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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

Tucson Proposes to Become Home to Tesla’s 10-Million-Sq.-Ft. Lithium Battery Factory

13 Mar 2014, 10:15 pm

By Balazs Szekely Associate Editor

The city of Tucson has made it public that luring electric car maker Tesla Motors’ $5 billion investment to the area is among its top priorities. Besides accentuating Tucson’s tech presence in the Southwest, the investment’s benefits would include the addition of 6,500 jobs.

Tesla seeks a location to develop a 10 million-square-foot lithium-ion battery factory on around 1,000 acres of land, Arizona Daily Star reports. The factory would supply batteries to Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant. Tesla aims for innovative manufacturing, reduction of logistics waste, optimization of co-located processes and reduced overhead. The automaker plans to directly invest $2 billion in the new facility, and the rest should come from partners.

Nevada, New Mexico and Texas also want to seize the opportunity, but Arizona has an ace up its sleeve–namely, Global Advantage. The company is is a partnership program between the University of Arizona Tech Parks and The Offshore Group, and was recently endorsed by the governors of Sonora and Arizona. Global Advantage offers research and development at the tech park with manufacturing capabilities in Sonora. The Offshore Group operates industrial parks in Sonora and already has clients who are suppliers to the car manufacturer. According to Tesla’s plans, the site will be selected this year. Construction is expected to be completed in 2015, and production is scheduled to start by 2017.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild told the Daily Star that a suitable land with access to the Union Pacific mainline and the interstates has already been identified. The city is also offering additional tax incentives to any offered by the Arizona Commerce Authority. The city management is confident that – just like other major companies such as Intel, Boeing, Apple, Raytheon and Honeywell – Tesla would feel at home in a city well known for its numerous green initiatives and solar projects.

Image of the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, courtesy of Steve Jurvetson via Wikipedia

Universal Health Services Acquires Palo Verde Mental Health Facility

8 Mar 2014, 12:07 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Universal Health Services Inc. of Tucson LLC has announced the acquisition of Palo Verde Mental Health from Tucson Medical Center. The institution has been renamed Palo Verde Behavioral Health.

One of the largest hospital companies in the US, Universal Health Services operates more than 196 behavioral health facilities in 37 states. They include two Arizona hospitals, Valley Hospital and Calvary Addiction Recovery Center, both in Phoenix. Besides establishing its presence in the Tucson market, the company continues to expand its behavioral health operations in Arizona by the late 2013 acquisition of a 67,324-square-foot medical building in north Phoenix that will also be converted into a psychiatric hospital.

Palo Verde offers inpatient care and outpatient or partial hospitalization care for people with serious mental illnesses, mental health and substance abuse disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Currently, 48 adult inpatient psychiatric beds are available, but the new owners plan to expand capacity. “UHS looks forward to working in partnership with Tucson Medical Center in expanding the facility’s capacity to 84 inpatient beds by the end of 2014.” said Debra Osteen,  president of  UHS’ Behavioral Health Division in a release. “Additionally we look to develop child and adolescent behavioral health programs to meet the great need and demand in southern Arizona for these services,” she added.

Under UHS, Palo Verde Behavioral Health becomes a free-standing, for-profit, private psychiatric facility and continues providing inpatient and intensive outpatient psychiatric services. Treatment programs include Adult Psychiatric Intensive Care, Adult General Psychiatric Treatment, Adult Inpatient Detox and Intensive Outpatient Treatment.

Image of TMC’s Tucson Orthopedic Institute, courtesy of Google Maps

SunEdison’s Solar Plant Juices Up Davis-Monathan Air Force Base

1 Mar 2014, 2:04 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

SunEdison and MIC Solar Energy Holdings have recently completed the construction of a 16.4 megawatt photovoltaic solar power plant on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

The project is backed by a public/private alliance between Davis-Monthan AFB, SunEdison, The North American Development Bank, MIC Solar Energy Holdings, and Chevron Energy Solutions. The SunEdison Renewable Operation Center will manage plant operations through a contract with MIC Solar Energy Holdings that took ownership of the project.

A global leader in semiconductor and solar technology, SunEdison is a manufacturer and provider of solar energy services with R&D and manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Europe and Asia developing, financing, installing and operating distributed power plants for commercial, government and utility customers. MIC Solar Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Macquarie Infrastructure Company LLC, owns, operates and invests in infrastructure businesses.

Bob Powell, president of SunEdison North America, considers the Air Force a perfect candidate for renewable power because of its high electricity demand and the fact that the armed forces often have large underutilized lands at their disposal. “This project was very rewarding for our team because we are helping save our fellow taxpayers’ money,” he added.

The plant is currently the largest solar energy facility at any U.S. Department of Defense installation. The Air Force is working to increase its use of renewable electricity to 25 percent by 2025 as it is currently the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, and this plant is expected to reduce utility costs by $500,000 annually for the next 25 years.

