BizTucson Spring 2024 Special Section The Power of Real Estate

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Driving a Thriving Community


Ventana Canyon


OF Driving a Thriving Community

Building an economy in a community is a concept that literally starts from the ground up.

To build homes, you need real estate.

To build businesses, you need real estate.

To build schools, you need real estate.

The power of real estate is the power to serve as one of the foundations of all that goes on in a community − its growth, its identity, its way of life, says Judy Lowe, CEO of the Tucson Association of REALTORS®.

“It’s the basic foundation of everything,” Lowe said. “It’s the land under us. It’s what’s on top of that land. It’s the people that live on that land.

“Real estate is the foundation, and from that foundation grows all of the ancillary pieces that support the utilization of the land. It touches every aspect of our society here in Southern Arizona.”

Anything so crucial to a community obviously comes with challenges – where to grow, how much to grow and, critically, how to grow. The decades-old debate in the Tucson region continued on page 104 >>>

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continued from page 103 has centered on how to avoid losing the community’s identity as a small and caring town while managing its growth into a metropolitan area of more than 1 million.

“There’s definitely a small-town element in Tucson even though we’ve seen a significant number of growth paths,” said David Godlewski, a Midwest transplant who arrived in Tucson in 2008 to work for the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association. He’s been the executive director since 2011. “It’s very clear, even to someone like me who came from the Midwest, that there are certain values and ethics in this community when it comes to growth.

“You only need to live here for a couple of weeks before you’re making sure you’re turning off the faucet when you don’t need it. We’ve got programs like the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan that have been put in place to try and make sure we’re protecting the most biologically rich environmental areas but still allowing growth. I would like to think that these things are not mutually exclusive − that we can protect historic

neighborhoods, that we can protect the environment, and we can still accommodate growth.”

Therein lies the challenge, both on the residential and commercial sides of real estate if a community is going to not only exist but thrive, said Barbi Reuter, CEO of Cushman & Wakefield |

PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services, one of the leading commercial real estate brokers in the region.

There are so many facets to the real estate ecosystem – land deals, infrastructure, construction, lending, sales and, of course, government. It makes one wonder how everything can possibly be coordinated to simply build a home or to complete a more complex project like an industrial complex.

It all has to come together for the good of the community and for the good of the economy.

“I’ve often said that commercial real estate and a thriving community go hand in hand,” Reuter said. “We all want to live in thriving communities, and jobs drive a thriving community. People need places to live, they need places to work, they need places to play,

and real estate really underpins all of that.”

The hope is that each facet of the real estate ecosystem is doing its part for the overall good of the region and to set the area apart from other communities, so when the time comes for a family or a business to make a move, they see a sense of place in Southern Arizona.

There’s a reason that, particularly since the COVID pandemic, people and businesses are coming here. Locals say the Tucson region is unique in its culture, its identity and its livability. Many here want to preserve that, but at the same time, accommodate those who want to come here. It has historically led to friction over growth, although some say recent years of collaboration have eased some tensions.

The job of the REALTORS® has become more complicated, or at least

Gladden Farms

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TOR® is very dramatic right now,” Lowe said. “They’re being challenged to look at what’s going on in the communities from where people are leaving. They need to be visiting Vail looking at open houses and looking at developments and building a knowledge base. They need to be learning about the water issues in Arizona.”

As g rowth spreads out over the valley, one of the aspects of what makes the region unique also presents a constant challenge. The surrounding mountains that draw new residents for their beauty and often impact decisions on where to live, also limit where land is available for homes and businesses.

It’s taking detailed planning, projections and some risk to make the next land deal whether it’s for commercial or residential development.

Diamond Ventures took that risk

Mountains provide attractive vistas to the east of the development.

Available land in those areas made it possible for two communities, and others like them, to follow and provide places to, as Picor’s Reuter said, live, work and play.

Jeremy Sharpe’s late father, Bob, took a risk on 3,000 acres for Rancho Sahuarita in 1993 and didn’t break ground until 2000. The community is 2,000 homes away from selling out the 9,000 in the master plan. The build-out has included plenty of commercial, amenities and even schools for the residents living there. Jobs for many of those residents are nearby with easy access on Interstate 10.

