Daily Archives: July 20, 2008

Phoenix developers came to rely on Mortgages Ltd.

[Source: Andrew Johnson, Arizona Republic] — Many Arizona developers relied on Mortgages Ltd. In a business where even minor delays can add millions of dollars to projects, real-estate developers turned to the Phoenix-based commercial-mortgage lender for hard cash fast.  In most cases, the company and its investors financed short-term loans intended to bridge gaps between the equity a developer was investing in a project and what it intended to obtain later from other lenders.

Mortgages Ltd. often financed real-estate projects deemed too risky by more-conventional lenders.  With the company now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, many local industry analysts feel that the risky loans may have contributed to the company’s financial problems.  In return for fast approval at higher risk, developers paid significant upfront fees and higher interest rates than traditional bank lenders typically charge.  Developers accepted the higher costs because they might not qualify for loans elsewhere.

Phoenix-based APEX Development Group obtained three loans in recent years from Mortgages Ltd. for residential projects in south and central Phoenix.  APEX principal Gary Leavitt said quick loan approval was a primary reason his company turned to the lender.  Mortgages Ltd. isn’t the only hard-money lender in town, but it’s the largest with $925 million in outstanding loans.  The firm’s loan portfolio includes such high-profile developments as the Centerpoint condo high-rise in downtown Tempe, Hotel Monroe in downtown Phoenix, and Main Street Glendale, a 500-acre sports and entertainment project near University of Phoenix Stadium[Note: To read the full article, click here.  To read a related article about individual investors caught up in the situation, click here; to read about Southwest Value Partners’ decision to withdraw an offer to provide financing to Mortgages Ltd., click here.]

Growing Western cities at crossroads, report says

[Source: Ashley Powers, Los Angeles Times] — As outlying sagebrush was quickly devoured by starter homes and chain stores, Las Vegas began grappling with the kinds of problems that long have vexed California: Crowded classrooms.  Packed freeways.  Not enough water.  Immigrants who struggle to learn English.  Rising poverty.  Similar issues have bedeviled the areas around Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque.  By 2040, Las Vegas and its four brethren will grow by nearly 12.7 million people.

While a booming population is turning the Intermountain West into an economic force and political battleground, a Brookings Institution report released today suggests that without help from the federal government, its major cities are headed for trouble.  “These places are going to be overwhelmed if they’re left to go it alone,” said Mark Muro, policy director of the nonpartisan think tank’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah — a region the study dubbed the “new American Heartland” — was the least developed part of the U.S. in 1950.  There isn’t even an interstate linking Las Vegas and Phoenix because they were mere blips when the nation’s highway system was mapped out.  But from 2000 to 2007, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah boasted the nation’s top three population growth rates; the Las Vegas area alone jumped 31%, to more than 2 million people. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

What are Phoenix’s most walkable neighborhoods?

Walk Score ranks 2,508 neighborhoods in the largest 40 U.S. cities.  And how does Phoenix stack up?  Overall, Phoenix ranks 28th.  10% of Phoenix residents have a Walk Score of 70 or above, 53% have a Walk Score of at least 50, and 47% live in Car-Dependent neighborhoods.

The top three walkable areas in metro Phoenix are Encanto, Central City, and Camelback East.  Type in your address and determine the Walk Score for your neck of the woods.


1st tower of downtown ASU dorm opens Aug. 20

ASU Taylor Place dorms (Tom Tingle, Arizona Republic)[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Within a few weeks, hundreds of students will replace the sight of construction workers at the Taylor Place dorms on Arizona State University’s downtown campus.  Students will begin moving Aug. 20 into the first tower of the 13-story dorm complex, 120 E. Taylor Street.

The second tower will be open in fall 2009.  About 60 students and their families tour the building each week, said Jennifer Shea, director of operations at Taylor Place.  “Students are really jazzed about this,” Shea said.  About 382 students have signed up to live in the dorm.  The first tower has 744 beds.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]