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Old Tucson Studios to Undergo Major Revitalization Project

30 Jan 2014, 8:21 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Old Tucson Co. has big plans with Old Tucson Studios. The company plans to convert the facility into a multi-cultural living history educational center for southern Arizona.

Just fifteen minutes from the city, Old Tucson is located at the base of the Tucson Mountains, on the corner of S. Kinney Road and W. Gates Pass Road.  As a working film location and western theme park, it provides entertainment, historical tours and special event services for the general public, as well as location and production services for film production companies and independent producers and directors.

The theme park is operated by Old Tucson Co. According to Inside Tucson Business, the company pays Pima County $64,000 a year in rent for the site. Now the firm plans to turn over the lease to a new nonprofit organization, the Arizona Sonora Western Heritage Foundation, which brings partners such as the University of Arizona and the Arizona Historical Society to the project. A development director will also be hired to lead the redevelopment works.

The project could be financed by grant funding and donations. A renegotiation is also possible with the county. Old Tucson Co. would continue to operate the park though. The park management is currently discussing possibilities of a lower rent with the county.

Pete Mangelsdorf, General Manager and CEO at Old Tucson believes that the educational programs and the multi-cultural heritage projects will be able to revitalize the theme park and “give something back to the people of Pima County,” Inside Tucson Business reports. Having been a popular filming location for western movies, the fate of Old Tucson has been sealed after the 1970’s when the production of western movies started to decline. Additionally, an arson fire devastated more than half of the historical buildings in 1995.

Photo credits: Old Tucson

New Tucson Water Treatment Facility Completed

22 Jan 2014, 8:38 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Tucson Water’s Advanced Oxidation Process Water Treatment Facility has recently been inaugurated. Construction began in July 2012 and was completed on schedule and within budget.

Located west of Interstate 19 near Irvington Road, the new plant will operate in conjunction with the adjacent Tucson Airport Remediation Project facility to produce up to a daily total of 8 million gallons of purified water.  The new 4,500-square-foot treatment facility is equipped with state-of-the-art gear, designed to remove 1,4-dioxane and other contaminants from water.

From the 1940s, industrial activity at the aircraft manufacturing facilities in the Tucson International Airport area contaminated the surrounding groundwater supplies with solvents for over 30 years. These chemicals contained a stabilizing compound called 1,4-dioxane, an ether with damaging effect to the central nervous system and several organs,  irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract.

AOP technology combines UV light with hydrogen peroxide to remove 1,4-dioxane from the underground plume at the TARP wellfield, in order to reach a degree of purity advised by the Environmental Protection Agency. Although EPA does not currently regulate 1,4-dioxane, two years ago the agency issued a drinking water health advisory for 1,4-dioxane of 0.35 parts per billion. Tucson Water performs thousands of tests each year on water samples and reports the results to customers, elected officials, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Tucson Water Director Alan Forrest hosted the dedication ceremony held on Jan. 15. He pointed out that the water produced from the TARP and AOP treatment facilities meets all federal drinking water standards and is safe for drinking, cooking, and bathing. “Tucson Water’s commitment to ensuring that customers have enough safe, high-quality water today and in the future is a strategic approach that we fully support,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who was also present at the inaugural. “This new AOP Water Treatment Facility is an important investment in our community’s water quality and long-term water reliability,” he added.

Photo credits: City of Tucson

School Wins Office Makeover by Goodmans Interiors Structures

16 Jan 2014, 8:13 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The Edge School at Himmel Park recently won Goodmans Interior Structures’ “Eye for the Good GuyS Board Governance Award.” The prize was a $20,000 office makeover that also gave the local nonprofit charter high school a bigger and more modern state-of-the-art assembly hall with a capacity to seat 25 people.

Other participants in the sprint for the 2013 Good GuyS award were Assistance League of Tucson, Beads of Courage, Children’s Museum Tucson and Junior League of Tucson. In the past years, executives of other nonprofit organizations were awarded the recognition and had their offices almost completely re-equipped as tribute to their realizations. The prize was often shared between several of them.