“I give tremendous credit and respect to my father who took on the risk to start Rancho Sahuarita,” Sharpe said. “At the core of it, it takes a tenacious leader and entrepreneur who has the vi-

n it comes to land development, a multitude of pieces must come together: the planners who first look at a e for its feasibility and whether infrastructure is in place or needs to be built;


analysts who try to project the price and pace and sales of homes if the land is for residential development; companies looking to relocate want to know if their employees will have places to live, not to mention grocery stores to shop.

Then, there’s the identity of the community that must be considered. Developers who take the time to learn about the region are the ones who have the most success, said SAHBA’s Godlewski.

“The big thing is that Tucson is a very relationship-based town. People want to feel like those investing their capital in the community are also committed to the same values as its residents,” Godlewski said.

“Tucson is a place where you know the police, you know the superintendent, you know people at the U of A and in civic organizations. I think that’s a key part for any new business, a builder or otherwise, to really try and make an effort to get to know the community. You still have a business to run, but in Tucson, we like people who respect and appreciate the uniqueness of the place.”


the foundation, and from that foundation grows all of the ancillary pieces that support the utilization of the land. It touches every aspect of our society here in Southern Arizona.”
– Judy Lowe CEO Tucson Association of REALTORS®
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Coyote Creek Biz

Planning for Growth

Developers Seek Available Land to Foster Communities

The mountains that shape Tucson’s identity with their stature and beauty are also formidable for their impact on where, and often how, the region grows.

It’s common to see references about “views” in the marketing and advertising for residential communities, particularly the active master-planned developments that skirt the metro area. The mountain views have been a big part of tourism strategies over the years.

And while the region is by no means landlocked by the Catalina, Rincon, Santa Rita and Tucson mountains, the ranges have created definitive corridors where growth is taking place − northwest in and through Marana, southeast toward Vail and Benson, west toward the distant town of Ajo, and south to Sahuarita toward Green Valley and Nogales.

The four most active master-planned communities are predictably in those corridors. Rocking K is 5,000 acres to the southeast. Rancho Sahuarita has been developing on 3,000 acres to the south for more than 20 years. Star Valley to the west has become one of the most active developments. And at Gladden Farms in Marana, all 1,350 acres of land have been gobbled up by builders who are filling it with homes, businesses and amenities.

From a space availability standpoint, Marana and vicinity has wider open spaces and, importantly, a desire to

grow. The developable land in the area has mostly been farmland, so it’s flat with few complications like flood plains and drainage issues.

Yet, while growth is welcome, Marana, like most communities with a long history, has a core of longtime residents who care about how it grows, said Jason Angell, development services director for the Town of Marana.

“It was always small-town Marana up until just a couple of years ago, and now the population and development boom has really taken off for us and it’s

Land is king. It just is. If you have it, you can grow.”
– Will White Land Broker Land Advisors Organization

been consistent,” Angell said.

That consistency is the challenge for the community, Angell said.

“How do we get in front of development and drive toward the vision that we have for Marana rather than reacting to development that is coming in?” Angell said. “Marana is a very businessand development-friendly community so we’re not looking to slow it down. We’re just looking to better position it.”

Though Marana considers its east and west boundaries to be the mountains, planners want to keep the growth within shouting distance of Interstate 10, Angell said. Gladden Farms, its largest development, is just a stone’s throw from the freeway, as is a major industrial development being built by Flint Development.

“We really want to stay probably a couple of miles off of I-10 in both directions,” Angell said. “Along the major thoroughfares like Tangerine Road makes sense because it’s a connection to Oro Valley, and then Avra Valley Road out to Avra Valley is another connection point there. So outside of that, the interstate is really what’s driving us.”

Land is a little tougher equation diagonally across the valley from Marana, to the southeast toward Vail and Benson, says Will White, land broker for Land Advisors Organization which brokers land deals for developers.

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Rick Kauffman Rocking K Mountain View Ranch
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Marana Dove Mountain Jason Angell

continued from page 106

The abundance of Arizona state land east and southeast of Tucson means it takes years for a significant piece of land to come available for future development. First, the state must decide to make a parcel available. It has to go to auction. The winning bidder either has to make the investment in infrastructure or find a developer who will so it can proceed with commercial or residential development.

The development at Rocking K notwithstanding, land availability is tight in the area, so much so that White has been sounding an alarm since at least the COVID pandemic that something has to give to make more land available to accommodate the region’s growth. Because of the long-term vision that master-planned communities have to have, the currently available land is within those communities and thus where the growth will be, White said.

