BizTucson Spring 2023 Special Report MPA

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TIMELINE MPA Common Ground Projects 2006 – 2021 Oro Valley Marketplace Rita Tech Park, Target Distribution Center 2006 2008 124 BizTucson < < < Spring 2023 25

Connecting for Success

MPA’s 25 Years as Facilitator and Connector for Southern Arizona

“Rising tides raise all ships. Many hands make light work. A problem shared is a problem halved.”

Those three passages – the first one used frequently by President John F. Kennedy − have come to express that people and organizations can accomplish more and do things better when they work together. It’s been the focus of the non-profit Metropolitan Pima Alliance for the past 25 years.

MPA has served as a driving force for responsible growth and development throughout Southern Arizona by connecting key stakeholders and fostering collaborative discussions. Doing that leads to comprehensive solutions that consider the impact on the environment, the local economy and the quality of life of people in the region.

Since its inception, MPA has grown to become a respected, influential organization and now has more than 150 members, including real estate developers, architects, planners, utilities and community leaders.

Together, the stakeholders work to positively and sustainably promote the region through education, advocacy and collaboration. MPA’s impact can be seen in a number of significant projects. The organization played a crucial role in the creation of the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District, which has been instrumental in the revitalization of Downtown Tucson. Additionally, MPA has been involved in the creation of the Chuck Huckleberry Loop, a 131-mile trail system that connects the region’s parks and communities. Most recently, it played a role in the redevelopment proposal for the Oro Valley Marketplace by connecting town officials, community members and developers. “Organizations like MPA bring forward an education piece for the community that demonstrates best practices and what sustainable living looks like in other communities and what it could look like here. That helps move projects forward,” said Keri Silvyn, partner at Lazarus & Silvyn, a land-use

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Civano North Ridge, Sustainable Community Twin Peaks Area Development UniSource Energy Corporate Headquarters
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Arizona Baseball moves to Hi Corbett
TIMELINE 2016 2013 2015
La Estancia Masterplanned Community Plaza Centro and The Cadence Development RTA, Houghton Road Corridor Improvements
126 BizTucson < < < Spring 2023 BizMILESTONE PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS MPA Common Ground Projects 2006 – 2021 continued
From left – Terry Klipp, Terramar Properties; Allyson Solomon, MPA Executive Director ; Linda Morales, Owner & CEO, The Planning Center, MPA Board Member; Ryan Stucki, SVP at Engineering & Environment Consultants, MPA Board Chair; Alice Templeton, Communit y Relations, Special Projects, Stantec.

The Oro Valley Village Oasis Park will be a place where visitors young and old can enjoy a variety of activities including dining, exercise, recreation, relaxation, playgrounds, walking paths, art and music venues.

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law firm involved with the Oro Valley Marketplace revitalization project.

r the direction of new owner TownWest, Oro Valley Marketplace will be redeveloped to include residential, el, retail and recreational spaces. Silvyn said MPA has been a key part of the project’s success by connecting and

Founded by a small group of businessmen in 1997, MPA was created in response to a growing need for a collaborative, community-driven approach to real estate development and land-use planning. At the time, there was rowing public concern that development in the region was happening without adequate input from the community or consideration for the impact on the environment. aking inspiration from the Phoenix-based Valley Partnership, MPA’s founders saw an opportunity to create a platform where businesses, government officials and community members could work together.

Michael Grassinger, principal consultant with The Planning Center and past MPA Board Chair, was at the proverbial – and in this case literal – table when MPA was continued on page 128 >>>

TIMELINE 2017 2018 2019 2021
Tucson City of Gastronomy, UNESCO Designation Westside Redevelopment, MSA Annex, Monier, Caterpillar The Benedictine Monastery Adaptive re-use Pima County Historic Courthouse Renovation TANGERINE HOTEL ORO VALLEY VILLAGE CENTER
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Working together for the common good. This is what MPA’s Common Ground Awards celebrate and why we were so excited to celebrate 25 years of collaboration and growth.”

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formed. While having dinner at The Iron Mask − today Kingfisher occupies the space − Grassinger, Allen Lurie and Frank Thompson sketched out their concept for what would become MPA.

“Our goal was to create an organization that was educational and a place for all parties to communicate what their concerns were and try to work things out,” Grassinger said.

Terry Klipp of Terramar Properties also was a key player in MPA’s early days. “Land use was a very divisive topic,” he said. “Tucson has been a growth/no-growth town for 50 years or more.”