SunEdison installed its Silvantis branded modules at the solar power plant, which utilize the company’s wafers specialized for maximum efficiency and durability. Located on two plots of previously underutilized land totaling 170 acres, the facility is designed to provide 35 percent of the electricity requirements of the base and is expected to generate enough electricity to power north of 5,000 houses.

Photo credits: SunEdison LLC

Tucson School District Turns Tucson Schools into Daycare Centers

19 Feb 2014, 10:57 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Two elementary schools in Tucson will soon become daycare centers. The Tucson Unified School District recently decided to alter the function of Schumaker Elementary and Brichta Elementary in order to create low-cost child-care centers for employees, Arizona Daily Star reports.

With Schumaker near East Fifth Street and North Pantano Road on the east side of Tucson, and Brichta near West Speedway and North Silverbell Road on the west, the two currently closed elementary schools will become Infant and Early Learning centers after TUSD carries out the renovations worth $1.3 million.

TUSD employees will be able to enroll their children (age 5 and younger) in the institutions for fees ranging from $350 to $445 a month, depending on the child’s age. Although the temporary fee structure involves TUSD partners, employees’ relatives as well as the public, the program will include only current employees in the long run. TUSD will later consider opening further centers to serve the community, based on the public’s general interest and the overall the success of the initiative.

District Superintendent H.T. Sanchez projects that in contrast to the financial load on the parents, the education curriculum will not drop behind the level of for-profit institutions of the same kind, and promises a solid education to prepare children there for kindergarten.

Sanchez also told the Daily Star that desegregation funds will help pay for construction costs. The funds are considered a one-time investment, and the centers are expected to pay for themselves in the future.

The centers are expected to open by the start of the 2014-2015 school year.

Photo courtesy of Schumaker Elementary School via Facebook

La Posada Lodge & Casitas Joins Choice Hotels Ascend Hotel Collection

13 Feb 2014, 5:26 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Ascend Hotel Collection has recently added La Posada Lodge & Casitas and four other domestic hotels to its portfolio.

In addition to the Tucson property, Parc England Boutique Hotel in Alexandria, La., Salvatore’s Garden Place Hotel in Buffalo, N.Y., Port Inn in Portsmouth, N.H. and Atherton Hotel downtown State College, Pa. have transferred to Choice Hotels International’s collection.

The new members maintain their individuality while being able to make use of programs and platforms Choice Hotels International has to offer. With the latest additions, the membership program now includes 121 upscale independent hotels located in distinct destinations throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Central America, Australia and the Caribbean.

La Posada Lodge & Casitas is situated in Tucson’s Catalina Foothills area and targets mainly individual, family and business travelers. The total of 72 rooms consists of 60 deluxe guest rooms and 12 casitas. Both options come equipped with a work area, high-speed Wi-Fi, walk-in showers, flat screen TVs, king- or queen-sized beds, refrigerators and microwave ovens, whilst the luxury bungalows offer an added kitchenette and private backyard or courtyard with views of the city and the Santa Catalina Mountains.

La Posada Lodge & Casitas also offers 1,800 square feet of flexible indoor meeting space and more than 2,000 square feet of outdoor panoramic space. Further amenities include a heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, an on-site barber shop, a fitness center, a business center, dry cleaning service and coin laundry machines.

Photo credits: La Posada Lodge & Casitas


Securaplane Inaugurates 55,000-Sq.-Ft. Facility in Oro Valley

6 Feb 2014, 11:21 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Securaplane’s strong growth made it inevitable that the avionics products supplier would eventually outgrow its Foothills Business Park location. The company has found a solution and completed expansion recently in Oro Valley. The newly constructed 55,000 square foot facility is located within Innovation Park and will house 180 employees.

Securaplane Technologies is a leading supplier of avionics products for business, commercial and military aircraft. The company is a subsidiary of Meggitt PLC, an international group operating in North America, Europe, and Asia. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Meggitt PLC is a world leader in aerospace, defense and energy markets, best known for its specialized extreme environment engineering.

In order to increase the size of its operations and support production for its business jet, air transport, rotorcraft and military customers, Securaplane turned to the Economic Expansion Zone for acreage.  The overlay district was approved by Oro Valley Town Council on Oct. 3, 2012. The purpose of creating such an area was to streamline the process and reduce the time required for establishing or expanding a business. Oro Mayor Satish I. Hiremath is pleased to see Securaplane joining Innovation Park’s high-tech corridor “We’re also proud that Securaplane was the first business to benefit from the Economic Expansion Zone,” he added in a statement for the press.

A grand opening celebration for the new facility will be held March 20, with the attendance of federal, state, and local officials as well as Securaplane stakeholders.

Photo credits: Innovation Park official

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

LGI Homes Holds Grand Opening for Development of 72-Lot Homesite

15 Nov 2013, 10:44 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The event took place at Caddis Haley on Nov. 9 when LGI Homes made public its intended plans for the property.