“Land is king. It just is,” he said. “If you have it, you can grow. If you don’t have it, or you have trouble getting ac-

cess to it, then you have challenges and you have constraints. That’s what the region is seeing now.

“The economy is based on jobs that you’re going to create here. You have industrial, logistics, distribution, manufacturing. Those are doing well. And then housing also drives the economy by producing jobs or trades and building the houses and all the different components. That’s the one that suffers if the homebuilders cannot get enough land opened up.”

David Godlewski, president and CEO of Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association, calls it a “practical reality” that developers must head to the northwest, southwest and the southeast to create new master planned communities.

Rick Kauffman, principal and CEO at Holualoa Companies, which boasts a portfolio of multi-family, office, retail and industrial space, knows which direction his company is headed, not just figuratively, but literally.

“The room for major developments

is in the southeast and northwest, it’s sort of following along I-10,” he said. “As a developer, you don’t really have that much choice. That’s where the land is. You have to go there.”

Godlewski said there are pockets of available land within the city, but those often face more scrutiny and challenges than the outlying properties in the form of height restrictions, neighborhood opposition, density limitations and infill regulatory burdens.

In the outlying areas and towns, planners have a clear idea of what works for them and what doesn’t, he said. If you have a plan that aligns with that vision, you’re often welcome to bring your growth.

“They’ve each got a different approach or characteristics,” Godlewski said, citing Sahuarita and Marana as examples. “I think that the towns have done a very good job of valuing or establishing their own vision for their communities. That ultimately affects homebuilding and real estate.”

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Master Planning Creates Integrated Communities

Home Builders Flock to Large Developments

Understanding the “sense of place” that many feel characterizes the Tucson region is a key success factor for the home builder exploring new opportunities in Southern Arizona.

“The home builders that find real success in Tucson embrace the unique nature of our community,” said David Godlewski, president of Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, the trade organization that advocates for builders in the region.

“Every once in a while, you’ll hear about a builder who will come to town and they might get a project started, then we’ll hear back from them that Tucson is just a different place,” Go dlewski said.

That those who live here treasure the area’s unique qualities certainly isn’t keeping home builders from com ing here. While rising interest rates and construction costs have slowed the mar ket since the boom that came during and right after the COVID pandemic, builders remain enthusiastic here. About 4,000 homes were permitted in 2023.

“Home builders accelerated permit activity in Spring 2023 and the start of new homes in anticipation of favorable market conditions touted nationally,” Karen Schutte, managing editor of the TREND report wrote in the March report that covers Southern Arizona’s home building market. “Strong de mand required aggressive, new home permitting policies to have products available for delivery months ahead.”

Where to build remains one of the long-term questions for home builders says Will White, land broker for Land Advisors Organization which brokers the land deals that ultimately become master-planned communities and subdivisions usually a year or more down the road.

“I think the region is really running with a lot of horsepower,” White said. “The region’s focus needs to be on how we create enough runway of land that

we can allow the home builders to do their job and get busy creating good communities and meeting the demand of the consumer.”

The home building market currently is centered on the active masterplanned communities that circle the region, White said, because that’s where the land is available that is ready for homes to be built.

“Builders are buying about 75% of all their land out of those masterplanned communities just because that’s the most efficient way to do it,” White said. “The developers of those projects get the lots ready for them, they get them approved, they have the master infrastructure built.

“The builders really can just buy what they understand, which are lots where they can have pretty uninterrupted, constant delivery to them. The master-plan market share is probably going to continue to increase because that’s the path of least resistance for the home builders.”

Within Pima County, the three master-planned communities with available land for home builders are Rocking K to the southeast of the metro area toward Vail, Rancho Sahuarita south of Tucson, and Star Valley, southwest of the metro area. Gladden Farms, a 1,350-acre master-planned development in Marana has sold all its land to builders and homes are still going up there. Just on the other side of the Pima/Pinal County line is Red Rock which has available land.

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Rancho Sahuarita Gladden Farms Jeremy Sharpe Rocking K Rocking K

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David Goldstein, president of Diamond Ventures, the developer of Rocking K, suggests that master-planned communities aren’t just convenient for the builders. He says they have a specific role in the overall development of a community. They can cater to first-time buyers all the way to the luxury-home buyer.

The term “master plan,” Goldstein said, implies there’s consistency in a project allowing home builders and buyers to understand what to expect when they move into one.