As a result, there was growth without robust planning and there were many unhappy community members and businesspeople.

The MPA founders knew that involving both public and private sectors was critical to the organization’s long-term success, so they sought out a diverse group of members to represent virtually all aspects of the community. Early advocates of MPA included the Tucson

Association of Realtors and the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association – two groups that are still strong supporters. Today, Pima Association of Governments, Tucson Electric Power and the University of Arizona are also

represented on MPA’s board and its membership reflects the region’s diversity and uniqueness.

Ryan Stucki, SVP at Engineering & Environment Consultants and current MPA board chair, said, “Conversations began happening that didn’t used to happen. We can show that there has been success in providing that connectivity. Most of the government agencies proactively come to MPA now to get input.”

But there is still work to be done.

MPA board member Linda Morales of the Planning Center said communication and collaboration will always be a work in progress and MPA has positioned itself to address it head-on.

“MPA frames issues around the goal of making Tucson a better place,” she said. “MPA brings the community together to have intelligent conversations around promoting sustainable development and healthy communities. We’ve made strides, but we still have a ways to go.”

MPA hosts monthly policy meetings, quarterly educational events and work-

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“Working together, MPA’s Common Ground Award and event concept was developed.”
– Priscilla Storm VP
Diamond Ventures MPA Board Member

shops to provide the latest information on market trends and policy issues. In 2020, MPA created a new educational program known as “Immersion” with the goal of providing attendees indepth knowledge regarding each component of the construction, real estate and development sectors in Southern Arizona. These programs and events also serve to help stakeholders who share the common goal of uplifting the region to network.

Robin Shambach said these events along with her time on the MPA board and serving as board chair were invaluable. “MPA is fact- and content-driven and they host high-quality events that provide really good data,” she said. “The connections and trust these events – and MPA – foster make healthy collaboration possible.”

MPA also believes in celebrating the community’s wins. With that in mind, it created the annual Common Ground Awards. The event honors and celebrates collaborative efforts in real estate development and land-use planning in the region. Awards are given to

outstanding projects that demonstrate how diverse stakeholders have worked together to achieve common goals and create a positive impact on the community.

Priscilla Storm was the Diamond Ventures representative on the MPA board when she came up with the idea to “recognize land development projects that worked with stakeholders” and shared the idea with the board and staff.

“Working together, MPA’s Common Ground Award and event concept was developed,” Storm said. “The first Common Ground event established a series of major project categories and solicited applications that included extensive public, private and non-profit collaboration and showed how compromise and innovation could produce shared success.”

Hector Jimenez, owner of Central Barrio Development, won a Common Ground award for The Flash project. Built in 1965, Flash TV served Tucsonans for decades before falling into disuse. Jimenez re-envisioned the historic property as an affordable housing op-

tion combining residential with workspaces. Working with a very tight budget, Jimenez successfully saw the project through. The City of Tucson has cited the project as a model for others, one that has set the stage for future projects.

“Winning a Common Ground award was a validation of the hard work that we spent years putting in,” Jimenez said.

This year’s awards take place May 18 at the Fox Theater Tucson. CHASSE Building Team is the presenting sponsor.

“As a company, when we began establishing roots and a home office in Tucson over 10 years ago, it was clear to us this community was not like others in Arizona,” said Leigh-Anne Harrison, executive director at CHASSE. “We attribute this difference, this desire to solve, rather than create problems, to the notion of Working together for the common good. This is what MPA’s Common Ground Awards celebrate and why we were so excited to celebrate 25 years of collaboration and growth.”

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Empowering the Future

MPA’s ‘Immersion’ Program Connects, Educates

MPA’s Immersion program trains the next generation of community leaders to better address the region’s growth and development by furthering knowledge, collaborating and working toward common goals.

Designed for early- to mid-career professionals working in the areas of land use, construction, planning, development and real estate, the threemonth program accepts a new cohort of 10 to 15 students each fall.

“These are complicated issues,” said Robin Shambach, principal at BWS Architects and a former MPA board chair. “People coming up in our com munity who are involved in land use need to understand all factors that play into that. Immersion gives robust infor mation about how things happen in our community and how to build relation ships.”

Immersion hosted its first class in 2020. Each cohort includes industry professionals carefully selected to en sure a variety of disciplines and expe riences are represented. The program hosts a single cohort each year, which takes place in the fall and covers 10 topics. Led by industry professionals and community leaders, each session is two hours long.

