Utility contractors volunteer to improve neighborhood

About 30 volunteers from various local companies turned out Saturday (Oct. 8) for the third annual volunteer day, sponsored by the Tucson Utility Contractors Association.

Miracle Square, an assisted living complex for low-income seniors at the corner of Jacinto Street and Oracle Road, will be the recipient of this year’s volunteer landscaping effort, which will involve removal of existing groundcover, rocks, dead trees and unwanted bushes, and replacement with low water use plants and trees, along with a drip irrigation system.

According to the center’s executive director, Tom Cowdry, Miracle Square is located in a former motel, which was acquired in 1982 to provide housing for some of the city’s lowest income seniors. With landscaping dating back to the era before the acquisition, he said the appearance of the square was “outdated and weedy.”

He said, “We’re part of a corridor where people are trying to improve appearances and we didn’t think we were contributing to that, which is why we’re so pleased the utility contractors have volunteered to help. We want to do our part in saying we care for this property and the people who live here.”

Joe Herrick, executive director of the association, said the chance to improve the quality of life for the seniors at Miracle Square made the project important to the contractors. “TUCA’s annual volunteer day is our way of reaching out and helping those neighborhoods that can least afford it,” he said. “That’s why we’re very excited about this. By providing the volunteers, equipment and materials to enhance the streetscape for the square we can thereby enhance the quality of life for Miracle Square’s elderly and disabled residents.”

Established in 1984, the Tucson Utility Contractors Association represents 120 members, who employ over 10,000 local workers in the electrical, public utility and road construction industry. The organization is a chapter of the National Utility Contractors Association, and American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

Giles Construction completes Fort Lowell Offices in January

General contractor Giles Construction is projecting a mid-January finish for construction of the Fort Lowell Offices, a 13,700-square-foot medical and professional center at 2210 E. Fort Lowell Road, near the intersection with Campbell Ave.

Designed by Tucson-based Acorn Associates Architects, the two-story masonry building is designed to handle up to six medical offices on the first floor and another six professional offices on the second, said broker and construction manager Herb Havins, principal for The Havins Co., which also manages Old Vail Station, a retail and office complex on Colossal Caves Road.

Originally intended for sale as condo suites, he said the medical office building will be marketed instead as Class A leased space. “We’ve had this under design for two years, but the cost of construction escalated to the point that it wasn’t economical to sell it. However, it’s a great location, so we think it will do fine as rental property.”

Marketing the property has already started and shell space is expected to be available for tenant improvements by mid-December. “If things follow the usual pattern, by the time the walls start going up, people will start calling,” Havins said.

Shopping center developer buys Marana site for new project

A 17-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Interstate 10 and Cortaro Farms Road in Marana has been acquired by commercial developer NCH/Transwest Corp. as the site of a new destination retail center serving Northwest Tucson, Marana and Oro Valley.

The company spent $3.14 million for the property, owned by First American Title Insurance Company as trustee. Debbie Heslop, with Tucson Realty & Trust Co., represented the buyer and seller.

Heslop said NCH/Transwest expects to begin construction this spring on the center, which will be similar to their other Tucson project, Plaza Colonial at Skyline Road and Cambell Avenue. “There will be upscale retail, restaurants and second floor office space.”

She said, “Marana has big box stores and neighborhood retail, but there’s not this type of high-end quality space. They see this as the missing component in the Marana commercial real estate market, and they’re hoping to fill it.”

Design is by Leo A. Daly Architects in Phoenix, Heslop said. “No general contractor has been chosen yet, because we’re still fairly early in the process. However, the timeline is to have tenants in place by the spring of 2007.”

Senior housing market forecast to stay good

Although senior housing demand remains concentrated on the higher-population states in the Midwest and Northeast, Arizona continues to be a strong market for independent and assisted living, as well as continuous care communities, according to the latest Senior Housing Research Report, released Oct. 4.

According to the report, prepared by Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage Co., Arizona added slightly less than 2,500 senior housing units over the last 12 months, ranking among the fastest growing areas in the nation.

Southern Arizona, especially, has attracted attention from developers, with the Meritage Homes community at Canoa Ranch, near Green Valley, winning several awards from the Senior Housing Council of the National Association of Home Builders and the ahead-of-schedule second-phase build-out for Splendido at Rancho Vistoso, in Oro Valley.

Sale of existing communities also remains strong for the Tucson area, with The Lakes, a 144-unit complex at 5666 E. Hampton St., selling for $7.65 million, or $53,125 per unit.

Nationally, a slowdown in construction, rise in occupancy and an evolving model tailored to the special needs of the market is keeping the outlook for senior housing favorable.

The outlook for seniors housing remains favorable through 2006, according to the report.

The independent-living sector will continue to outperform the other sectors of the market, the report forecast, as the nationwide occupancy rate remains at 91 percent.

