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SPECIAL REPORT 2017

THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

TOWN OF

MARANA BUSINESS FRIENDLY & GROWING FAST

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PHOTO: AMY HASKELL PHOTO: SEAN PARKER PHOTOGRAPHY

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Ed Stolmaker President & CEO Marana Chamber of Commerce

Ryan Mahoney Development Services Director Town of Marana

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BizCOMMUNITY

Open for Business in Marana

Resorts, Retail and Infrastructure Boost Onetime Farming Community

PHOTOS: COURTESY TOWN OF MARANA

By David Pittman

It’s easy for anyone passing through Marana without getting off at any of the town’s six freeway exits to view the community as a wide-open, rural stretch of desert and cotton fields on the way to Tucson. While Marana is extremely spread out and has enormous swaths of open, undeveloped land, those drive-by views are deceiving. According to a July 2016 population estimate by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, Marana has the second-highest population of any incorporated area in Pima County at just over 43,000, and is the fastest growing community in Southern Arizona. Greg Wexler is a real estate developer, property manager, consultant and entrepreneur with widespread business interests in Marana, Oro Valley and northern Pima County. He is among a growing group who believe Marana is destined for decades of strong economic growth. “Marana has an airport, an interstate highway running through it and huge amounts of developable land,” Wexler said. Curt Woody, director of Marana’s Economic Development & Tourism Department, is also confident the town will be the primary growth area in the Tucson region for many years. “Marana’s location, near Tucson and on the way to Phoenix, is ideal,” he said. “Nineteen miles of I-10, a major artery of the Sun Corridor, bisects the town. Marana contains 122 square miles

of land and has thousands of acres to develop.” Marana has been No. 1 in Pima County in issuing single-family residential housing permits three of the last four years. “People who haven’t explored Marana lately would be surprised at what a significant town it is becoming,” said David Mehl, president and owner of Cottonwood Properties and the masterplanner of Dove Mountain, the high-end, 6,200acre residential community located in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains and within the Marana town limits. “Marana’s mayor (Ed Honea), the Town Council and the town manager (Gilbert Davidson) have put in place progressive, pro-business policies,” Mehl said. “It is a very encouraging community toward business that is seeking positive quality growth. Our experience in working with the town has been extremely positive.” Cottonwood Properties and HSL Properties, one of the region’s other prominent developers, purchased The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain resort for $45.5 million last June. The only Forbes five-star hotel in Arizona continues to be managed under contract by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. “We had a record year in 2016 at The RitzCarlton and our advanced bookings indicate this year will be even better,” Mehl said. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain and the continued on page 73 >>> Spring 2017

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BizCOMMUNITY

Gilbert Davidson Town Manager Town of Marana

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Marana Regional Airport have been discovered by the rich and famous in the worlds of technology, politics, finance and banking who are regularly flying their private jets into the airport and using the hotel for meetings and conferences. “I think most of the major corporate business leaders of innovative high-tech companies have been guests at our hotel,” Mehl said. “These executives are flying private jets into Marana to visit our resort because they are seeking an exclusive location with great amenities that also offers privacy. The economy is improving and our reputation is growing. The Ritz-Carlton is also doing a great job of managing the hotel. We are very pleased.” HSL Properties already owns a 272unit luxury apartment complex in Marana at 4688 W. Tangerine Road, and will soon build a second. “We are hoping to break ground in May or early June on a 304-unit luxury complex in Continental Ranch, adjacent to Quarry Pines Golf Course,” said HSL President Omar Mireles, adding, Marana “is a great place to do business” and is destined for substantial growth. “The rules of engagement are very clear in Marana and they have a very professional staff,” he said. “You know exactly what to expect. Marana has a lot of room to expand and we see it as a growth area. It is the gateway to Tucson from Phoenix and the north. Demographic reports, as far as Arizona is concerned, indicate a nexus of growth is Casa Grande. Eventually that area will probably all be connected as one large metro.” Davidson, Marana’s town manager, said development of Dove Mountain and The Ritz-Carlton has been “transformative” for Marana and described Mehl as “an incredible visionary.” Cottonwood Properties started development of Dove Mountain in 1996. The Ritz-Carlton resort opened 13 years later. “The addition of one of the finest resorts in the entire country into Marana has been a blessing,” Davidson said. “Prior to The Ritz-Carlton, we owned a nice little airport. But today it has taken on a life of its own because of www.BizTucson.com