“When you open up a masterplanned community, you put together covenants, restrictions and design guidelines to protect the integrity of the whole community,” Goldstein said. “The beauty of a master-planned community is you build it in phases. You get feedback on what works and what doesn’t work, and it evolves over time.”

An evolution at Rocking K took place early in its development. When Diamond Ventures bought the land 40 years ago, the early stages of the master

plan included a resort and golf course on the north side of Old Spanish Trail which splits the 5,000 acres at Rocking K. And while that’s still under consideration for a future date, Goldstein said, the construction that has been taking place on 2,000 acres on the south side of the road has been residential. The plan for the southern development alone is for 4,500 homes.

Rancho Sahuarita is roughly twothirds of the way to the 9,000 homes to be built in its plan, said developer Jeremy Sharpe. The 3,000-acre community actually has entitlements for 10,500 homes. Development of the first home sites began in 2000.

“A true master plan integrates multiple uses, various types of commercial, various types of residential, and then a very in-depth focus on community and community building,” Sharpe said. “That’s a huge part of what we try to do. But large-scale community development on any level is challenging. It’s become even more challenging because of the cost of land, because of the cost of infrastructure, because of entitle-

ment risks and market risks.”

Jeff Grobstein, region president at Meritage Homes, said the masterplanned communities provide some of the stability that home builders are looking for with infrastructure and amenities in place to help builders plan their projects. But there’s more to the business for the builders who are here.

“I think I can speak on behalf of most builders, we do look outside of master plans, and we do obtain land for communities outside of master plans,” Grobstein said. “They do typically take a little longer to bring online because we may have some sort of rezoning effort or entitlement effort to bring those online

“In our portfolio of forward planning, we try to create a good mix of communities that are in good areas where we’ll be able to get into a particular buyer segment. It may take us two to three years to get through the entitlement effort and then another year to develop it, but we look at those outside areas in every market.”

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SAHBA Builds a Better Community

Advocacy, Outreach for the Home Building Industry

The members of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association are not just proponents of building houses: they are advocates for building vibrant and prosperous communities.

“We want Tucson to be a place that thrives,” said David Godlewski, president and CEO of SAHBA. “Our members are working very hard to meet the future housing needs of the community with purpose, with pride, with building high-quality products and helping enhance the greater well-being of the Tucson region.”

SAHBA, a nonprofit, member-based trade association, has 330 members and has been serving Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties for more than 70 years.

Members run the gamut from large and small home builders, landowners and developers to contractors, subcontractors, vendors and other businesses that support homebuilder operations.

“Anything that goes into building a home, from land and horizontal construction to vertical construction and getting the homeowner into the house is considered part of our family and ecosystem,” said Godlewski.

Constructing Homes, Building Relationships

The SAHBA ecosystem and the general public are served by a four-pronged plan comprised of Advocacy; Education and Awareness; Networking and Professional Development; and Community Building.

“Our primary objective is to create a favorable policy and regulatory climate for our members to make it as straight-

forward as possible to build a home,” Godlewski said.

Advocacy means working hand-inhand with local municipalities to help prepare and implement building and land-use codes, architectural standards and other regulations. SAHBA works directly with elected and non-elected government officials in county and city governments, coordinating with development services, transportation, utilities and various agencies involved with planning, permitting, approvals, inspections and other policies. Political campaigns and initiatives are also a focus.

“We have a Political Action Committee that advocates for candidates who support the building community at the local and state levels and the National Association of Home Builders advocates on the federal level,” said Steve Crawford, 2024 SAHBA board chair. He is also CEO of Pepper Viner Homes, a seven-time recipient of SAHBA Builder of the Year award. “That advocacy allows new homes to be as affordable as possible. Affordable new homes are a vital component of a vibrant community and a major factor in quality of life.”

Advocacy segues into member education on topics such as sales and marketing; remodeling; green building and technology; and generalized information on building activity, market forecasts and industry trends.

Outreach extends to the general public through the map of new home communities as well as the SAHBA Buyers Guide, both available online. The free directory features a comprehensive, user-friendly list of SAHBA members.

“This is a great resource for people who want to build a new home or need work done on an existing home and aren’t sure where to start,” said Crawford. “It is a big task, and if they use the SAHBA Buyers Guide to make contacts, they can have confidence that they are dealing with the best builders, subcontractors and businesses in the community.”

Community Building is a cornerstone of SAHBA’s mission, and workforce development is a key element. Partnerships with the Home Builders Institute at the Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center, Pima Joint Technical Education District and other organizations facilitate development of the labor force.

