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Ground Broken on Pima Mine Road Solar Generating Facility

28 May 2014, 9:50 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Construction has started on the Pima Mine Road Solar Generating Facility. The developer, Avalon Solar Partners LLC, recently hosted a groundbreaking ceremony marking the mid-May beginning of the site works.

Avalon Solar Partners is a subsidiary of Washington, D.C.-based Equator Solar LLC, which develops, owns and operates a portfolio of solar projects totaling over 400 megawatts located in the South West United States, Central America and Thailand.

Also known as Avalon Solar Project, the Arizona solar plant is being built at 915 East Pima Mine Road, about 12 miles south of Tucson, near Sahuarita. Tucson Electric Power will purchase the electricity generated at the 35 megawatt photovoltaic facility under terms of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement. Being the second-largest investor-owned solar utility in Arizona, the plant will generate enough electricity to power north of 7,000 households, according to Equator Solar’s publication.

The facility is being hosted by Asarco on a 500-acre land under a long-term lease. The collaboration among the copper mining company, TEP and Equator was born out of an Environmental Protection Agency program that facilitates the reuse of disturbed lands such as mine sites for green energy projects. The solar farm will also help TEP achieve the state mandate that 15 percent of its power production come from renewable sources by 2025.

The facility is planned to be operational by the end of the current year. Construction of the array will bring around 300 temporary jobs. Four permanent positions will be created for maintenance and security of the system. Over $4 million in property tax revenue should be generated for Pima County over the life of the project, and an estimated $235,000 in county sales tax revenue during the facility’s construction.

The construction itself is expected to cost $100 million, Inside Tucson Business reports.

Photo credits: Citizenmj via Wikimedia Commons



Business Property Trust Picks Up Broadway SelfStorage for $1.1M

21 May 2014, 9:49 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Tucson’s Broadway Self Storage changed hands recently, a trade publication reports. A limited liability company paid $1.1 million to acquire the facility from Broadway Wilmot Self Storage L.L.C.

The buyer is associated with a Portland-based business-property trust, and the company that sold the property is owned by a Tucson investor. The seller was represented by Jeff Gorden, vice president of brokerage services for Eagle Commercial Realty Services, a commercial real estate property-management and brokerage firm serving Arizona and Texas. Bill Alter and Denise Nunez of  Rein & Grossoehme Commercial Real Estate spoke for the Portland firm in the transaction. The company is focused on the sale of investment properties and retail, office and industrial leasing. The acquisition of Broadway Self Storage was Rein & Grossoehme’s  130th self-storage closing since its inception in 1993.

Also known as Smart Bargain Storage, the facility is located at 6444 E. Broadway Boulevard in Tucson’s southeastern residential submarket, right next to Park Palace Mall. Built in 1985, the property was originally used as a health club for 22 years. It was converted to a three-story self-storage facility in 2007 and it now includes 30,000 square feet of storage space and 482 climate-controlled units.

According to a press release, occupancy of the building was 60 percent at the time of the closing.

Photo credits: Google Maps

 



Luxury Casitas Come to Sabino Canyon

14 May 2014, 4:38 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The Pima County Board of Supervisors recently voted to approve re-zoning for construction of a luxury-style apartment property consisting of 130 casitas on Tucson’s east side. The 15.1-acre parcel is on Sabino Canyon Road. Sabino Canyon Road Properties will develop the project which will include three-bedroom luxury rental units located between Cloud Road and East River Road.

The original plans were scaled back because the project has been a source of controversy for neighbors: 130 homes will be built instead of the originally proposed 169 rental units, as a result of pressure from nearby residents who are concerned about the development density, increased traffic and water availability issues. The Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission also opposed the rezoning, Arizona Daily Star reports; however, it changed sides along with many people living in the area after Sabino Canyon Road Properties arranged a meeting with a nearby neighborhood association and submitted its compromises.

Supervisor Ally Miller was the only voter on the five-person board who opposed the project. She disapproved, saying that county officials and board members did not receive updated information on the project in time, and they didn’t have adequate time to review the materials before deciding to accept the proposal, according to the Daily Star. The county received more than 660 letters from residents in protest of the development and more than 530 signatures in support of the project.

Field work is expected to begin at the end of summer.

Photo credits: Google Maps



The Ensign Group Acquires 230-Bed Skilled Nursing, Rehabilitation Center

7 May 2014, 10:25 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Formerly known as Kindred Transitional Care Northwest, Casas Adobes Post-Acute Rehabilitation Center has a new owner, a recent trade publication reports. The Ensign Group acquired the 230-bed skilled nursing facility located at the corner of Orange Grove and Corona roads, adjacent to Northwest Hospital Medical Plaza in Tucson.

The Ensign Group Inc. is the parent company of the Ensign group of skilled nursing, rehabilitative care services, home health care, hospice care, assisted living and urgent care companies. Its independent operating subsidiaries provide physical, occupational and speech therapies, home health and hospice services, urgent care services and other rehabilitative and healthcare services in eleven states throughout the western and mid-western US.

