Monday, April 27, 2009

Just Discovered: South Mountain Villager

As I scoured the Internet for an unrelated tidbit of information, I happened across the South Mountain Villager, which is a blog for "positive news about the Laveen and South Mountain villages." This is a great idea for a blog and, judging by past entries, it has some great content. Therefore, I am adding it to my list o' links to the right. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

And we're back....

After a rather long hiatus, I am pleased to announce the arrival of my son, born last month to Catherine and me, following a long weekend in the hospital. He is our first and we expect that he will inspire us to have a second, third, and so on.

During this break from posting, there's been quite a bit of activity in the old farm fields of Laveen. Most notably, here's what has been observed on the commercial real estate front: MidFirst Bank is a go; LA Fitness is a maybe. Also, there's talk of a hospital, we've seen at least two new specialty businesses open recently, and now Denny's wants in on the action, along with other restaurants. So here's the play-by-play for each intersection:

51st and Baseline
Denny's signed a lease for the space at the westernmost end of the Safeway shopping center. I know, bummer.... I wanted something better, too. But this way, at least we have another option that is poised to successfully demonstrate our pent up demand. Also, Pappa John's has agreed to enter the same shopping center, leaving only two more spaces to fill. Across the street, MidFirst Bank is preparing to break ground, along with yet another fast food restaurant (Yum brands combo concept?) and a strip mall. As for LA Fitness, we have yet to see what will happen; their preferred local developer, Diversified Partners, has closed its doors and left the site's primary developer to negotiate with the gym directly.

51st and Southern
Reportedly, a new running store is opening here this weekend. The Runners Store is having a grand opening celebration, featuring free foot analysis on Saturday.

Dobbins and 63rd
HOSPITAL??? A Tempe-based developer named Habitat Metro has submitted speculative permit requests to attract one of three local hospitals: Banner, John C. Lincoln, or Catholic Healthcare West. None of the hospitals have committed, although they have each allegedly expressed interest on the condition that we build a freeway. To add credibility, there are also rumors floating around about a group of doctors planning to build an office condo development nearby (although they could probably get a great lease rate instead). Here's my concern about this: Habitat Metro has never completed this type of project in the past. Their largest development to date was a residential project in downtown Phoenix. Add to that the outraged claims of one of the property's neighbors that they have no actual plans for a hospital, and you will understand my skepticism.

We all know that it's just a matter of time, but let's not get too excited yet. We can't even get a definitive answer about the freeway, which is absolutely a prerequisite for any type of trauma center to be economically feasible in such an area as Laveen (those things are quite expensive, and we have yet to provide the immediate population density or demonstrated demand for emergency services--despite showing an absolute demand from the broader region). See also the Banner hospital underway in Queen Creek for an indication of their investment appetite at the present time (hint: they say it won't open anytime soon, despite being nearly complete). Let's see what happens with national health care reform and the state budget outlook for infrastructure improvements, and then perhaps I'll change my tune to something more along the lines of, "I'm a Believer."

27th and Southern
Much to my surprise, the small shopping center on the northwest corner is filling up, with the newest tenant selling weight loss shakes and supplements. Their neighbors include a preschool and barber shop.

35th and Baseline & 27th and Baseline
Still empty. That's right, two great new shopping centers that are completely empty. They were speculatively built when rents were considerably higher and better guaranteed. Now, it looks like they can't afford the cost of tenant improvements or the ability to discount leases in order to generate activity. Now, I'd have to guess that it's only a matter of time before one or both of these properties is sold for pennies on the dollar. Let's hope that there's still a bright future in store for both of them and they employ a savvy strategy as the market begins to stabilize.

That's all for now, but stay tuned. I have some exciting news about the upcoming public roundtable event, titled "Local Laveen Summit." Here, we will seek and find answers to many of Laveen's most challenging questions. More info to come soon, I promise.