The mission of Edge High School is to provide counseling and education alternative for students who have dropped out of school or who are at risk of doing so. In 2008, the board and administration of the school worked with the Industrial Development Authority of Pima County to issue a bond to purchase and renovate the main school campus at Himmel Park.

According to Arizona Daily Star, a broken room divider previously stood in the way, making it difficult to exploit the possibilities of the space. Besides removal of the divider, the walls were painted, electrical outlets added and flooring and ceiling tiles replaced. Goodmans Interiors Structures also provided stackable tables and chairs along with a 70-inch flat-panel TV and a mobile whiteboard.

Photo credits: Google Maps

Signature Vacation Rentals Enters Tucson Market

16 Jan 2014, 4:51 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Signature Vacation Rentals has expanded its operation by opening a new branch office in Tucson.

President Steve Schwab named Jeanie Anaya as the new branch manager for the Signature Vacation Rentals Tucson office at 6700 N. Oracle, Suite 332.

“I am excited for the property owners who lease their properties for short- and long-term rentals in the Tucson area,” Schwab said in a statement. “With our owner-centric process of management backed by our powerful Property Management Systems, the property owners in Tucson can expect excellent property exposure, increased rentals and great service with integrity.”

Launched in 2011, Signature Vacation Rentals is an affiliate of The Schwab Organization. Founded by Schwab, the parent organization came to life in 2001 in Puerto Penasco, Mexico and is dedicated to client services, community service and cross border business.

The new sub-office will focus on offering vacation rental property owners and guests a professional mediation. Since its inception, the company has expanded staff and continued to incorporate technological advances to be able to keep up with the ever increasing demand and continue to meet requirements of owners and guests in the industry.

Beyond employing licensed real estate agents, the company also works with a designated broker who oversees the operations. According to Schwab, the firm’s accounting system is CPA certified, and they have passed their audits with the State of Arizona consistently.

Photo credits: Google Maps 

Luxury 274-Unit Mixed-Use Project in the Pipeline for Oro Valley

16 Jan 2014, 4:04 pm

By Balazs Szekely Associate Editor

Luxury apartments and a retail center are coming to the North Oracle Road and First Avenue intersection in Oro Valley. The mixed-use project’s location is part of an area that was approved as a planned area development in 2002.

Although developers have not yet broken ground at the site, Arizona Daily Star reports that CVS Pharmacy, Panera Bread, Mattress Firm and Universal Nails & Spa have already signed to lease commercial spaces of yet undisclosed square-footage. According to Inside Tucson Business, Paradise Bakery has also shown interest in expanding its operations to San Dorado at Oro Valley Town Centre, as the complex will be called.

Scottsdale-based Mark-Taylor Capital and Kitchell Development joined forces for the construction of the 274-unit residential component, whilst the retail center will be developed by Kitchell alone. The site is owned by Cañada del Oro L.L.C. Delivery is expected by Q3 2014 for the shopping center, but part of the residential units will be move-in-ready a few months earlier. Future residents can choose from homes featuring up to three bedrooms and up to two bathrooms on nine different floor plans ranging from 779 to 1,381 square feet. Ryan Cochran, director of development for Kitchell told the Arizona Daily star that a central “civic area” will include a grassy, park-like space and an area for farmers’ markets and other outdoor activities.

Not far away from the site, another project is also underway. HSL Properties has recently started developing Encantada at Steam Pump Ranch, a 288-unit apartment complex north of Oracle Road and First Avenue.

Photo courtesy: Mark-Taylor

Renovation Completed on Heart and Vascular Institute at St. Mary’s Hospital

15 Jan 2014, 8:23 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

2013 marks a great leap forward for the Carondelet Heart & Vascular Institute, which undertook a major expansion, including the adoption of a state-of-the-art hybrid operating suite.

Located on the first and third floors of St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson, the Carondelet Heart & Vascular Institute’s St. Mary’s Campus has been under renovation during the past year. CHVI celebrates the official opening in January. The project cost $17 million and is part of an expansion of Carondelet Health Network’s heart program involving Carondelet’s St. Joseph’s campus as well.