“We are seeing fewer people choosing the construction trades for their vocation and the majority of the current cohort of people in trades are approaching retirement. That has been a big challenge for our members,” said Godlewski.

To counter the challenge, SAHBA partners with other organizations to stage Southern Arizona Construction Career Days. The annual event offers hands-on demonstrations about the construction industry, exposure to heavy equipment, and professional networking opportunities for high school students. Partners include the Arizona Builders Alliance, Alliance for Construction Trades, and Arizona Transportation Builders Association.

“SAHBA is helping to ensure that there is a future pipeline of skilled workers to build homes,” Godlewski said. “We want to create awareness among middle school and high school

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a favorable policy and regulatory climate for our members to make it as straightforward as possible to build a home.”
– David Godlewski President Southern Arizona Home Builders Association

students that the construction trade is a viable, well-paying career path with a lot of opportunities.”

Community Building is also hallmarked by charitable contributions. The SAHBA Golf Classic and various fundraising events funnel tens of thousands of dollars annually into nonprofit housing organizations such as Sister Jose Women’s Center, TMM Family Services, Habitat for Humanity, and other causes.

SAHBA also supports the Peter D. Herder Endowment Scholarship, which provides scholarships for students seeking professional certification or degrees in building and construction at Pima Community College.

“We think it is important to give back to the community that gives us so much and allows us to work and thrive,” said Crawford. “Our charitable work is a way for us to be part of not just the building world, but the entire community.”

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Pepper Viner Homes Dove Mountain Rancho Sahuarita Steve Crawford
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REALTORS® Help Chase the ‘Dream’

Connecting Buyers to Land and Real Estate

For individuals and families chasing the American dream, the Tucson Association of REALTORS® is a valuable resource for REALTORS who are connecting buyers and sellers in Southern Arizona.

“Owning a home is part of the American Dream. Home and property ownership is a way for people to build wealth and stability,” said Cathy Wolfson, 2024 board president of Tucson Association of REALTORS®. “As members of the association, we believe that a thriving real estate market is critical to the vitality of our communities and to a healthy economy.”

A champion of everything real estate, the TAR is a force with more than 6,500 members. TAR comprises a diverse group of real estate professionals, including licensed agents and brokers, representatives of the mortgage and lending industry, property managers and others who serve the real estate needs of Southern Arizona.

“Our members are united by adherence to professional standards and a code of ethics,” said Judy Lowe, CEO of TAR. “They are professionals dedicated to providing assistance with the sales, leases, appraisals and development of residential and commercial properties.”

The association seeks to strengthen the success of members by advocating, connecting, educating, and serving.

To accomplish these objectives, TAR supports its members and the com-

munity through an extensive in-house REALTOR® education program, collaborating with industry partners to advocate for property rights and real estate issues, connecting REALTORS® with the Multiple Listing Service of Southern Arizona – or MLSSAZ – a database of available home and land properties that consumers can search. TAR also serves the community through volunteerism and grants to local nonprofits through the Tucson REALTORS® Charitable Foundation.

TAR provides its REALTOR® members with an extensive in-house professional development education program, meeting state and national requirements for continuing education and specialized industry designations.

TAR also works with the Real Estate Political Action Committee locally and at the state and national level to support legislation that benefits private property rights, the real estate industry, and the consumer.

“We believe the freedom to buy, sell and utilize property is an inherent right for all that must be protected,” said Lowe.

As the largest trade association in Southern Arizona, TAR members collaborate regularly with city, county and state government entities to address property value-related issues such as water conservation, the housing supply, affordable housing, building restrictions and zoning laws. It also partners with other trade associations such as

the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and Certified Commercial Investment Members.

About 90,000 individuals statewide hold real estate licenses that enable them to act as salespersons and brokers for buyers or sellers. Only 50,000 can claim the title of REALTOR®.

“Holding a real estate license doesn’t make someone a REALTOR®. As REALTORS®, our code of ethics and professional standards are high: we commit to providing all clients and communities with accurate information, exceptional service, and trusted advice,” said Wolfson, an associate broker with Coldwell Banker Realty who has been a local REALTOR® for almost 40 years.

The REALTOR® designation brings other benefits such as the use of standardized forms specific to Arizona that comply with state and federal law/ regulations, which in turn helps protect the consumer.