Linda Morales, current MPA board member and owner of The Planning Center, has sent students through the program. “Immersion gives a broad view of the development industry, which is not something my employees are necessarily exposed to,” she said. “It’s good for them to understand the

pieces that come before and after what we do (at The Planning Center). That perspective makes for a better consultant.”

MPA Executive Director Allyson Solomon added, “In the Immersion program, you’re going to work with people who are on your same trajectory – people who, while they might not be within your segment of the industry, are still working in land use and development as a whole. And later you have

the chance to be a mentor to the next generation.”

Alumni highly recommend the program and attest to the significant benefits they have received from it, such as the connections they forged throughout the program and a deeper understanding of the development industry.

Immersion alumnus Hector Jimenez said his time in the program was a great experience. Jimenez’s company, Central Barrio Development, recently received accolades for The Flash, a redevelopment project just south of downtown along Sixth Avenue and 19th Street. Formerly the Flash TV & Appliance Store, the property will feature commercial areas as well as residential living spaces. Jimenez won an A Common Ground award for the

“I tend to put my head down and work and don’t network as I should,” he said. “We tend to work in silos and don’t understand what each of the players do in their respective fields.”

Jimenez said Immersion helped to connect him with people with similar goals as well as those with different perspectives. “Going into it, you know the other people are on a similar path. It creates more fruitful relationships, which, in turn, will yield better projects for the region in general.”

Jimenez was so impressed with his experience that he’s sent others through the program. “Graduates better understand the process,” he said. “They see it from all sides. Industry in general is fragmented and we tend to work within

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how things happen in our community and how to build relationships.”

our own capabilities and strengths. That means we don’t always know what other professions are doing or the ways a decision made at one point can affect the whole process.”

Teresa Vasquez of HSL Properties is an Immersion student. “The Immersion program is a unique opportunity to interact with the community’s future leaders in small group settings,” she said. “These types of interactions tend to produce genuine bonds that ultimately pay dividends down the road.”

Vasquez added that the program has helped her to see her work in a broader context and from different perspectives, which ultimately refreshes her view.

“In my opinion, the industry and community benefit in two ways,” she said. “First, it helps create deeper bonds between future community and industry leaders that lead to real progress. Second, it helps break down professional silos that inhibit personal and community growth.”

Tucson Electric Power has also sent students through the Immersion program. MPA board member and TEP staffer Camila Martins-Bekat said that TEP benefits greatly from the knowledge employees gain in the program.

“It’s an opportunity for TEP to provide value to employees for their professional development,” she said, “and it’s an opportunity to get close to our customers and learn about their customer experience. We hope to send one person through in each class.”

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Teresa Vasquez, Camila Martins-Bekat and Hector Jimenez PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS


10 Projects Making a Difference

Public, Private & Community Coming Together with Common Ground

The Metropolitan Pima Alliance exists to help pull multiple interests together and promote collaboration for the region to be able to use its business and public resources for the overall good of the community.

Chuck Huckelberry Loop

Virtually every local government jurisdiction participated in the development of the 137-mile Chuck Huckelberry Loop, Tucson’s multiuse, off-street path that has garnered numerous national and local awards, including an MPA Common Ground Award.

The Loop winds throughout the Tucson metro area touching Pima County, Marana, Oro Valley, Tucson, South Tucson, the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. It is the longest off-street path of its type in the country.

The Loop runs along and over all the major river systems or waterways in the area: the Rillito River, the Santa Cruz River, the Pantano Wash, the Julian Wash Greenway and the Harrison Greenway. It also links a number of feeder washes including the Tanque Verde Wash, the Cañada del Oro Wash, and north and south of the Santa Cruz River.

Voted the Best Recreational Trail by USA Today in 2021, the Loop has become a major economic driver for the region and enhances its reputation as a bicycle-friendly area that boasts the El Tour de Tucson annual cycling

event and other events throughout the year.

“The Loop is fast becoming a key economic driver, offering expanded recreational opportunities throughout the region; attracting biking enthusiasts, bird watchers, and other tourists; an alternate transportation mode; im proving air quality; providing a safe, accessible exercise option for the com munity,” Pima County said in its nom ination of the project for the Com mon Ground Award in 2012. “More than one-third of the metropolitan population lives within a half mile of the Loop or Loop Links.”