The Ritz-Carlton and the jet traffic flying into Marana that previously didn’t exist. Some of the wealthiest business leaders in the world are using our airport to get to The Ritz-Carlton. “When Hillary Clinton addressed leaders from Goldman Sachs before she announced her candidacy for president, that speech was not given in New York or Los Angeles, but here in Marana at The Ritz-Carlton,” he said. Davidson regards the Marana Regional Airport as an economic development tool for the town to take advantage of. “There are people flying into our airport who have never been to the Sonoran Desert before and their first experience is here in the Tortolita Mountain area with its beautiful vistas and desert topography,” he said. “It’s very exciting. Growth is creating new opportunities that nobody could have possibly envisioned. If you had said 20 years ago that this activity was going to be happening in Marana, most people would have probably chuckled.” The town’s retail portfolio got a major boost when Tucson Premium Outlets opened in the fourth quarter of 2015 on the south side of Twin Peaks Road between I-10 and Linda Vista Boulevard. The 366,000-square-foot, open-air mall is owned by Simon Property Group, a global leader in retail real estate and an S&P 100 company. The mall features about 100 well-known brands, including Adidas, Banana Republic, Bebe, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Disney, Forever 21, Nike and Tommy Hilfiger. The Premium Outlets was the first project built at Marana Center, a 170acre, planned regional destination designed for shopping, dining, entertainment, hotels, auto dealerships, medical services and other commercial purposes. David Scholl, a partner of Vintage Partners, a Phoenix company that develops properties throughout Arizona, worked directly with the Town of Marana in developing the outlet mall. He said Marana’s reputation for being business friendly is well-deserved. “I’ve been developing projects for 30 years and one of the top experiences continued on page 74 >>> Spring 2017

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PHOTOS: COURTESY COTTONWOOD PROPERTIES

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BizCOMMUNITY

TOP 10 EMPLOYERS IN MARANA Sargent Aerospace FLSmidth Krebs MHC Healthcare TRICO Electric Coca Cola Comcast Lasertel Ridgetop Engineering International Towers, Inc.

continued from page 73 I’ve ever had in working with a municipality was in Marana building the Premium Outlets mall,” Scholl said. “Marana officials and their staffs were talented, dedicated and entrepreneurial. They also displayed a great sense of urgency in working with us to ensure tight deadlines we were facing were met.” The mall opened Oct. 1, 2015, on schedule and in time for that year’s Christmas season. “A lot of cities don’t care about construction deadlines, but the Town of Marana was committed to working with us to deliver results,” Scholl said. “That is not to say they roll over and let you do whatever you want. They have a lofty vision of what they want their city to look like and they require those standards to be adhered to.” Scholl said the town provided a permanent inspection team that met with builders and developers on a regular basis to iron out potential difficulties and help shepherd the project to completion. “They were hardworking, accessible and creative problem-solvers,” he said. 74 BizTucson

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Scholl believes the attitude will help Marana continue to grow toward a bright future. “The Town of Marana has done great planning and has a great vision for the community,” he said. “It is located on the I-10 corridor and has an excellent offering of homes, beautiful mountain views and the quality of life people are looking for. It’s an attractive place to call home.” Davidson said it is now customary for town staff to embrace business and assist new projects in getting up and running as much as possible. “We understood this was going to be a revenue-producing development that was going to bring significant sales tax revenue for our community, which could be used for public safety, roads or parks,” he said. “So the sooner we could get them open, the better it was for all of us. When you get people thinking about how to speed things up without sacrificing regulatory standards, it’s amazing how much time you can shave off a project.” The Arizona Pavilions, a well-established large shopping area on Cortaro Road just west of I-10, also continues

to thrive in Marana’s business environment. New stores opening at Arizona Pavilions include T.J. Maxx, Ross, Petco, HomeGoods and Dollar Tree. Two eateries, Taco Bell and Dunkin’ Donuts, were added at the Pavilions last year. Although Arizona Pavilions has a couple of pads still available, the shopping center is nearly built out and fully occupied. To support the growth, Marana has committed itself to improving its infrastructure, including a new Marana Police Department headquarters located at the Marana Municipal Complex. Construction is expected to begin in May and be completed in 2018. The new police facility – which will include holding facilities, an indoor shooting range, and high-tech officer training facilities – is expected to cost $21 million with $18 million raised through a four-year, half-cent sales tax approved by Marana voters. Mayor Honea said Marana residents overwhelmingly approved the sales tax increase because “they love our police department and the job being done by Police Chief Terry Rozema.” Rozema continued on page 76 >>> www.BizTucson.com