Highest in occupancy, at 94 percent, and lowest in turnover, at 29 percent, continuing care retirement communities remained strong, with increased construction, compared to the first nine months of 2004. However, transactions remained minimal, due to the high number of nonprofit agency owners.

While the Northeast continues to lead in independent and assisted living occupancies, an assessment of supply and demand indicates the strongest markets are in San Jose, Sacramento and San Diego, where improved operations are drawing investors back into the assisted living sector with an average price up 2 percent from 2004, to $97,000 per unit.

Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and Tampa continue to record 95 percent occupancy rates for skilled nursing facilities, but nationwide construction continues to lag behind, recording only 2,400 units under construction, and the average price per bed continued to rise, jumping from $44,000 in 2004 to $50,000 by September 2005. Capitalization rates range from a low of 8.5 percent to 16.5 percent, with an average of 13 percent.

U.S. Mexican retirees focus

of Mexico City conference

For the third year, the National Association of Home Builders will be meeting in Mexico City to discuss the growing market for retirement homes, south of the border.

“Business Without Borders,” a joint meeting with CANDEVI, the Mexican home builders association, will be Nov. 3-5, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Mexico is gaining in international appeal as a vacation and retirement destination. Nearly 500,000 U.S. and Canadian citizens have already retired to Mexico and several hundred thousand more are expected over the next decade, drawn by the lower cost of living, scenery and the growth in the availability of modern conveniences.

Other topics for the conference will include the key issues for building south of the border, as well as new technologies and new building materials and financing.

The home builders will also be discussing land title and other legal issues affecting the Mexican real estate market, including contract enforcement and foreclosure procedures under Mexican state and federal law.

The cost is $300 for NAHB members or $450 for non-members. Students, spouses and guests cost $150. For further information, call (800) 368-5242, ext. 8338 or e-mail registrar@nahb.com.

Worth Noting

• Raymond Pisciotta paid $390,000 to Houghton Corridor Land Holdings for 39,000 square feet of land on Houghton Road, immediately southeast of the Valencia Road intersection. The property will be the site of a new BrakeMax Car Care Center. Benna Lacey, with Volk Company Commercial Real Estate, represented the seller. Paul Schloss, with Bourn Partners, represented the purchaser.

• Tucson Pure Water leased 5,000 square feet of commercial space at 701 S. Campbell Ave. from Vizsla Holdings. David Gallaher, with Tucson Industrial Realty, represented the tenant and landlord.

• Caffeine Partners purchased a one-acre lot at 1425 W. Grant Road for $250,000 from Smith Family Trust. Greg Furrier, with PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services, represented the purchaser. Robert Glaser, also with PICOR, represented the seller.

• Tucson Plumbing and Heating purchased a 3.48 acre parcel at Rita Ranch Commerce Center on Old Vail Road, from Lawyers Title of Arizona Trust No. 7799. Tim Healy, vice president with CB Richard Ellis Tucson, represented the buyer and seller.

• Moore Training, a personnel training company owned and managed by Whitney Moore, leased 4,060 square feet of retail space at Prince & Fairview Plaza, 901 W. Prince Road, from Prince & Fairview LLC. Bruce Suppes, with CB Richard Ellis Tucson, represented the tenant. Andy Seleznov, with Larsen Baker, represented the landlord.

• Center for Image Processing in Education leased 1,260 square feet of commercial space at the Dorado Office Park, 1611 N. Wilmot, from Deebco Properties. Robert Nolan and Andrew Sternberg, with Oxford Realty Advisors, represented the landlord and tenant.

• Dentist Paul Nguyen and dental surgeon Binh Tran purchased 1,642 square feet of medical office space at the Glenn Medical Center, on the southeast corner of East Glenn Street and North Wyatt Drive, from Desco Southwest. Randy Jones, with Oxford Realty Advisors, represented the buyer. Doug Marsh and Jill Fendelman, also with Oxford Realty Advisors, represented the seller.

• Giles Construction of Tucson is building the new Johnny Rockets Restaurant at Tucson Mall as general contractor for franchise owner BDK C.C. Ventures of Gilbert, Ariz.. Construction is scheduled for completion in November.

• Dan and Connie Lacey, owners of the medical equipment and supply company Med-Tech Systems, leased 3,435 square feet of retail space at 7835-7839 E. Broadway Blvd. from Broadway Powercenter Group. Tim Bentley, with Tucson Realty & Trust Co., represented the tenant. Andy Seleznov, with Larsen Baker, represented the landlord.

• Lewis Management Resources leased 2,35 square feet of office space at the La Cholla Corporate Center, 7560 N. La Cholla Blvd., from DAB Investments. Bruce Suppes, with CB Richard Ellis Tucson, represented the landlord. Tom Nieman, with PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services, represented the tenant.

• Giles Construction is building its 21st AutoZone store at 7615 W. Lower Buckeye Road in Phoenix.

Contact Philip S. Moore at pmoore@azbiz.com or at (520) 295-4238.