The Loop has also received privatesector support with funding. Busi nesses now locating along the path are creating additional economic devel opment opportunities.

The Loop was named for former Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry in 2018. Huckelberry, an avid cyclist, was instrumental in the development of the Loop. He was honored at an Oct. 22 event at the Loop as he recovered from injuries he suffered in an accident while on his bicycle in Downtown Tucson in Oc tober 2021.

Since 2007, MPA has awarded proects that are examples of what collaboration can accomplish. The following projects are 10 that are the prime examples of how MPA’s role has helped pave the way for projects that involve multiple jurisdictions and multiple interests.

“ These 10 Common Ground Award Winners have had a large impact not only on the real estate and development community, but all of Tucson,” Biz
Allyson Solomon Executive Director Metropolitan Pima Alliance

City of Tucson Sun Link Streetcar

Credited by many as the most important development to jumpstart Downtown Tucson’s revitalization, the $197 million Sun Link Tucson Streetcar was named an MPA Common Ground Project of the Decade in 2014.

Sun Link, which is operated by the City of Tucson through Sun Tran, is the first fixed-rail transit system in Southern Arizona and is widely considered the largest and most complex construction project in the city’s history.

The four-mile route begins at the Mercado District west of Interstate 10 and passes through Downtown, the Fourth Avenue business district, University Main Gate Square and UArizona on its way to the Arizona Health Sciences Center north of Speedway.

“Sun Link is integral to the creation of a region-wide seamless transit system and provides easy connections to Sun Tran, select Sun Shuttle routes, and UA CatTran,” Sun Link said in its nomination for the Common Ground Award. “More than a historic transit system, Sun Link connects the more than 100,000 people who live, work, study and play within walking distance of the streetcar corridor.”

The Sun Link project is part of the ongoing $2.1 billion Regional Transportation Plan approved by Pima County voters in May 2006. The project is primarily funded by the Regional Transportation Authority – or RTA − and through federal and other regional funds. The City of Tucson and RTA co-managed the project with key partners including UArizona and the Arizona Department of Transportation. The Federal Transit Administration Region 9 monitored the project along with a project management oversight team.

Jim Campbell, a commercial and residential developer who oversaw the Plaza Centro/Cadence project downtown, said at the time of the award that his development would not have occurred without the streetcar.

“Plaza Centro is the first private-sector, ground-up development in Tucson in 30 years and there was a reason for it – the streetcar,” Campbell said. “There is a reason that housing at The Cadence is in such demand, and retail space at Plaza Centro is 100% occupied – the streetcar.”

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Pima Community College’s Center of Excellence in Applied Technology is the first in a long-term PCC strategy to unite the various interests in business, education and government for the overall good of the region’s economic development.

The Center of Excellence in Applied Technology at the PCC Downtown Campus provides educational opportunities for students while working to meet the demand for a skilled workforce for companies looking to locate in Tucson.

Additional centers of excellence are planned in information technology, health professions, public safety and security, hospitality leadership and the arts. The Applied Technology center focuses on advanced manufacturing, transportation technology and infrastructure.

“Instructors with extensive real-world experience will teach a curriculum that has been developed in handin-hand coordination with business and industry,” PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert said in the project’s Common Ground Award nomination. “Additionally, communityservice providers and industry associations will have access to be strategically located at the (centers of excellence) for better connectivity to our students.”

In developing its long-term strategy for the centers of excellence, PCC cited research in 2018 that middleskilled jobs accounted for 53% of the state’s labor mar-

ket, but only 47% of the state’s workforce was training in those areas.

“Pima Community College recognizes that we as educators must adapt quickly to meet employers’ needs,” said Greg Wilson, dean of applied technology at PCC. “Our vision for the center of excellence is that in partnership with our community, we will provide high-quality, in-demand programs that cultivate an agile workforce.”

Don Theriault, president of Tucson-based Industrial Tool, Die & Engineering Inc., said the Advanced Manufacturing building will make PCC the top school in Arizona for state-of-the-art facilities and training.

“PCC is leading the state of Arizona and this will to be a cutting-edge place for learning advanced manufacturing and robotics,” said Theriault, a leader of the local industry group Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners.

“Our Center of Excellence in Applied Technology will address the region’s need for skilled workers who will form the foundation of a stable, prosperous community,” Lambert said. “By providing a work-ready talent pool for employers, the CoE will enhance metro Tucson’s attractiveness to companies seeking to establish or expand operations at a fast-growing crossroads of national and international commerce.”