The institute now includes a dedicated Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit; a 21-bed, all private room progressive care unit; a 34-bed telemetry unit; two cardiac catheterization labs; three dedicated operating suites; an electrophysiology suite with cardiac arrhythmia ablation capability; and an endovascular surgical suite for complex aneurysm repair. The jewel in the crown is a hybrid operating suite, which is basically a combination of a cardiac catheterization lab and a cardiothoracic operating room that serves as a remote classroom at the same time. This means that physicians and medical students can observe and learn new techniques and procedures from anywhere in the world via a video stream. The hybrid OR is also equipped with the highest quality X-ray imaging for optimal visualization during complex surgical procedures. The high-tech equipment guarantees that patients as well as the crew are exposed to minimal radiation.

St. Mary’s holds a number of national titles such as Joint Commission-certified Primary Stroke Center, Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence and Distinguished Hospital for Critical Care. The hospital is also among the top 100 in the nation for stroke care, and Healthgrades’ Patient Safety Excellence Award places it among the top 10 percent of US hospitals for quality and safety. In 2013, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association also honored the hospital with a Gold Plus Award for Stroke Care. Michael Hecht, MD and chief medical officer of Carondelet Specialist Group told the press that “the vision of Carondelet Heart & Vascular Institute is to be nationally recognized as a premier destination for modern cardiovascular care through clinical excellence, research and physician education.”

Photo courtesy of Carondelet Health Network

Downtown Condos Expected to Sell Out Fast

12 Dec 2013, 11:12 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Downtown Tucson Partnership has high expectations of the Flats at Julian Drew Block Condominiums community as all 53 units at 128 S 5th Avenue of are now listed for individual sale and the partnership anticipates great interest from buyers.

The units have recently been updated with climate control units, new front doors and windows, kitchen cabinets, recessed lighting and new plumbing fixtures. Each unit overlooks a large courtyard with pool, spa, bike racks and barbecue area. The three-floor property includes studio and one-bedroom condos with prices starting in the low $100,000s. The company submits two model units for clients interested in buying to view daily from 9 am to 5 pm and the units are available for purchase through Tierra Antigua Realty.

Vice President of Regional Development for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Michael Guymon thinks that a successful and viable neighborhood has to live up to a certain standard, namely, to provide live, work and play opportunities, and that the Flats at Julian Drew Block Condominiums meets these requirements. “From a housing perspective, those successful downtowns include diverse options that allow for rental and ownership. This project brings an important ownership opportunity to those looking to invest in Tucson’s downtown.”

According to Michael Keith, CEO of Downtown Tucson Partnership, there has been demand for such a project for a long time. He sees a turning point for Downtown in the conversion of the community.  “The fact that buyers can not only be part of one of the hottest Downtown districts in the west, but can actually own an appreciating asset in the center of our amazing redevelopment district is astonishing. That their mortgage payments will be comparable to area rents is even more astonishing. You have to think that these 53 units will be completely sold out in a couple of months,” he said in a statement.

Photo credits: Downtown Tucson Partnership 

Casino Del Sol Resort Adds Sewailo Golf Club

5 Dec 2013, 10:23 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Casino Del Sol Resort invites players of all skill levels to Sewailo Golf Club starting on Dec. 12. The 200-acre course was designed by PGA Tour player, Golf Channel commentator and renowned golf course architect Notah Begay III.

Casino Del Sol Resort, among several other enterprises, is owned and operated by the federally recognized Pascua Yaqui Tribe that congregates more than 17,000 members. Located in southwest metropolitan Tucson, the property is Arizona’s only Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond Casino Resort. Casino Del Sol Resort offers six restaurants and bars, a conference center with breakout rooms, Hiapsi Spa, P.Y. Steakhouse, Oasis pool and bar, two casinos and a 5,000-seat open-air concert venue called AVA outdoor amphitheater.

The word Sewailo means “flower world” in the tribal language. More than 30,000 native flowers, cacti and other plants guarantee that the course lives up to its name. An abundance of native plants has been salvaged and replanted from the original site, mainly species that are also used in the tribe’s traditional ceremonies. Almost 14 acres of lakes, streams and water features add to the experience as well.

