsizing of a large number of retailers that were both national chains and mom-and-pops,” Henig said. “These closings greatly impacted the retail marketplace for the consumer, the property owner and the remaining tenants where these vacancies occurred. The last great impact on the retail market was and has been the impact of the Internet on retail sales.”

He said all those factors have given retailers a chance to rebrand themselves as shopping patterns and consumers continue to evolve.

What surprises you about the Valley’s real-estate market now?

“The large number of industrial and office users that are looking at our market. While many are using code names, you would be surprised in the number and size of these requirements. While the companies may be considering other markets, it is encouraging that metro Phoenix and Arizona are at the table when companies are considering expansion and/or relocation of their operations,” Henig said.

Are there more big employers out there eyeing metro Phoenix?

“There are a large number of companies circling the Valley looking for the right opportunity. However, at times it is difficult to gauge their intent and interest and if we are being used as a backup for the desired city of choice.

“Arizona is currently categorized as ‘competitive’ in terms of incentives that are being offered, which should enable the state to attract companies that we would not have previously seen in our market,” he said.


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AZ Central – After recession, Downtown Scottsdale’s SouthBridge now ‘golden area’

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Joy Li, a fashion designer originally from New York, opened her boutique five years ago at downtown Scottsdale’s SouthBridge, just as the economy slipped into recession.
“It was very, very tough because you had to have faith in knowing that this was going to get built up,” she said. “It was a learning experience to build a business by yourself when everyone else around you is disappearing.”
The four-building restaurant and retail complex along the south side of the Arizona Canal was hard hit by the recession, as numerous merchants were forced out of business.
Studio Joy Li; Amy inc., a fashion boutique; and the Garage Boutique for Kids were the first and only remaining original tenants of the Mix Shops at SouthBridge, along Stetson Drive.
“No one else is from the beginning,” said Fred Unger, SouthBridge developer. “All the restaurants failed.”
Today, the SouthBridge district, the commercial triangle bordered by Stetson, Sixth Avenue and Scottsdale Road, is a very different picture. The neighborhood is bustling with thriving independent merchants.
The district includes about 40 tenants. It includes such restaurants as Mercellino Ristorante, Barrio Queen, Herb Box and Tapas Papa Frita.
“SouthBridge is now 99 percent leased and we have strong interest in the two small vacant spaces,” Unger said. “In the entire district, we have only three small vacant spaces. It’s never been that good.”
Li said the new merchants and activity are an encouraging sign.
“It’s nice to see new merchants that take pride and passion in the product they’re offering or the service, vs. the big guys who are just funded by a lot of money, but not caring about product and people,” she said. “It’s very interesting to watch it grow and who comes in.”
Latest arrivals
Classic Cakes and Confectionsis preparing to open in the Mix Shops. The company has been in business about seven years and its commercial kitchen is at 32nd Street and Shea Boulevard.
“This will be our retail location,” said Lisa Levinson, a co-owner. “We love the area, we love the people around here.”
The business provides special-order cakes, pies and pastries, and is now open to walk-in service in its retail location.
“We do a lot of big wedding cakes and things for the resorts, like the Phoenician Resort, the Arizona Biltmore, the Montelucia Resort and Spa and Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa,” said Neil Levinson, co-owner. “We feel Old Scottsdale needs a good bakery.”
Also at SouthBridge, Twist has just opened its first high-end salon in Arizona. It has two other salons, in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.
“We came to Scottsdale because they told us the most beautiful women were living in Scottsdale, so we came in to enhance their beauty,” said Oliver Ifergan, the owner. “I think SouthBridge was a great asset to us because you already have so many cool stores and we wanted to be part of that, part of the experience of coming here.”
Ifergan plans to open five Twist salons in Phoenix-Scottsdale, and the SouthBridge location already is successful, he said.
Also on the second floor, Pearl MedSpa opened in late October offering plastic surgery and advanced aesthetic treatments in a spa environment. This is its first location outside Portland, Ore.
“We saw the opportunity to enter into the market with the increasing population in the area, and we want to provide the finest experience and the highest-quality service,” said Carol Robbins, Pearl MedSpa’s CEO. “We plan to make a major impact at SouthBridge and Scottsdale.”
Wedding headquarters
Merchants in SouthBridge want to corner the bridal market by offering one-stop shopping for all wedding needs. The second floor of SouthBridge includes four stores in one — the Flower Studio, Destiny’s Bride, De Noce Ferrer/Amy Mancuso Events and Savvi by Mr. Formal.
Lisa Daversa, owner of Destiny’s Bride, moved her business about a year ago to SouthBridge from the Borgata of Scottsdale. That shopping center is set to be replaced with a condominium complex.
“This whole thing was empty,” she said. “Fred asked me to come here and put together a couture wedding experience, and I told him about bringing other vendors who were all related to that, so that a customer could come here for almost everything. This is where young women go to pick fine wedding gowns and it has that sort of level.”
De Noce Ferrer, which specializes in designer bridal evening shoes and handbags, opened in October and is owned by Amy Mancuso, who also runs her wedding/event planning business.
“I love the area, I love the Waterfront,” she said. “I love the vision that they’re trying to bring for the shops here now and into the future,” she said. “This is the golden area down here for Scottsdale.”
Surviving and thriving
Katie Wilson, owner of the Garage, was the original tenant in the Mix Shops and has survived while other children’s boutiques have closed in Scottsdale. She relocated her business from the Borgata.
Surviving the recession meant making small changes in her business to appeal to more customers.
“Being an existing business through those challenging times is really what carried me through that time, as well as being a hands-on retailer,” she said. “I’m here every day. People like the neighborhood community and being able to support local shops.”
Other tenants in the Mix Shops include Nestldown Linens and J. Gilbert footwear.
Salon Spectrum, a hair salon/boutique, has been in the SouthBridge district for 11 years, before SouthBridge was even built. Tracy King, the owner, said she knew the area was “up and coming.”
“It’s exciting for us because now that we have the merchants collaborating, it’s nice to all pull together and work together,” she said. “You can definitely feel a positive energy in the people who are coming in.”
The district also includes such merchants as Scottsdale Pen, a specialty and collector pen store, and Oh My Dog, a boutique and spa for dogs.
Jay Sadow, owner of Scottsdale Pen, said he’s one of the survivors of the economic downturn and he’s happy to support the “resurgence of the Mix Shops.”