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Pima Community College Center of Excellence in Applied Technology
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Association of Governments, Regional Transportation Authority and 20-year Transportation Plan

When voters approved a half-cent sales tax in 2006 to fund transportation projects in the region, it was estimated the 20-year plan would pour about $2 billion into roadway projects with the Regional Transportation Authority managing the funds. The RTA is tasked with collecting the tax revenues throughout Pima County and making sure the funds are spent on allowable expenses, mostly new construction.

Multiple projects that have had RTA involvement have won MPA Common Ground Awards.

Nearly all roadway projects involve collaboration among at least three entities, the RTA said. There also is private sector involvement in some projects.

“Typically, in large road construction work, the physical labor and visible construction is completed by a private construction company that has bid on the project and won the contract with the local jurisdiction that manages it,” the RTA says on its website. “This is why you’ll often see construction trucks with the logo of a private company alongside construction work, perhaps even more often than you see trucks with the logo of the city, town or county during the construction project.

The private company builds the road to meet the jurisdiction and state standards, using RTA funds.”

An example cited by the RTA is the Tangerine Road project from Interstate 10 to La Cañada Road. It was a 10-mile-long project that crossed the boundaries of the Town of Marana, Pima County and the Town of Oro Valley. The Town of Marana was the lead agency on the project and was supported by the other two agencies.

Two signature projects of the RTA were the 3.9-mile Sun Link streetcar which used RTA, federal and local funds, and the Chuck Huckelberry Loop. The Loop is 137 miles of the 300 miles of new bike and pedestrian paths that have been funded through the RTA. There are plans for 250 more miles.

Two of the more visible and recently completed projects that used RTA funds were the widening of Broadway, the so-called “Sunshine Mile,” and the downtown bypass – the Maclovio Barraza Parkway – that opened on Feb. 17 with a new roadway and bridge north of downtown.

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Pima County Joint Technical Education District

The Pima County Joint Technical Education District, known as Pima JTED, has been a collaboration of business, community, government and education that took years from the time a 2007 ballot measure passed to create it, to 2020 when the Pima JTED Innovative Learning Campus was opened. It was a 2019 winner of the MPA Common Ground Award.

On its website, Pima JTED describes itself as a “public career and technical education district which works with business and industry and 14 member public school districts to provide premier CTE programs to approximately 22,000 sophomore-, junior- and seniorlevel high school students each year. Our award-winning programs are proven to increase student success, significantly contribute to our local economy, and afford students the chance to jumpstart their careers and do what they love in high school.”

“We change lives,” Pima JTED Superintendent and CEO Kathy Prather said in a 2021 BizTucson special report on JTED. “We open up a new world of possibility and at the same time, we are able to serve the economic development needs of our community. Our

young people leave us with leadership skills in addition to the technical skills to be leaders of the future.”

The mission of JTED is two-fold, to provide skills for the thousands of students who pass through the program, and to provide a workforce for the businesses who need those skills.

Free programs are available to high school students who can enroll online or contact counselors at designated high schools. Pima JTED also serves students who have not earned a diploma or GED and are under the age of 22.

There are more than 60 programs available in business arts and design; computers and media; health science; hospitality and human services; industrial technologies; public service; and science and engineering.

“Pima JTED is very blessed and benefits greatly from our many volunteers in the community, especially our governing board members,” Prather said. “Each of them in their own way engages and provides guidance, advocating and helping us to connect to others in the community as well as sharing their vast knowledge and expertise from their respective fields.”

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Rio Nuevo Tax Increment Financing District

When the mission is to revitalize a community’s listless downtown, a spirit of collaboration has to be ingrained into every project that comes along.

Rio Nuevo, Tucson’s tax increment financing district – or TIF – was established by the Arizona Legislature to direct state tax dollars into a fund to support downtown revitalization. In addition to the dollars, Rio Nuevo has served as a collaborator and helped bring together the various interests needed to complete the projects that have turned downtown into a vibrant and attractive place to visit and live.

Multiple downtown projects have won MPA Common Ground Awards with the AC Tucson Marriott at East Broadway and Fifth Avenue being one of the first and most visible projects that injected life into the downtown area.