In affiliation with the MLSSAZ, TAR connects REALTORS® with consumers in the home buying and selling process.

“Buyers from across the country and around the world can see our properties in Tucson remotely,” said Wolfson.

The REALTOR® designation is required for agents to list properties on the MLSSAZ. The online marketing platform provides comprehensive, in-depth information about all active properties in the market.

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and utilize property is an inherent right for all that must be protected.”
– Judy Lowe CEO Tucson Association of REALTORS®

Property professionals take philan thropy to the next level through the Tucson REALTORS® Charitable Foundation.

“REALTORS® give back out of the goodness of their hearts. When we help our community, it helps everyone, and it helps our businesses. It is a win for the community, a win for us, and a win for our souls and the souls of our custom ers,” said Wolfson.

The foundation has awarded grants to nearly 100 nonprofits in the community since inception. The grants have benefitted organizations representing diverse interests. Last year alone, the foundation gifted more than $66,500 to 15 organizations.

Funds are frequently accompanied by hands-on support from TAR members in the form of in-kind donations and volunteer hours.

“We raise money for so many nonprofits that I never knew existed. It helps create awareness about what is out there and the many needs in the community,” Wolfson said. “We want to spread the goodness.”

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, REALTORS® volunteer at twice the rate of the general population.

“We believe that all of us partnering together creates the power of real estate in Southern Arizona,” said Wolfson. Biz

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Dove Mountain Miramonte Homes Cathy Wolfson

From the Ground Up

Honoring the Construction Ecosystem

To count the multitude of vendors, contractors, suppliers, financers and administrative and regulatory functions involved in building a home or a commercial building is almost an exercise in futility.

From where it starts with the land acquisition and preparation, to where it finishes when an owner is handed the keys, construction of a home or building is its own ecosystem.

“It’s a big process even at the least expensive level of housing,” said Jeff Grobstein, region president for Meritage Homes, one of the national builders in the region. As the developer, Meritage is the general contractor on its projects and therefore organizes and manages all its construction.

“The number of hands that touch a home during the process is almost un-

believable,” Grobstein said. “The number kind of blows you away. There are so many hands, so many touch points in every single phase.”

Jeremy Sharpe, president of Sharpe & Associates, the developer of Rancho Sahuarita south of Tucson, compares a developer to a quarterback executing a game plan with critical calls from the very start.

“With the master-planned community, the developer acts as a quarterback,” he said. “They’re coordinating infrastructure. They’re working with the public sector within the realms of their entitlements. They’re coordinating the water, sewer, road infrastructure.”

Then comes construction, which is where a builder like Meritage Homes comes in with subcontractors, material suppliers and, critically, labor – a com-

ponent of the process that has been in short supply, particularly since the COVID pandemic.

“There’s been a gap in vocational training,” Grobstein said. “To attract people to come in and do that work, even if they’re non-skilled, and then hope that they stick with it, has caused costs to go up quite a bit.”

It all ties to keeping the construction process moving by coordinating the materials, making sure labor is available, so that the precise timing of everything makes construction as efficient as possible because lost time is lost money.

Stephanie Peacock, a general contractor for Eren Design and Remodel, said timing is everything. With about 20 subcontractors involved in her projects, she said if the timing is thrown off by

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Rancho Sahuarita


Meritage Homes

“The number of a home during the process is almost unbelievable. The number kind of blows you away. There are so many hands, so many touch points in every single phase.”
– Jeff Grobstein Region President Meritage Homes in Tucson

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weather, late completion of a phase of a project, even an illness by a subcontractor, everyone is affected.

“You’re constantly kind of juggling,” Peacock said, noting that about half the projects have some kind of timing issue. But eventually, there’s a reward.

“Honestly, our clients are pretty phenomenal people,” she said, adding that the satisfaction in a project comes from “just helping them with something that they can’t do themselves.”

Aside from the physical construction are the financing, accounting and inspections that add to the ecosystem. Title companies handle the paperwork and coordinate all the processes that need to be assembled to legally turn a property over to the buyer.

Most buyers finance their homes and work with a lender like NOVA Home Loans or one of hundreds of others that are in any market.

Tom Heath, VP and senior loan officer at NOVA, uses another football analogy to describe where financing fits in the ecosystem. There are so many parts to financing, he said, a mortgage company has to make sure the players are in the right positions to avoid game-changing mistakes, especially when timing is critical.