PHOTOS: COURTESY TOWN OF MARANA

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain


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BizCOMMUNITY MARANA EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

Marana Events & Festivals

2017 Schedule Marana Founders’ Day March 25, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., parade at 10 a.m., Ora Mae Harn Park Star Spangled Spectacular July 4, 5-9 p.m., Crossroads at Silverbell District Park Marana Cotton Festival October 21, 4-9 p.m., Marana Heritage River Park Marana Holiday Festival & Christmas Tree Lighting December 2, 3-8 p.m., Municipal Complex Roundabout Christmas on the Farm Post Farm, check wwww.maranachristmasonthefarm.com for dates Egg Nog Jog 5K New Year’s Day 2018, 8:30-11 a.m. Other Outdoor Activities Guided Hikes Wild Burro Trail and Tortolita Mountains. Second Saturday of the month, hikes and start times vary Major Shopping Districts Tucson Premium Outlets at Marana Center 6401 W. Marana Center Blvd. Arizona Pavilions 5755 W. Pavilions Drive Live Music/Movies in the Park Visit www.maranaevents.com for listings and locations Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance Free music series at Premium Outlets, every Saturday evening. Visit www.saaca.org for entertainment schedule Parks and Recreation Many activities and venues are available in Marana, including ball fields, basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, cycling and trails. Visit www.maranaaz.gov/recreation

For details on all events and activities, visit www.maranaaz.gov

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continued from page 74 was hired by Marana after nearly 24 years with the Tucson Police Department. “We did our due diligence before the sales tax increase went to the Town Council,” Honea said. “We went to the Chamber of Commerce and they fully supported the effort. We went to every HOA and talked to people. We went to Simon Malls, Home Depot, Lowes, Costco and all the big taxpayers and they told us one reason they do business here is because they feel safe. They said, ‘Build it.’ ” Davidson said the town is constantly looking to the future and preparing for it by creating the infrastructure needed for growth. He said Marana recently spent a great deal of time and money on wet utilities, such as water, sewer and sewage treatment. “You are not going to get any growth if you don’t have the water resources and we have a long-term strategic view on managing our water resources,” he said. The town acquired a wastewater treatment facility from Pima County following a long and contentious legal dispute that finally led to a settlement agreement. Marana wanted the treatment plant because by controlling effluent, or treated wastewater, and recharging it into the aquifer, the town can earn credits from the state that allow it to pump more groundwater and secure water needed for future development. Getting into the wastewater business has required significant investment from the town. In addition to buying the Pima County plant and all its conveyances at a cost of $21 million, Marana decided to upgrade the old plant and build a new one next door for $22 million for a total cost of $43 million. “There will be some elements that we will keep from the old plant, but for the most part it is going to be a whole different type of design,” Davidson said. “We are upgrading our wastewater facilities and expanding its capacity.” While Davidson acknowledges the price is high, he said it is worth every penny because water costs will rise significantly in the future and Marana is now in a much better position to control its growth destiny. Two major road projects are underway in Marana: an overpass on Ina Road over I-10 and extensive improvements to a 10-mile stretch of Tangerine Road from I-10 to La Cañada Drive. The overpass at Ina Road will also clear the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, which carry between 40 to 60 trains daily. Construction, continued on page 78 >>> www.BizTucson.com


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BizCOMMUNITY continued from page 76 which began last year, will cost $148 million and is being funded by the Regional Transportation Authority. In addition, the Town of Marana is providing $25 million for work that will widen Ina Road and reconstruct Ina Road bridges over the Santa Cruz River west of I-10. Honea said Marana will assist Ina Road businesses in any way it can to mitigate problems associated with the two-year closing of the interchange. The town has developed a “Project Ina” app to keep up with traffic alerts and news about affected business. The first phase of the Tangerine Road project, a five-mile segment from Dove Mountain Boulevard/Twin Peaks Road to La Cañada Drive, is well underway and is expected to be completed in 2018. Marana, Pima County and Oro Valley each share a portion of the Tangerine Road Corridor and are working together on the project with the Town of Marana as the lead agency. Concontinued on page 80 >>>