The Marriott was the first brand-name hotel to be built downtown in 40 years when it was completed in 2017. It was a winner of a 2015 Common Ground Award which listed the City of Tucson, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 5 North Fifth Hotels, Swaim Associates Architects, Cypress Civ-

il Development, FORS Architecture & Interiors, Lloyd Construction Company and Visit Tucson as collaborators.

The Tucson Convention Center Arena renovation was another award winner in which Rio Nuevo was listed as a collaborator with the City of Tucson, Concord General Contracting and Swaim Associates Architects.

The ongoing TCC Improvement Project was a Common Ground Award finalist in 2021. That project included remodeling the Music Hall, adding meeting rooms at the Exhibition Hall and renovating the Eckbodesigned plaza.

Those projects, among others, have continued to drive business to downtown with retail and residential projects.

“There’s more interest in Tucson’s urban core. There are more developers talking to us about public/private partnerships. We’re seeing multifamily developers. We’re seeing restauranteurs,” Fletcher McCusker, longtime Rio Nuevo Chair, said in a recent BizTucson report on downtown.”

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Town of Marana

Marana Heritage River Park

The Marana Heritage River Park was a carefully planned, publicly funded project to be a centerpiece of the town’s parks and recreation offerings.

Completed in 2015, the park was developed with input from public- and private-sector interests including the Marana Chamber of Commerce, Marana Heritage Conservancy, MHC Health Centers, Town of Marana Western Heritage Committee, Forest City Southwest, Gladden Farms Community Association and The Aspen Group. The Drachman Institute at the University of Arizona College of Architecture was involved in developing the design concepts.

Input also came in from an online community survey which indicated that hiking and biking trails were the most desired options. The public wanted a splash pad for kids. There also was input that the park would be ideal for farmers markets, possibly some restaurants as well as performance venues and a fitness facility.

The goals for the park as stated in the Master Concept Site Plan were: To establish the park as a showcase of Marana’s culture, heritage, and history; To establish the park as a financially viable operation within the

town; To promote the park as an economic development activity center within the town.

“The Marana Heritage River Park was developed to present Marana’s rich pre-historic and agricultural history,” the Town of Marana said in its nomination form for its Common Ground Award. “This location allows the Town of Marana to offer a variety of programs and events in a unique, outdoor setting.”

A number of existing structures and facilities on the site at 12375 N. Heritage River Park Drive, were adapted as part of the park. The park has easy access to the Santa Cruz River Shared Use Path and access to the Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail.

The park now hosts the Town of Marana’s Fall Festival the second weekend of October which draws more than 7,000 people and features carnival rides, live entertainment, games, food trucks, a mutton busting competition for kids, and the Sunflower Garden. It also has been a venue for large and small events and has hosted numerous weddings for residents of Marana and surrounding areas.

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Town of Oro Valley Innovation Park

Innovation Park in Oro Valley is a collaboration of government, real estate development and the biomedical industry to establish a base for the highly valued industry known for high salaries and a professional workforce.

Innovation Park was a 2011 winner of a Common Ground Award.

The original major employers at the park were Ventana Medical Systems, now known as Roche Tissue Diagnostics, Sanofi-Aventis, now known as Icagen, and the Oro Valley Hospital operated by Northwest Healthcare. Venture West is the developer.

“These companies have created a distinct environment as a leading center for big pharma,” said the project’s Common Ground Award nomination. “The park is a unique project with outstanding views of the Catalina Mountains and serves as a premier location for R&D companies looking for the highest in corporate image and presence.”

The development was 200 acres when it was awarded by MPA in 2011 and is now 535 acres with additional tenants including an aerospace industry tenant, Meggitt/Securaplane, and the UArizona Center for Innovation.

“There is strong collaboration … to help insure a physically and economically attractive environment for a world class location and promoting why these business giants are already there,” the nomination said.

“The increased visibility afforded though opening our R&D center in Innovation Park Oro Valley contributes to Sanofi’s transformation from a largely unknown local entity to community leader,” said Richard Austin, senior planning and resource manager at Sanofi-Aventis at the time, now the CEO of the startup Reglagene.

“Sharing an address with Ventana and the Oro Valley Hospital builds critical mass that will encourage other life sciences companies to locate at Innovation Park.

“Our first-class research facilities enable us to build on our record of value creation for our internal and external partners. Achieving LEEDS Gold status for environmentally sound construction and operation is icing on the cake.”