“You can have a really talented wide receiver, but if you put them on the offensive line, they’re not going to do very well,” Heath said. “If you’ve got the right people in the right positions then it should go pretty smoothly. From a consumer standpoint, it should almost be uneventful.”

Chris Edwards, owner of Tucson Appliance, enters another part of the ecosystem, more often in the middle of the process if a new-home buyer wants to upgrade the appliances provided by a builder or if an existing homeowner wants new ones.

“Appliances are an important part of the entire house,” Edwards said. “Some people actually build around the kitchen. The cabinets and the aesthetics of it are very important to them.”

Even in his relatively small part of the process, Edwards said he’s well aware of the massive coordination it takes to complete a con-

’s a collaborative timing issue,” Edwards said. “They have to the floor, then they have to do the cabinets and then they can do the plumbing. Then they put in the appliances. The way the architects have these planned out is just like clockwork. It’s amazing the way Biz
Tom Heath Chris Edwards
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Marana Rancho Sahuarita
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Courting Commercial

Region Makes Strides in Ready Industrial Space

The decision points around the lease or purchase of a commercial property are as varied as the businesses looking for a piece of Tucson real estate.

It might be a large company or manufacturer looking to relocate to the region and in need of thousands of square feet of industrial space and resources like power and water. They might want something new or something move-in ready.

It might be a small firm looking for office space for a handful of employees.

But there is one common denominator when a broker is helping a business find a property, says Barbi Reuter, CEO at Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services.

“We look at what is going to be a business solution for them, to help them

meet their company objectives,” Reuter said.

Her company went through that decision process five years ago when it moved.

“We had outgrown a building that we were in for 20 years,” she said. “We created a new space that allowed people to collaborate in a different way.”

Having been 20 years since the company’s last move, Reuter said considerations have changed dramatically for businesses, particularly in the age of working remotely. As a client and the broker, her company was on both sides of the table in the process.

“You would think that would make it so much easier to be your own client because we understand the business,” she said. “But you have a lot of stakehold-

ers to satisfy. You want to make sure it’s a marriage you like.”

For Sun Corridor Inc., the availability of commercial and industrial property is one of the key elements of its work – to attract business and industry to Tucson. Coming out of the COVID pandemic, Sun Corridor led a community effort to identify solutions where the region had to make strides. That included the availability of large parcels of land and move-in ready facilities for the many targets for relocation and expansion.

Available labor is generally the first requirement for a company considering the area. Right after that, is a place to be. What has changed in those searches, Welsh said, is the focus on water avail-

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Tucson Commerce Center Barbi Reuter


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ability. Now, it’s about power.

Sun Corridor has 16 projects in its “pipeline” that are looking for 50 acres or more of real estate with more need for power than water.

“The uses that they’re going to put on there are extremely power intensive,” said David Welsh, executive VP at Sun Corridor. “A 10-megawatt project would be a big project for us five, six years ago. We’re seeing multiple 100-megawatt projects come in with more robotics, more intensive use of power on site.”

Flint Development has addressed some of the need for move-in-ready industrial space. The Tucson Commerce Center on Valencia Road near Tucson International Airport has more than 800,000 square feet of space. Another spec project in Marana is nearly 1 million square feet.

“It’s helping immensely,” Welsh said. “We were not a community that enjoyed a lot of spec building. There wasn’t confidence in the local market. Seeing that go in is an expression of confidence of the development community.”

DSW Commercial Real Estate, where Michael Sarabia is the principal, has clients with more basic needs and, consequently, more real estate options. DSW manages commercial properties such as shopping centers, office complexes and multi-family residential.

In his world, real estate is readily available when, for instance, a Starbucks is looking for a spot, which it found on a lot at the southeast corner of Campbell Avenue and Grant Road, or when a restaurant is looking to open or relocate.

“The old adage of location, location, location hasn’t changed,” Sarabia said. “But that location is contingent on what you’re actually going to put there.

“For example, if I want to do a hotel, I’ll probably look closer to the central business district or look around the university. If I’m looking at housing, I’m going to look at employment in the area. I’m going to look at drive time from employment, and I’m going to look at average incomes.”

“There are pads. There is availability,” he said. “Tucson has the land and the infrastructure to keep up with it to be able to sufficiently and adequately build these projects.” Biz
David Welsh Marana American Battery Factory’s new 2-million-square-foot gigafactory
130 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 BizREALESTATE
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