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AZ Central – Hotel, eatery near Fashion Square will be demolished

The buildings that last housed the Days Inn and Coco’s Bakery Restaurant near Scottsdale Fashion Square are set to be demolished next month.
The 44-year-old hotel north of the mall closed in early December, while the restaurant, which opened in 1966, closed last summer. When Days Inn and Coco’s opened, Fashion Square was a three-story, open-air structure anchored by one department store and a supermarket.
Macerich, which owns the properties as well as Scottsdale Fashion Square, has submitted to the city Planning Department an interim site plan for the acreage. It includes demolishing the hotel and restaurant, and installing a driveway providing access to the mall from Highland Avenue.
Amy Malloy, Macerich’s senior development manager, said there are not yet any plans to develop the site.
“Any future development will be market driven,” she said. “We didn’t want to leave a vacant hotel and restaurant on the site.”
Fashion Square’s most recent expansion, completed in late 2009, included a new wing for Barneys New York, H&M and other retailers.
Macerich will need to obtain demolition permits from the city to tear down the 167-room hotel and restaurant, in addition to permits to construct the driveway, said Dan Symer, senior city planner.
Macerich also will have to obtain a permit from the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department to proceed with demolition, he said.
“They have to go in and find out if there is any asbestos, and if so, remove it, then they can get the permits,” Symer said.
Macerich hopes to begin demolition early next month, and the process should take 45 to 60 days, Malloy said.
Once demolition is complete, landscape gravel will be installed to create a “more aesthetically pleasing area,” she said.
Other construction projects are set for the area, including Gray Development Group’s Blue Sky apartment complex and Phoenix Motor Co.’s Mercedes-Benz dealership, both on the east side of Scottsdale Road across from the mall.