The new owners expect Casas Adobes Post-Acute, with an occupancy rate of around 43 percent, to be mildly accretive to earnings in 2014. The transaction was effective Thursday, May 1 and Ensign purchased the facility with cash, according to the announcement. This acquisition marks Ensign’s 121st addition to its portfolio of healthcare facilities and the 16th in the row of its Arizona operations. One of these, Horizon Post-Acute and Rehabilitation Center in Glendale was purchased earlier this year. Horizon Post-Acute and Casas Adobes Post-Acute will remain with Ensign after separating its real estate business from the healthcare operations.

John Albrechtsen, President of Bandera, Ensign’s Arizona-based portfolio subsidiary said Ensign is actively seeking opportunities to acquire or lease similar assets across the United States. “We are proud to be joining a wonderful team of caregivers as we seek to reinforce and strengthen the caring, patient-centered environment they have created here,” he added.

Photo credits: Google Maps



W.P. Carey Buys Raytheon Office Building for $19M

30 Apr 2014, 10:26 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

A real estate investment trust recently acquired a 143,650 square-foot Class A office building currently leased to one of The Raytheon Company’s main business divisions.

The division, Raytheon Missile Systems, is the largest of Raytheon’s six operating segments and the largest private employer in the Tucson area.

The southside asset was sold to W. P. Carey Inc. W.P.Carey purchased the property on behalf of CPA:17– Global, one of its managed REITs from Summit Properties of Seattle. W. P. Carey is a global net lease REIT specializing in corporate sale-leaseback financing, build-to-suit financing and the acquisition of single-tenant net-lease properties. The company also acts as the manager to a series of non-traded REITs. At the end of last year, its owned and managed portfolio had a combined value of around $15 billion.

Located on a 10.3 acre site a few corners from the airport, in the Tucson South submarket at 3350 E. Hemisphere Loop, the fully occupied building is the defense contractor’s corporate headquarters. Colliers International brokered the transaction worth $18.95 million, which marks the largest office investment sale in Tucson by square footage of the past six years, since January 2008.

The company has also purchased a corporate headquarters/research and development facility located in New Concord, Ohio and a manufacturing facility in Bluffton, Ind. Both are currently under lease agreement with automotive heavy gauge thermoformed products designer and manufacturer PendaForm Co. for a period of 20 years and have been sold for an aggregate of approximately $8 million.

Photo credits: W. P. Carey Inc.



The Army Builds Its Largest-Ever Solar Project in Southern Arizona

23 Apr 2014, 10:25 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Development of a solar array in southeast Arizona is about to start, according to a written announcement recently released by the U. S. Army. The plant is designed to meet about 25 percent of the annual installation electricity requirement of Fort Huachuca, one of the United States Army’s busiest transient installations.

Located in Sierra Vista in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is a United States Army installation under the command of the United States Army Installation Management Command. Its major tenants are the United States Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and the United States Army Intelligence Center. Army Military Auxiliary Radio System is also headquartered in Fort Huachuca.

In line with the Fort Huachuca Renewable Energy Project, the U.S. Army’s Energy Initiatives Task Force is also developing projects in New York, California, Alabama, Hawaii and Maryland that are all part of the Army’s commitment to the President for the production of one gigawatt of renewable electricity by 2025. The Fort Huachuca Renewable Energy Project is the result of Fort Huachuca’s collaboration with the U.S. Army Energy Initiatives Task Force, The General Services Administration, Tucson Electric Power and E.ON Climate and Renewables, the developer of the project. Tucson Electric Power will fund, own, maintain and operate the project, and contract with E.ON for the design, engineering, procurement and construction.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for April 25 and the facility is expected to begin operation by late 2014.

Illustration courtesy of Fernando Tomás via Wikimedia Commons



Lightstone Group Acquires Aloft Tucson University Hotel from Starwood for $19M

16 Apr 2014, 11:03 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. recently announced the $19 million sale of Aloft Tucson University to Lightstone Value Plus Real Estate Investment Trust II Inc., a public, non-traded REIT sponsored by The Lightstone Group.

Founded in 1988, The Lightstone Group is a privately held real estate company taking pride in a portfolio of over 8.1 million square feet of office, hotel, retail and industrial assets, more than 11,000 multifamily units, and north of 12,000 fully-improved residential lots throughout the States. “We believe this acquisition is representative of Lightstone’s ability to identify attractive investment opportunities,” David Lichtenstein, chairman and CEO of The Lightstone Group said in a recent statement for the press.

Aloft Tucson University is located at 1900 East Speedway, right next to the University of Arizona campus and the University of Arizona Medical Center, with shopping, dining and entertainment within reach. Originally built in 1972, it has undergone a complete redevelopment prior to its re-opening in April 2013 as Aloft Tucson University. Its range of amenities includes a heated outdoor pool, a bar, a 24-hour fitness center, a lounge equipped with a pool table, a 24/7 grab-and-go gourmet pantry and 1,723 square feet of flexible meeting space, designed with business meetings and social gatherings in mind. The guest rooms feature the brand’s signature Aloft beds, oversized showerheads, custom amenities by Bliss Spa and plug & play connectivity stations that charge all types of electronics and link to the 42″ LCD TVs.