Prospective tenants can purchase land in the development or build to suit for purchase or lease. The Town of Oro Valley has approved a land-use code to allow for retail, healthcare, manufacturing and research and development at the park.

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Town of Sahuarita Rancho Sahuarita

After nearly 23 years since breaking ground, Rancho Sahuarita still stands as an example of what collaboration among multiple private and public entities can do to transform a community.

Rancho Sahuarita was a 2014 Common Ground Awards Project of the Decade for the Town of Sahuarita. More than 18,000 residents live in close to 6,000 homes in the master-planned community that came together with stakeholders from the Town of Sahuarita, Sahuarita Unified School District, Rural Metro Fire, Cox Communications, and construction, engineering, design and builder groups. At the time of the award, about 60% of the town’s population lived in Rancho Sahuarita.

“We envisioned Rancho Sahuarita as a place where residents could have more time to enjoy what’s really important in life – like family, friends and fun,” said the late Bob Sharpe who began development on 3,000 acres of land in 2000 and closed on the first home sale in 2002. “It’s all about offering a lifestyle that makes people’s lives easier and more enjoyable.”

Besides building houses and the accompanying ame-

nities, Rancho Sahuarita has built eight schools in the area.

“Great schools make great communities, and we are proud to be a longtime partner and supporter of the school district,” said Sharpe. At the time of the award, Rancho Sahuarita had donated almost 75 acres of land for SUSD schools. Rancho Sahuarita has also partnered with the school district on a number of programs and initiatives, including the Sahuarita WINS community engagement effort.

The zoning specific to Rancho Sahuarita was approved in 1995 shortly after the Town of Sahuarita was incor porated. The formation of the Sahuarita Water Company and the approval of the Sahuarita Wastewater facility followed several years later.

Retail, commercial, health and wellness, government and non-profit services have expanded in the area through the development of the Rancho Sahuarita Marketplace and the Sahuarita Town Center. Five major national homebuilders remain active at Rancho Sahuarita. Sharpe’s son, Jeremy, is now the president of Sharpe & Associates, the developer.

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University of Arizona, Tech Parks Arizona, UA Tech Park & UA Tech Park at The Bridges

Tech Parks Arizona, a unit of The University of Arizona, is a multi-year winner of the Common Ground Awards for both the UA Tech Park and UA Tech Park at The Bridges, which brings together industry, government and academia to advance business.

Tech Parks Arizona has brought together various stakeholders to develop purpose-built environments to support businesses and facilitate university-industry interactions for nearly three decades. Over the course of 29 years, Tech Parks Arizona has worked across campus with different UArizona Colleges and departments, and also with businesses, utility providers, federal agencies, contractors, vendors, commercial brokers and land developers. Tech Parks Arizona has reimagined the traditional workspace through the perspective of the user and designed it to be very flexible with the ability to rapidly evolve based on insight gained from the parks’ extensive collaborators network.

Tech Parks Arizona creates environments that support and promote research and development, technology innovation and advancement, and business development and attraction. The UA Tech Park is an economic powerhouse contributing $2 billion annually to the local economy. It is a major employment with over 100 companies and nearly 6,000 knowledge workers. Covering 1,267 acres, the UA Tech Park at Rita Road is a destination for technology companies from startups to tech giants which significantly contribute to Tucson’s regional economy.

UA Tech Park at The Bridges is a 65-acre development in central Tucson with a long-term plan for 1.2 million square feet of office and laboratory space and room for about 5,000 employees. It is part of the 350acre, mixed-use development just north of Interstate 10 west of Kino Parkway known as “The Bridges”.

The first building on the site, The Refinery, opened in 2022 with 50% of the building committed to UArizona departments including Tech Launch Arizona, UArizona Applied Research Corporation, and UA Online, Distance and Continuing Education. Earlier this year, the first corporate tenant was attracted, Raytheon Missiles & Defense, which is leasing 14,000 square feet of office space at the four-story building. The Refinery is a 120,000-square-foot building whose name emphasizes its proximity to the talent and sharp minds that can be mined from the University of Arizona. This unique opportunity allows leading-edge technology companies to recruit the best and brightest, which in turn provides graduates with engaging employment and students with hands-on internships.

“We are excited to partner with the University of Arizona and the Tech Parks team on what we expect will be the first of many buildings within The Bridges,” said Matt Jensen, a partner and project manager with The Boyer Company, which built The Refinery. “This project has been a long time in the making and is the direct result of strong leadership within the university.”

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