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Residents Tell Their Stories As Marana celebrates its 40-year anniversary throughout 2017, town leaders are offering residents and business owners a chance to share what is special to them about Marana through its “40 Years of Stories and 40 Years of Faces” online campaign. Following are a few edited samples. More can be found at www.maranaaz.gov/40-years. “This past summer, I went to New York City to compete in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. I go to Marana High School. I was given the pleasure and opportunity to work with several Broadway professionals. This is something I’m very proud of because I went representing my town and my school. My town is part of who I am and where I come from.” − Sarah Chico, age 17 “I love our small-town feel, our gorgeous desert sunsets, and the many diverse families you see sharing in laughter at community parks that surround our neighborhoods. Marana is a unique town filled with compassionate people and an ever-growing population. My wish for Marana is for us to continue growing and nurturing our strong sense of community. Our children are our future, and in Marana we value our next generation of compassionate and innovative thinkers.” − Amber Jones, age 34 “I was born at Tucson Medical Center and raised in Marana. The amazing education I received at Twin Peaks Elementary School, Marana Middle School and Marana High School helped me to win a scholarship to Northern Arizona University. I am currently a double-science major. My hometown has helped me be successful in an academic environment, and I will always be grateful. I love my hometown!” − Rachel Linker, age 21


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BizCOMMUNITY continued from page 78 struction will widen the roadway to four lanes with landscaped medians, and will install turning lanes, eliminate dips in the road, and provide facilities for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Ed Stolmaker, president and CEO of the Marana Chamber of Commerce, said widening Tangerine Road “will improve a major arterial corridor that is already viewed as a promising area for future growth.” While the economic outlook for Marana appears rosy, the town does face some unique economic development challenges. Incorporated in 1977 by local farming interests to protect their water rights, the new town had no Main Street, no downtown and no central core, and instead consisted of pockets of population centers, farms, ranches, desert and a few small, isolated neighborhoods. A long-term goal of Marana planners is to develop the town into a single community, rather than distinct, spread-out pockets of development currently referred to as “activity centers.”

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“The economic development plan we are going to be rolling out very soon is going to address how we make this a great place to invest and attract the people and businesses that will provide the infill to complete that mosaic,” Davidson said. Marana has developed a plan for a future downtown to be located in north Marana in the area where the town’s municipal complex and health center are located west of I-10 near Marana Road. However, much greater population density is needed before the Downtown Activity Center can flourish. “Downtown Marana as currently envisioned is a large activity center, identified as part of the council-approved single central business district,” says the town’s “Economic Roadmap,” unveiled in 2010 and updated in October 2015. “This area can include a variety of development areas tied together with unifying design features and a multimodal transportation network that might include a trolley or other form of transit and pedestrian system.”

Other activity identified in the Roadmap include The Dove Mountain Activity Center, Tangerine Road I-10 Activity Center, Tangerine Corridor Activity Center, Airport Activity Center, Twin Peaks Activity Center and South Marana Activity Center, which takes in the mix of retail and commercial business along Ina, Thornydale and Orange Grove roads. Another activity center includes Pinal Airpark. “While currently out of the town’s corporate limits, this center’s proximity to I-10, Pinal Airpark and planned rail system improvements provides tremendous opportunities for intermodal transportation, logistics and freight activities,” the Roadmap said. “The future potential of this activity center may hinge upon the town’s decision to annex and its success in annexing all or part of the area. Even if this area does not become part of the Town of Marana, the regional impacts of successful development in this activity center could be very positive for Marana.”