The company is constructing single and two- story homes with three-, four- and five-bedrooms on the recently acquired lots in the southwest Tucson submarket. LGI bought the 72 homesites in late August from Greg Anderson of Caddis Bridge LLC. Chapman Lindsay’s Aaron Mendenhall served as broker.

LGI Homes Inc. is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas and engages in the design and construction of entry-level homes in Texas, Arizona, Florida and Georgia. Since commencing operations in 2003, the company has constructed and sold over 5,500 homes.

Floor plans for the aforementioned homes range from 1,450 square feet to 2,550 square feet, and rents start at $799 per month. According to a press release, the newly built homes include covered patios and modern kitchens with granite countertops, birch cabinetry and energy-efficient appliances. A 10-year homeowner warranty is also among the benefits, says the company’s website. The community also offers a basketball court, playground and open park space as well as designated picnic areas. Located in Star Valley, a high-demand area of the city, the neighborhood is minutes from Midvale Park Plaza and the Tucson Spectrum which offer shopping, dining and entertainment.

Jay Osborne of LGI will manage construction operations while Rudy Carrillo is entrusted with marketing the community. “We are excited to become a part of the Tucson community,” Carrillo said. “There are a lot of people throwing money away on rent and paying their landlord’s bills. We look forward to helping people fulfill their dream of homeownership,” he added.

Photo credits: LGI Homes

Noble Investment Embarks on $18M+ Redevelopment, Rebranding of Two Windmill Suites Hotels

6 Nov 2013, 5:09 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Noble Investment Group acquired two Windmill Suites hotels in Arizona. The Windmill Suites Hotel Tucson at the University of Arizona and the Windmill Suites Hotel in Phoenix/Chandler at the Chandler Fashion Center will be rebranded soon.

The Noble organization has previously invested more than $2.5 billion in upscale hotels affiliated with brands such as Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton and Starwood. Noble specializes in making value-added, opportunistic investments in the lodging and hospitality real estate sector throughout the U.S.

The investor wants to invest more than$18 million in renewal and improvement of the two properties, which are also in for rebranding. Noble principal, Ben Brunt sees the acquisitions as “representative of Noble’s strategy to invest in prominently located urban select service and extended stay hotels affiliated with premium brands,” according to a statement. “Our ability to physically enhance, reposition, and rebrand these assets will enable us to maximize operating performance and add substantial value to these investments,” he added.

The Tucson property is located at the northern edge of Tucson in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, in St. Philip’s Plaza, and currently offers two-room suites. It is soon going to be rebranded as Homewood Suites by Hilton and will also be enhanced with new units, thus working up the number of suites to 122. The exterior will also undergo a comprehensive update, and new common areas will be added as well. The renovations are planned to meet “Take Flight” guidelines and will cost around $9 million. Take Flight is Homewood Suites’ initiative launched earlier this year— a program designed to retrofit existing outdated properties and bring them up to modern-day standards.

The soon-to-be 129-suite Hyatt Place Phoenix/Chandler is located on West Chandler Boulevard, adjacent to the Chandler Fashion Center.  Its redevelopment includes the incorporation of the Hyatt Place lobby concept, all new guestrooms, common areas and exterior enhancements.

Both properties are located in highly sought after and affluent markets consistent with Noble’s strategy of investing in top-grade real estate, enhancing the physical space through redevelopment and/or rebranding and then maximizing operational performance.

Photo courtesy of Windmill Suites

Town Officials Remove Endangered Species Protection from 2,400-Acre Area

1 Nov 2013, 6:41 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Marana residents fear that Tortolita Preserve may be facing a whole series of new developments in the future as town officials intend to withdraw from a 99-year lease agreement early and return the area back to the state.

The goal of creating the preserve 13 years ago was to reduce Dove Mountain’s development, thus protecting the habitat of the Pygmy Owl. The species was on the endangered species list at that time.

Since the birds have reproduced to a more comforting level and as a consequence have been taken off the endangered species list in the meantime, the agreement with the state and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service might now be suspended, upsetting locals living near the preserve. The pleasant surroundings that the Tortolita Preserve provided for nearby homes constituted a major attraction in the eyes of present inhabitants, according to a News 4 Tucson report. The other concern they have is depreciation of their properties.

The Town of Marana originally agreed to lease 2,400 acres of land in order to protect the tiny predators. Now that the species no longer counts as endangered, officials caution that the land generates significant expenses for taxpayers. Around $121 million would have to be paid over the extent of the contract, so the town has to consider every option. Over time, the lease will inevitably become a burden regarding the general fund, Marana spokesman Rodney Camplbell declared. What might give concerned residents some momentary relief is that the state land department still has to affirm that revising the contract is even possible.

Illustration courtesy of John Owens via Wikimedia Commons