Begay’s careful planning that incorporates the existing resources of the native landscape resulted in one of the most remarkable courses in the Southwest. Carved out of the high Sonoran Desert, the challenging course measures 7,400 yards from the championship tees and features five different tee boxes at each hole. The course includes further amenities such as practice areas for chipping and putting, a driving range, instructional programs and equipment rentals. Troon Golf is entrusted with managing the course.

Photo Credits: Sewailo Golf Club

ITRA Global Invites Bioscience Companies to Tucson

29 Nov 2013, 2:31 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Commercial Real Estate Group of Tucson issued a white paper suggesting that bioscience/biotechnology companies relocate to Tucson.

Michael Coretz, principal of Commercial Real Estate of Tucson, considers the proximity to private enterprises only one of the advantages Tucson has to offer for biotech companies. Coretz is a site-selection expert with indepth knowledge of biotech companies for local, regional and national clients.

“Our city also boasts available venture capital, an encouraging spirit of entrepreneurship and a strong research community, including the University of Arizona’s Bio5 Institute,” he claims in the publication. “Tucson is a rising biotechnology star.”

Commercial Real Estate of Tucson is the local affiliate of ITRA Global, which represents firms specializing in the representation of tenants and buyers of commercial real estate such as office, industrial, and retail facilities in major markets worldwide.

The nine-page report, titled “The Bio Industry in Tucson, Arizona,” highlights two main reasons for consideration, namely the large bio presence and the strong research community. It points out that numerous other bioscience companies already operate with success in the region, for instance Ventana Medical Systems, Sanofi and SynCardia Systems.

Accelerate Diagnostics’ 2012 shift from Denver is also mentioned in the communication. Lawrence Mehren, president and CEO of the company shared his experience, saying “I was impressed from my first contacts with Pima County, the Tucson mayor’s office, the state of Arizona and the Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Office. We could tell this was a place that valued our businesses and wanted to help.” Potential partners are also reminded of the presence of a highly skilled workforce and the available federal and state government funding.

The white paper is available for download on Commercial Real Estate Group of Tucson’s official website.

Illustration by Linda Bartlett via Wikimedia Commons

Washington Gas Energy to Add Solar Array in UA Tech Park

21 Nov 2013, 10:54 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Washington Gas Energy Systems Inc. recently announced a commitment with Tucson Electric Power to establish a one-megawatt solar array.

The facility will be owned and operated by Washington Gas Energy Systems, which is an affiliate of Washington Gas Light Co., under a 20-year power purchase agreement with TEP.

The electric utility company announced a Request for Proposal for the installation not long ago. Cogenra Solar developed and designed the project and will manage procurement and construction.

The project, Cogenra Solar’s largest so far, will be constructed at Solar Zone within the University of Arizona’s Science & Technology Park. Developers anticipate completion by April. The plant will be based on Cogenra’s ground-mounted T14 systems. These combine high-efficiency silicon photovoltaic cells and a single-axis horizontal tracker with proprietary low-concentration optics. Cogenra’s solar cells include mirrors that concentrate the sunlight. Thanks to this technology, more electricity can be generated with fewer units, occupying less space. The levelized cost of electricity is also lowered this way by up to 20 percent compared to conventional PV systems. “Cogenra’s latest generation product T14 offers the lowest installed cost solar system out there and we are very excited to be working with TEP and the Solar Zone on our first MW-scale project,” Gilad Almogy, CEO and founder of Cogenra Solar said in a statement for the press.

Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff requires electric utilities to gradually increase their output of renewable energy each year to meet the 15 percent benchmark by 2025, and the expansion to come will help TEP to reach or even exceed this level. Upon completion of the new project, Solar Zone will generate 23 megawatts of power in total, and the added 1,986 megawatt-hours per year the new cells are expected to produce should be enough to serve the electrical needs of about 180 homes in Tucson.

Illustration courtesy of Thecyrgroup via Wikimedia Commons