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Quality of Life a Community Effort Government & Residents Work Together

Linda Hampton Director Community Food Bank in Marana

Terry Rozema Police Chief Town of Marana

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The number of well-attended gatherings the Town of Marana organizes for its 43,000 citizens is testament to the sense of community that’s prevalent in this growing area north of Tucson. But it’s not just fun and games that inspire the homey cohesiveness here. It’s an all-in attitude that trickles down from the town’s leaders to the staff, and even organizations outside the government, that truly makes a difference in the quality of life. One of those public figures who is creating positive changes is Marana’s chief of police, Terry Rozema. Since arriving six years ago, he has transformed the culture of his police force and the department’s relationship with the public. Rozema has a different approach to policing than many law enforcement agents. He trains his officers to use all contacts with the public for strengthening community ties, rather than emphasizing an appearance of confrontation and authority. “When I first got here, there was a big push to write a lot of tickets. I’ve never been big on traffic enforcement through tickets, but I want to make a lot of stops because it changes behavior and instills goodwill toward the community.” Rozema said the difference is in how the officers conduct themselves, and if they have to write a ticket, he urges them to be compassionate. As a result of these changes in approach, in his first year as chief, Rozema saw the number of traf-

fic stops increase from 5,000 to 13,000 while the number of tickets written dropped from 14,000 to fewer than 1,000. Collisions decreased because traffic stops, not tickets, change drivers’ behaviors, according to Rozema’s philosophy. This relationship building also helped when Rozema needed money for a new police station. To fund the $21-million facility, the town needed to implement a half-cent sales-tax increase that will revert back once the money is raised. The Town Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the tax increase to raise $18 million of the needed funding, and groundbreaking for the new police station at the Municipal Complex campus will take place this summer. The Community Food Bank in Marana is a longtime leader in supporting the area’s citizens by distributing government-provided meals to qualifying families. Those in need of emergency food service who can show proof of county residency can pick up food one time a month, said the Food Bank’s director, Linda Hampton. “We also get private and retail food donations,” she said. “We can be more flexible with this, so they can come two times per month.” The requirement is that continued on page 84 >>>

BY THE NUMBERS Marana Cares Mobile Served 3,000 meals

October 2015 to December 2016 Kids eat free, parents pay $1

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By Christy Krueger


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Marana Unified School District Enrollment 2016-2017: 12,300 students 11 elementary schools 2 middle schools 2 high schools 1 alternative high school 1 ACE (Another Chance at Education) school – 8th grade and below

Doug Wilson Superintendent Marana Unified School District

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continued from page 82 they earn no more than 180 percent of the federal poverty level. With Marana’s recent uptick in business growth and higher-paying jobs, Hampton is noticing a decrease in need. Those numbers dropped from 3,000 per month two years ago to 2,700 now. “Our client base is declining and I hope it’s because they’re going back to work,” Hampton said. Her dream to expand services to help strengthen the community is becoming a reality, thanks to the donation of two portable offices. “We’re building a resource center so we can address the root causes of poverty,” she said. This will include assistance from Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse, the Diaper Bank and child nutritional education in the schools. Financial, budgeting and tax preparation help also will be offered. “Our community is very supportive of the Food Bank, including businesses, the Town of Marana and Chamber of Commerce. We want to make sure needs are met and we are building health for Marana,” Hampton said. When families are looking for a new community to settle into, one of the biggest priorities is often the quality of education. Having a solid educational system is important for a town like Marana that’s trying to grow. Marana Unified School District Superintendent Doug Wilson is serious about engaging students, parents and the community as a whole, as exemplified in his adaptation of a 21stcentury model of learning. Gladden Farms Elementary opened in August 2016 and already has 500 students enrolled in the 750-capacity school. It may become the standard of future Marana schools in both design and classroom curriculum. “We wanted the facility to be for the kids – one that can teach kids to be prepared for the future,” Wilson said. Quail Run and Gladden Farms are currently the only elementary schools in the state to initiate computer science programs. The reason this is important, Wilson said, is because by 2020 the need

for computer sciences jobs will be very high. “This will help them find well-paying jobs.” In the next two years he will add similar classes at the middle school and high school levels. Marana students also are being prepared for careers in such fields as automotive, biosciences, dentistry, aviation and others through the district’s Career and Technology Education and Joint Technical Education District. Wilson believes after-school programs are a great way to involve students in learning opportunities. “We have a full array of activities. We have an award-winning fine arts program, we have almost every sport,” he said. Approximately 750 students out of 1,100 enrolled in Marana’s middle schools are involved in afterschool activities. “We work hard to get the kids engaged.” While offering progressive schools for current and future residents is a priority for the school district, there are other ways in which the district works to be part of the community. School representatives occasionally meet with Town of Marana leaders to open communication between the two entities. “We both felt like partnerships would be advantageous,” Wilson said. “For the town to be vibrant, they need a relationship with the school district, and it’s important for us to share what we’re doing.” Another priority for Wilson is helping students maintain proper nutrition throughout the year. So he created Marana Cares Mobile, an old school bus repurposed as a food truck that feeds students in low-income areas during school vacations of one week or longer. A doctor is on board once a week to see kids with medical needs. Currently in his ninth year as superintendent, Wilson continues to outdo himself by regularly introducing innovative ways of teaching. But there’s one thing he feels must always be emphasized in educating kids. “It’s important to teach the love of learning,” he said. That will stay with them forever.

