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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