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Village Inn to Open Restaurant in Marana

18 Jun 2014, 8:41 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Village Inn announced the addition of a new location in Marana’s Arizona Pavilions shopping center. The franchise is already well known in Tucson, currently operating three other restaurants in the area.

Village Inn has been around since 1958. With almost six decades of experience behind it, the company has corporate and franchise restaurants totaling more than 200 locations in the Rocky Mountain region, the Midwest, Arizona and Florida. The restaurant chain has previously brought three other locations to the area, one at the corner of 22nd Street and Old Spanish Trail, one on Oracle Road just south of Orange Grove and one on Speedway between Columbus and Alvernon.

“We are very happy that Tucson residents will soon have another convenient Village Inn location where they can enjoy breakfast all day long,” said Jeff Guido, president of Village Inn, in a recent press statement. According to Inside Tucson Business, the new restaurant will be located at 5955 West Arizona Pavilions Drive in Marana. Construction commenced last week, and the new Village Inn is expected to open in October 2014.

Photo credits: Village Inn



Radium Investments Buys Apartment Community from HSL Properties for $8.1M

11 Jun 2014, 7:24 pm

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

HSL Properties sold the 160-unit multifamily property located at 7424 East Speedway Boulevard in Tucson to Radium Investments I L.L.C. The buyer is a recently established entity led by Jim and Kevin Szymanski of James Associates Management Equity Services.

Legacy Capital Advisors financed the$8.1 million ($50,625/unit) sale of the community. Based in Phoenix, the firm specializes in providing capital advisory services to the commercial real estate industry including debt, equity, structured finance and loan modification services. The company also has a long-standing relationship with James Associates which has been active in both Phoenix and Tucson apartment ownership and management. Arranged by Jim Pierson and Keaton Merrell, Legacy Capital secured $6,100,000 in Freddie Mac permanent financing. The deal was brokered by Art Wadlund and Clint Wadlund of Hendricks Berkadia.

“Kevin and Jim Szymanski had a tight time frame on the Posada Del Rio acquisition,” said Jim Pierson, principal at Legacy Capital Advisors. He added that the company succeeded in securing the loan for the buyers in 45 business days, according to a written announcement published by AZRE Magazine.

Built in 1980, Posada Del Rio is a gated community with around 99,280 square feet that offers four floor plans. Each unit features a washer and dryer, wood burning fireplaces, spacious bedrooms and walk-in closets. Just moments from retail stores, restaurants and entertainment, the property also has several community amenities to offer, such as a free covered parking, modern fitness center, a swimming pool and a spa.

Photo credits: Posada Del Rio Apartments via Facebook



FirstService Residential to Provide HOA Management for Hill Farm

5 Jun 2014, 2:12 am

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

The Hill Farm community in northeast Tucson has recently selected FirstService Residential to provide HOA management services for the Hill Farm Homeowners Association.

A subsidiary of FirstService Corp., FirstService Residential is one of North America’s leading property management companies overseeing more than 6,500 residential and commercial associations in 21 U.S. states and three provinces in Canada. Its portfolio includes over 1.5 million residential units and over 50 million square feet of commercial space. Ranking Arizona has selected FirstService Residential as Arizona’s top choice of HOA management companies for eight consecutive years.

“FirstService Residential is honored to now be a part of this local Tucson treasure and to provide this historic landmark with the backing needed to preserve its’ past while moving forward into the future,” said Jason Proudfit, president of FirstService Residential’s Arizona operations.

Established in 1981, Hill Farm comprises 104 homes and sits next to a two-and-a-half acre lake, offering a unique waterfront experience. Located near the Fort Lowell Historic District, the community is bordered by East Fort Lowell Road to the south, and the Rillito River to the north. Besides the historic Hill Farm House, originally designed for Dr. and Mrs. Donald Hill by architect Josias Joesler and now serving as a clubhouse, Hill Farm offers residents several amenities including a swimming pool, spa, and volleyball court. The neighborhood grants quick access to some of Tucson’s premier restaurants, shopping, attractions, schools and the University of Arizona.

FirstService Residential assumed management responsibilities on June 1.

Photo credits: Hill Farm HOA



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



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