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BY THE NUMBERS


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The Marana Town Council, from left, Patti Comerford, Jon Post, Carol McGorray, Herb Kai, Mayor Ed Honea, Roxanne Ziegler, and Dave Bowen.

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BizGOVERNMENT


Business Has a Friend in Marana By David Pittman Greg Wexler, a real estate developer/consultant with wideMarana Mayor Ed Honea has history with the town he spread business interests in Marana, said the town is “progrescalls home and thus a personal interest in its evolution as a sive” and easy for business to work with. business-friendly community. “Mayor Ed Honea is a guy who is instrumental in seeing He is the third of five generations of Honeas who have lived in Marana. He worked for the postal service before retiring 10 things get done. Gilbert Davidson is absolutely great and the years ago. entire Town Council is united and works well together, which He has served on the Town Council for 30 years, 13 years is a formula for success,” Wexler said. “The mayor wants to as mayor. He was re-elected last year. see Marana evolve from a small farming community into a “My grandparents came here when my dad was a young very big place.” boy,” he said. “My grandfather Honea was a cotton farmer. In Curt Woody, director of Marana’s Economic Development fact, the original town hall was part of five acres of that farm.” & Tourism Department, said he considers the Town of MaraHonea’s late wife was the presina to be the most business-friendly dent and CEO of the Marana government entity in Pima County and responsibility for that starts Chamber of Commerce. He said four of Marana’s seven Town Counwith the town’s leadership. cil members belong to the chamber, “The Marana mayor and giving them a business-friendly perTown Council have a philosophy spective. of growth, but they want it to be “Most of the time our votes are smart growth that includes proper unanimous,” he said. “I think that’s planning and zoning,” Woody said. because the staff does extraordi“Just below that is the leadership nary due diligence on anything we at the staff level,” he said. “Gilbert do. We are kept in the loop, either Davidson drives a requirement of meeting individually with our town innovation and a culture of excelmanager, Gilbert Davidson, or other lence here. He does not want to opstaff members to get up to speed on erate this town like any other muexactly what is going on. Occasionnicipal entity, and he doesn’t want ally we’ll have a vote of 5-2 or 6-1, burdensome bureaucracy and red but our decisions are unanimous tape. He is always encouraging inpretty much.” novation out of the departments. Honea said self-interest has a If you are not innovating here, you great deal to do with Marana’s proare probably in the wrong place.” business attitude. Davidson said Marana has built “Marana doesn’t have a property a solid reputation for being busitax, so we are heavily reliant on sales ness-friendly, but that is something – Greg Wexler tax,” he said. “It is in our best interthe town should not take for grantReal Estate Developer & Consultant est to accommodate retail growth, ed or become complacent with. but we have also been very accommodating of job creation as “It is something you earn one business or one homeowner well. It’s a mutual benefit. Whether it’s the Town Council, the at a time,” he said. “You can do a good job, but if you mess up town manager and his staff, or the Chamber of Commerce, with just one person, that person will come away with a negawe are all really working hard to attract business to Marana.” tive view. We have to work incredibly hard for every customer. Members of the Marana Town Council are Honea, So you never completely own that reputation, it is always a Jon Post, Dave Bowen, Patti Comerford, Herb Kai, Carol work in progress.” Biz McGorray and Roxanne Ziegler.

Mayor Ed Honea is a guy who is instrumental in seeing things get done. Gilbert Davidson is absolutely great and the entire Town Council is united and works well together, which is a formula for success.

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Laura Cortelyou Tourism Manager Town of Marana

PHOTO: AMY HASKELL

Monique Meza Special Events Coordinator Town of Marana

Vickie Hathaway Communications Manager Town of Marana

PHOTO: AMY HASKELL

A new, 101-room Hampton Inn is expected to break ground in 2017 adjacent to the Tucson Premium Outlets.

