Following on the big purchase of 93 acres of state trust land in Arizona, a San Diego-based developer with projects throughout the southwest is offering the land for the building of two business parks.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook on this,” says Mark Krison, the senior vice-president of advisory and transaction services with the CRBE Group’s Phoenix offices.
“These state auction sites almost never become available,” continues Krison, whose company is in charge of leasing for the project, “and when they do you see a lot of pent-up demand.”
The wide-open, vacant land in question is just southwest of Bell Road and 19th Avenue, not far from the Turf Paradise racetrack.
In June, Sunbelt Holdings LP submitted the $26.5 million winning bid for the land in an Arizona State Land Department auction, seeing the bidding starting at $18 million—the appraised value of the land.
State trust land originally comprised more than 10 million across set aside by the federal government when Arizona was still a territory.
By law, proceeds from the sale or leasing of Arizona State trust land have since been relegated to a number of funds, the largest of which goes to K-12 educational purposes.
To date, more than $2 billion from state trust land transactions have gone to Arizona’s schools.
Recent successful bids include $83 million to develop 134 acres for a mixed-use project in Scottsdale; $10.6 million for a 210-acre housing development project in Tucson; and $900,000 for six acres in Gila Bend to be used for a travel center development.
At the time of Sunbelt’s winning bid, Lisa Atkins, the State Land Commissioner, noted in a statement that her department’s mission is to “manage assets of a multi-generational perpetual Trust for both its beneficiaries and for the future of this State.”
The sale of the 93 acres to Sunbelt Land Holdings, Atkins continued, “is an example of that responsible, sustainable management, providing financial growth to Trust beneficiaries and contributing to economic growth for the people of Arizona.”
Trust land, according to local analysts, has become particularly valuable in recent years, as the amount of available private property available for development in metro Phoenix and Tucson has grown smaller.
And that applies, in particular, to the Sunbelt purchase: “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and we’ve never had anything like this happen,” says Krison.
“It’s very rare to get a site in the middle of town that doesn’t have any buildings on it,” he adds.
Sunbelt actually plans to build two business parks: one on the land it purchased at auction, and the other, measuring 51 acres, near the Loop 202 freeway and 40th street.
The Bell 17 Business Park, some 15 miles north of downtown Phoenix, will feature some 1 million square feet of space and the construction of anywhere from a dozen to 16 buildings.
Phoenix-based Balmer Architectural Group is the designer for the project.
According to plans, general industrial buildings at the site will measure between 38, 300 square feet to 61,600 square feet.
Flex office buildings will measure anywhere between 74,250 square feet and 86,400 square feet, while corporate office building construction is set for between 50,160 square feet and 101,200 square feet.
A brochure by Sunbelt describes the Bell 17 Business Park as a campus with a “modern park design, with buildings surrounded by extensive mature landscaping.”
Work on both the Bell 17 Business Park, as well as what is being called the Skyway 202 Business Park, is expected to begin sometime next year.
“We are leasing right now,” says Krison, noting that together, the two parks will comprise some 1.8 million square feet.
The work at 19th and Bell Road, according to locals, has been a long time coming on a site that has been vacant for decades.
An earlier planned business park on a portion of the site, called Phoenix Northgate, never became reality, although for years several sculptures by the late Harold Pastorius decorated the land there.
What had been called Phoenix Northgate was a proposed 283-acre commercial center that in the mid-1980s was designed to attract hotels, restaurants, banks, and even some housing, but went into foreclosure in 1990.
By Garry Boulard
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