The hotel will be managed under a long-term license agreement by Island Hospitality Management and will continue to operate as part of the Aloft brand.

Photo credits: Aloft Tucson University



Dine-in Movie Theater Replaces Grand Cinemas Crossroads 6

15 Apr 2014, 4:18 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Roadhouse Cinemas, a group of local entrepreneurs will open a state-of-the-art dine-in cinema in Tucson later this year. The group will spend over $2 million on the recovery of Grand Cinemas Crossroads 6, an existing discount theater located at the corner of East Grant and North Swan Road at Crossroads Festival Shopping Center.

With its spacious auditoriums, large electric reclining leather seats and seat side service, the facility will be the first of its kind in the area. The new theater holds the promise of bringing unique cinema experience to Tucson with high-end projection, exclusive pre-show content, a selection of local craft beers and wine, an array of creative food choices developed specially for Roadhouse Cinemas by Vincent Mast, a two-time Silver Spoon winner. The recipes include flatbread pizzas, several variations of mac and cheese, burgers, stuffed naan, craft gelato and an award-winning chocolate-bourbon pecan pie.  In addition, the facility will include a Roadhouse-style restaurant and bar complete with an outdoor patio.

Scott Cassell, general manager of Roadhouse Cinemas  expects the theater to be more than a place to see a first-run movie; the goal is to offer an experience, he said in a recent statement for the press. “We are going to bring a brand new concept in movie theaters to Tucson that is sweeping the nation with tremendous popularity,” he added.

Roadhouse Cinemas is expected to open this fall, and movie enthusiasts attending the theater must be 21 years or older or be accompanied by an adult.

Photo credits: Architectural Design Group, Tucson



County Approves 716-Acre Multifamily Development Near Corona de Tucson County

4 Apr 2014, 9:11 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has signed a development agreement with Diamond Ventures Inc., Arizona Daily Star reports.

Diamond Ventures is the owner of Hook M Ranch which is situated on 716 acres of land near Corona de Tucson. The development includes 1, 376 houses and 400 apartments, open space, small commercial spaces and a K-8 school for the Vail School District.

Founded in 1988, Diamond Ventures is one of the major real estate development and investment companies of Arizona.  It has invested in a variety of independent businesses and projects across the Southwest; takes pride in a long history of successful collaboration with city, county, state and federal governments; and owns a significant portfolio of residential, office, retail and build-to-suit projects throughout Arizona.

The Board of Supervisors approved rezoning for development of the ranch in 2012. Supervisor Richard Elías was the only one voting against the project expressing his concern about lowering overall density. The four-to-one ratio of votes in favor of the development allowed Diamond Ventures to move forward, according to an earlier summary.

The recent agreement, effective for 25 years, obligates the developer to design and carry out on-site wastewater improvements needed to serve the project along with wastewater pump stations and conveyance lines to the Corona de Tucson Wastewater Treatment Facility. Diamond Ventures is also responsible for designing and executing road works around the development based on a traffic study to be conducted by the county Transportation Department. These improvements will apparently include extending East Andrada Road from South Houghton Road to the entrance of Hook M Ranch.

Image of Diamond Ventures residential property entrance, courtesy of Diamond Ventures, Inc.



Global Nanotechnology Company Brings 5,000-Sq.-Ft. HQ to Tucson Region

21 Mar 2014, 9:52 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Duralar Technologies announced recently that it has established its U.S. headquarters at 7620 North Hartman Lane in a 5,000-square-foot leased building that is scheduled to open by May 2014.

Founded by P&P Holding and successful Silicon Valley high-tech engineer/entrepreneur Andrew Tudhope, the global nanotechnology company sells and supports a unique ultra-hard coating technology together with the systems, precursors and materials used in the process. In addition, the company provides coating services for selected customers. Duralar’s coating technology incorporates proprietary diamond-based nanotechnology designed to replace hard chrome plating, thermal spray and other previous generations of hard coatings required in the oil and gas, automotive, and paper and aerospace industries.

Tudhope, who is now president of Duralar North America believes the Tucson area is an emerging tech hub. “We chose this market for several reasons, including access to technology at The University of Arizona, an attractive cost of living and strong regional support,” the executive said in a recent release.

Duralar plans a $6 million capital investment working with a variety of partners including the Town of Marana, Pima County, Arizona Commerce Authority and CBRE through Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc., an economic development agency for the greater Tucson area. The new U.S. headquarters will bring 30 new positions to the area over the years. The jobs at the facility will be a mix of material science, chemical and electrical engineering positions, technicians and management positions.

Image of Continental Commerce Park at 7620 North Hartman Lane, courtesy of Google Maps