Cynthia Nemethâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;Briehn Parks & Recreation Director Town of Marana 88 BizTucson

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BizMILESTONE

Marana Turns 40

Tourists, Locals Take the Time to Explore Town When a community finds itself evolving as a result of rapid growth and purposeful management, it can take time for its new identity to catch up, especially in the eyes of outsiders. The Town of Marana’s tourism and marketing manager, Laura Cortelyou, sees the town as a jewel waiting to be discovered, and she’s working to make sure that’s exactly what happens – for locals and visitors alike. DiscoverMarana.org is the town’s biggest promotional tool. Less than two years old, the website is already winning awards. In July 2016, the Arizona Office of Tourism recognized the site by presenting the town with its Governor’s Tourism Award for Interactive Technology. Five months later the site won a Silver Adrian Award for Website Design, presented by Hospitality Sales and Marketing International. The website is a colorful guide to Marana’s numerous attractions and activities, from hiking, birding and shopping to golfing, dining and hospitality opportunities. Cortelyou’s most recent and perhaps most significant project is the launch of the Marana Gastronomy Tour in partnership with Gray Line Tours. She believes the new tour has the potential to put Marana on the agritainment and

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agritourism maps, playing on its ancient farming origins. “Marana has the oldest agricultural irrigation canal system found in North America,” Cortelyou said. “It is surrounded by mountains with lots of petroglyphs, and it all points to its long agricultural history, to the Hohokam and their predecessors. We have amazing layers of culture. Those following the cultural tourism trend may be surprised that Marana is a hotbed of archeological finds.” Curt Woody, Marana’s director of economic development and tourism, recounted archaeologists’ findings that the Santa Cruz River embankment is the longest continuously inhabited area in Arizona, possibly for as many as 5,000 years. Tour stops will include a look at local growers, such as BKW Farms, a large grain producer. “They grow heritage White Sonoran wheat, which was brought by Father Kino,” Cortelyou said. “It’s used by all the craft breweries in Tucson and also goes into Barrio Bread’s Heritage loaf.” At Marana’s Catalina Brewing Company, another stop on the tour, visitors can try beer made from a variety of locally sourced foods. “Its La Rosa is a prickly pear beer, and two beers are

made with mesquite beans, one with agave syrup. The beer is innovative and subtle,” Cortelyou said. While driving around the northern reaches of Pima County, tour guests will surely notice the expansive beauty of the region and perhaps catch a glimpse of one of its four golf courses, which include Quarry Pines near Interstate 10, and The Gallery, The Golf Club at Dove Mountain and The Highlands, each in the rapidly growing community of Dove Mountain. A popular activity for outdoors lovers is Parks and Recreation’s guided hikes in the Tortolita Mountains, including the nationally designated Wild Burro Trail. Held the second Saturday of each month, hikes vary in distance and elevation gain, offering fun and exercise for all levels of hikers. An exciting addition to Marana’s recreation scene is the news that Topgolf, a nationwide innovator in creating fun sports and entertainment venues, has chosen Marana for its first location in Southern Arizona. The Topgolf experience combines multi-tiered hitting bays with food, drinks, music and big screen TVs. Its opening is scheduled for late 2017 in the former Practice Tee site on West Costco Drive between Thornycontinued on page 90 >>>

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PHOTOS: COURTESY TOWN OF MARANA

By Christy Krueger


BizMILESTONE continued from page 89 dale Road and I-10. Tourists aren’t the only ones enjoying the area’s great natural, manmade and historical amenities. Marana residents love the sense of community in coming together to celebrate their culture and heritage. And that will be especially true in 2017 as they commemorate 40 years of incorporation. Recognizing the milestone birthday will be part of Marana’s annual events, including Founders’ Day and the Marana Cotton Festival. “Our goal is to celebrate 40 years all year long. For all events, we have added an element of celebration,” said Special Events Coordinator Monique Meza. Official recognition of the town’s 40 years will take place during the State of the Town Address and Luncheon on April 14 at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain in partnership with Marana Chamber of Commerce. It will start with a business showcase and feature a presentation by Mayor Ed Honea about the town’s bright future. Registration is required.

