PLANNING FOUNTAIN HILLS Planners help decision-makers decide what types of development will occur on parcels of land that are undeveloped or are planned to be redeveloped. Planners help them decide what this development will look like, too – how big the lots will be, how tall buildings will be, what types of businesses can be located near homes, and which businesses are more appropriate to be located further away from where people live (for example, industrial uses). This is called “zoning”. Planners then review development plans and building permits to make sure they adhere to the established goals of the Town’s long range plan, called the “General Plan”. Having these regulations help a community to have a high quality of life and relatively stable property values. Planning helps to ensure safety, access to amenities, and adequate infrastructure (roads and sidewalks, electricity, water, schools). Planners encourage that development and growth processes are done using shared goals and priorities of community members. Having a general plan helps investors, employers, and employees make investment decisions about where to locate. While planning cannot address all future issues, it can help a community
be resilient using informed decision-making that allows for economic, social, and environmental benefits for the community at large long into the future. The land which is now Fountain Hills was once a cattle ranch that passed hands several times. Then in the 1960s the land was purchased by Robert P. McCullough and in the 1970s it was “master planned”. What does that mean? It means that the location of roads, homes, businesses, parks, and open space were all planned out so that when development started, people knew where to place these different elements of a community. As you can see in the photo from 1971, grading (creating even land) has begun to prepare the area for development. The locations for Fountain Hills Boulevard, Palisades Boulevard, and Saguaro Boulevard have been established. Fountain Lake has also been created. The large area below Palisades Blvd. and left of Saguaro Blvd. has been cleared and graded for what is now the Town Center. Looking at the photo from 2016, you can see that the areas planned for these elements have now been constructed.
Downtown Fountain Hills – 1971 Aerial Photo Map Source: Granite Reef Dam USGS – United States Dept. of the Interior Geological Survey
Downtown Fountain Hills – 2016 Aerial Photo Map Source: Maricopa County Office of Enterprise Technology
FOUNTAIN HILLS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Economic development requires a public private partnership to comprehensively build a strong economic base in Fountain Hills. The Town, business groups, civic organizations, businesses, and residents all contribute to ensuring that Fountain Hills’ economy grows. Creating more jobs locally attracts more year-round residents to live, work, and play in the community. These jobs expand the market for local businesses creating revenues that support the community’s quality of life. As revenues are generated and the economic base expands, rev enues are available for needed basic services such as parks, recreation, and infrastructure improvements. The economic development department supports economic growth in Fountain Hills. Department services include new business recruitment, technical assistance for existing Fountain Hills businesses, business retention, and site selection assistance for new and existing businesses. The primary goals of the department are to increase the tax base and employment opportunities in Fountain Hills. Climbing out of the recession that marked the early part of this decade, the last three years have seen renewed investment and revitalization in Fountain Hills. We have worked with several successful projects that have created over 100 new jobs and over $3 million in capital investment in our community. Other projects under development will create over 200 new jobs and over $200 million in investment in our community. The growth and expansion of a few targeted existing businesses including, Brokers Alliance, Prevco Subsea, Set Enterprises, and Concept Development have been a tremendous value to our community.
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In total, the projects represent an estimated 400 new jobs, and over $200 million in new capital investment. The economic impact will carry forward for many years. An opportunity moving forward is to fill some of our available commercial space. Commercial vacancy rates remain on the high side (albeit comparable to similar communities), so we are placing a greater focus on reducing vacant commercial space. Staff is undertaking a large retail recruitment campaign that will reduce retail leakage, add revenue, and increase property values. The attraction efforts will focus on specific areas of need: apparel, home goods, specialty grocery, sporting goods and hobbies, specialty restaurants, as well as others. The progress made has not gone unnoticed. The Town has earned national recognitions like: Best place to start a business (Movoto.com), 3rd best suburb in the Valley (Movoto.com), Most successful Arizona city (Zippia.com), and a Top city, 71st in the Nation, for building wealth (LendEDU.com). Stay tuned for future updates as staff is busy working on the newly adopted Strategic Plan. In preparation, we will examine our industries of opportunity, economic activity areas, key economic indicators, external and internal factors, and other opportunities. We will carefully consider our past performance, as well as the Town Council’s strategic initiatives and the role economic development plays in supporting those initiatives. This comprehensive analysis and inspired vision from residents, management, and elected officials will help drive the goals, strategies, and performance measures for Fountain Hills’ future.
Published on Nov 20, 2017