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AZ Central – Tempe is set to sell land by Town Lake

The Tempe City Council adopted a resolution Thursday to sell about 100 acres of high-profile land that city officials have said could net $11.9 million and help pay for replacing Town Lake’s western dam.
The agreement with Liberty Property Trust, a Pennsylvania-based real-estate company, allows development of parcels of high-profile land at Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive just west of Town Lake.
The sale terms include $15.1million for 76 acres, $2.1million for 5 more acres and the option to buy an additional 21 acres. The city will credit Liberty for about $5 million in remediation costs to prepare the land for development. Upon development, Liberty would make a one-time $50,000 payment to two Tempe school districts.
The 7-0 vote came without comment from the council. However, during the public-comment period, Tempe resident Haryaksha Gregor Knauer, who was a Green Party candidate for a District 26 state House seat, told the council that he takes issue with the deal, which he described as “corporate welfare.”
The development deal allows Liberty to complete its project in phases over a nine to 12-year period.


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AZ Central – Proposed apartment development wins council continuance

The developer of a proposed apartment complex along south Scottsdale’s McDowell Road corridor Tuesday avoided facing a super-majority vote for approval by the City Council.
Chason Development wants to build the complex, Las Aguas, on the 5-acre parcel that formerly housed Pitre Buick, on the northern side of McDowell west of 68th Street. The $25million complex would include 154 units.
At its Tuesday meeting, the council voted 4-2 to continue until its March 5 meeting consideration of a rezoning with amended development standards and a development plan for Las Aguas. The continuance was requested by John Berry, a zoning attorney representing Chason.
Councilmen Bob Littlefield and Guy Phillips voted against the continuance. No discussion took place prior to the vote.
A legal protest filed by adjacent property owners would have forced a super-majority 6-1 vote for approval of the project. Kim Chafin, senior city planner, confirmed that the legal protest is still valid and that the applicant sought more time to work with neighbors who continue to oppose the project.
Phillips said the council should first have a discussion about the need for more apartments before considering this and any other apartment proposals. The council already has approved “too many apartment units.”
“It’s just irresponsible to keep approving these without a discussion on do we need them, where are the people going to go, do we have room for the traffic, is there work for them, etc.,” he said. “It’s putting the cart before the horse.”
Littlefield said obtaining “endless continuances” is the developer’s way of wearing down the neighbors.” On the other hand, if the residents weren’t ready to present their arguments, the council wouldn’t grant them a continuance, he said.
“The developer’s attorney knew he didn’t have the votes, so he continued it,” he said. “Why should we let this guy just continue to vote shop … for when he thinks he has enough votes?
“It’s disrespecting the residents while fawning over developers.”
A small number of residents attended the council meeting, but weren’t allowed to speak because of the continuance. They wouldn’t comment after the vote.
The council previously granted a continuance at its Jan. 22 meeting. The first continuance is granted automatically, according to council procedure. The second continuance required a council vote.
“We continue to discuss issues the neighbors have raised with them and hope to be able to move forward successfully with the case with additional neighborhood involvement and input,” Berry said. “We’re just talking to folks.”
The proposal has been unpopular with nearby residents from the start. Chason has made numerous changes in the proposal to gain the support of nearby residents, such as no north-facing balconies, a higher buffer wall along the northern side, higher-pitched roofs on the one-story garages along the northern side and a construction sequence to buffer the neighborhood.
Berry has said those who remain opposed don’t want apartments built on the site.
“We’re looking at all the alternatives,” he said.
The council also is tentatively set to consider at its Feb. 26 meeting another apartment proposal that faces opposition from nearby homeowners.
Woods Partners, a developer of multi-family residences, wants to replace Rural/Metro Corp.’s Scottsdale billing and call center with a 223-unit apartment complex at the northeastern corner of of Indian School and Granite Reef roads.
Opponents plan to mobilize in the coming weeks and present a stronger opposition than when the proposal was considered and recommended for council approval by the Planning Commission.