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A more casual, family-friendly celebration will take place during the March 25 Marana Founders’ Day at Ora Mae Harn District Park. “We come together to celebrate our founders, agriculture, the people. It’s a get-to-know-yourneighbors event,” Meza said. During the Oct. 21 Marana Cotton Festival, locals honor their heritage

Topgolf will open its first Southern Arizona location in Marana.

with a rodeo, carnival rides, a petting zoo and plenty of food. And the Dec. 2 Marana Holiday Festival and Christmas Tree Lighting is a good time, according to Meza. “We have the largest tree in Southern Arizona and we draw a lot from all over.” For vacationers coming from a distance or locals looking for high-end resort hospitality, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is tough to beat. It helped introduce the world to Marana when the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship was held at its golf course, The Golf Club at Dove Mountain. Anyone who has visited the picturesque resort, tucked back into Wild Burro Canyon in the Tortolita Mountains, has been intrigued and awed by its setting and the feel of a mysterious ancient presence. Petroglyphs can be viewed just a few steps out the door of the hotel. A Native American flautist stands atop a rock ledge and plays to the setting sun as the hauntingly tranquil notes echo off the looming cliffs. It’s all part of the experience of discovering Marana.

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From left, Humberto Lopez, Chairman, HSL Properties; Omar Mireles, President, HSL Properties; David Mehl, President and Owner, Cottonwood Properties; Carson Mehl, VP Sales and Marketing, Cottonwood Properties 92 BizTucson

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Momentum to Build Continues

Dove Mountain Sets the Pace in New Homes

More than 20 years ago, David Mehl had a vision for an upscale community in northeast Marana where The RitzCarlton, Dove Mountain resort now sits, surrounded by single- and multi-family homes and commercial development to support it. Mehl’s company, Cottonwood Properties, now owns the resort in partnership with HSL Properties, and the momentum generated by his vision continues today throughout the town. According to Marana Development

Services Director Ryan Mahoney, in 2013 and 2015, Marana issued more single-family home permits than Tucson, Oro Valley and Sahuarita combined. “Marana’s homebuilding economy has been consistently strong out of the recession the last few years,” he said, while just last year the rest of the region started to catch up. But the Town of Marana still issued nearly 600 single-family permits in 2016 and expects 700 for this year. Whether it’s considered a challenge or an advantage, Marana’s population is

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

By Christy Krueger

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DR HORTON

MATTAMY HOMES continued from page 93 separated by three distinct areas: north, including Gladden Farms; south, reaching down to Orange Grove Road; and in the northeast, the Tangerine corridor and Dove Mountain, which is leading the area in number of new homes built. Gladden Farms started out with a bang, but came to a near halt during the recession. KB Home, the original lead builder, returned four years ago

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PEPPER VINER and in 2016 was joined by Lennar, Meritage Homes and Richmond American Homes. With this much activity in Phase I of Gladden Farms, Mahoney said it won’t be long until more amenities are added. The community has a park with a splash pad, sports fields, wedding venues and hiking trails, but not many shopping opportunities. “They want a grocery store for north Marana,” Ma-

honey said. “We’re monitoring it. Fry’s owns a piece of land there and people really want it. Development activity is getting close to that option.” What almost all new neighborhoods have in common, he said, is outdoor amenities, with a focus on recreation, parks and trails. “Every new developer that comes on board is trying to have continued on page 96 >>>

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PHOTOS: COURTESY COTTONWOOD PROPERTIES

continued from page 94 a trail system, and some connect to the Tortolitas. We’re working on linking trails in neighborhoods to the trails we’re building. That’s the grand vision.” Cynthia Nemeth-Briehn, who directs Marana Parks and Recreation, also believes parks play an important role in residents’ lives. “People seek parks and recreation services to get healthy and stay fit. From a social perspective, parks are a tangible reflection of the quality

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of life in a community,” she said. In addition to single-family home development, there has been more multi-family housing activity in the past few years, Mahoney said. Encantada at Dove Mountain, by HSL Properties, and Legacy Apartments at Dove Mountain both sit on or near Tangerine Road. HSL Properties plans to break ground this summer on its next luxury apartment community near In-

terstate 10 north of Cortaro Road. Mahoney has a good feel for what is attracting so many homebuyers to Marana. In addition to the outdoor amenities, the town provides a high level of service, such as maintaining roads and parks, he said. “Also, the schools are doing really well. Homes being built are of good quality. And there’s the interconnectedness of the street network, I-10 is accessible to Tucson.” Biz

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