[Source: Jenny Vickers, Business Facilities] — Strategically positioned in the Southwest, the Greater Phoenix area is one of 10 U.S. markets projected to experience 85% of the nation’s growth over the next 35 years. Greater Phoenix, which consists of the City of Phoenix, much of the rest of Maricopa County, a large section of Pinal County, and small parts of southern Yavapai County, currently is the 13th largest area in the United States, with an estimated population of four million. The City of Phoenix is the largest state capital in the U.S. in terms of population and is the only state capital with a population of more than one million.
With a labor force of over two million people, Greater Phoenix is known as a business and innovation hub with international access for aerospace, high-tech, bioscience, advanced business, and sustainable technologies companies. Currently, over 20 major Fortune 500/1000 companies are located in Phoenix, such as Allied Waste, AT&T Inc., Bank of America, Boeing, Google, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. Honeywell’s Aerospace division is headquartered in Phoenix, and the valley hosts many of its avionics and mechanical facilities. Intel has one of its largest sites in the city, employing about 10,000 employees. Businesses are easily connected to the region, nation and the world with two major airports — Sky Harbor International Airport and Williams Gateway Airport — and a new light-rail system being launched in December 2008. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Christie Smythe, Arizona Daily Star] — The financial risks taken by Arizona home buyers and lenders in the housing run-up came home to roost in last week’s financial crisis. As Tucson, Phoenix, and Pinal County struggle with excesses of home inventory and painful drops in values, big financial companies that helped inflate the bubble are suffering, even up to venerable Wall Street institutions such as Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. “It was a vicious cycle of greed,” said University of Arizona finance professor Christopher Lamoureux, referencing home buyers, lenders, and Wall Street investors, and others who contributed to the situation. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Click on the graphic to view it full-size.]
[Source: Catherine Reagor, Arizona Republic] — The message delivered by top Valley real-estate and government leaders Tuesday at an annual growth conference at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa was twofold: the Valley needs to invest billions in transportation and create more jobs closer to housing communities if it wants to handle the 6 million people expected to move here by 2050.
The Urban Land Institute and Valley Partnership conference drew more than 500 people who gathered to hear the results of a growth exercise held in May aptly called Reality Check. The goal of that exercise, the first of its kind in the Valley, was to come up with ways to better handle growth. Among the key findings:
- A $25 billion investment is needed in transportation, which would mean a sales-tax increase of 1.3 cents per dollar over the next 20 years.
- 70% of transportation funding should go to light rail, commuter rail, and bus service and the remaining 30% to new freeways.
- Most participants believe there needs to be a commuter-rail line connecting Phoenix to Tucson.
- About 75% of new housing must be developed beyond the 101 and 202 freeways.
- One-third of the new homes will likely need to go up in Pinal County.
[Source: Morrison Institute, Arizona State University] — Arizona is one of the nation’s most urban states, and now it includes one of 20 “megapolitan” areas in the U.S. People have predicted for 50 years that Phoenix and Tucson would grow together into a giant desert conglomerate — a possibility that has been seen as exciting, intriguing, and distressing. While a solid city is unlikely given the diverse land ownership in central and southern Arizona, it is true that the two metro economies are merging.
Morrison Institute’s new report “Megapolitan: Arizona’s Sun Corridor,” one of the first reports in the U.S. on a single megapolitan area, recognizes a more sophisticated technique for analyzing urban growth — that shared economic and quality of life interests are more important than physically growing together. The report offers a bold potential picture of Arizona’s urban geography, its future opportunities, and “megaton” challenges. Just released and available online, it presents a scenario for 2035 based on some current trends. It analyzes the Sun Corridor and provides insights into the region’s global potential, water, governance, sustainability, and “trillion dollar questions.” It discusses the “tragedy of the sunshine” and asks the provocative question: In 2035, will you want to live in the Sun Corridor?
[Source: Arizona Republic] — Providing fast, efficient bus service for commuters in the southeast Valley’s far-flung communities is proving to be one of the most promising ways to ease gridlock. But it’s not without pitfalls, as Queen Creek learned last year when its rapid bus route to Tempe was dropped after attracting only a handful of riders. This week, the city of Maricopa southwest of Chandler — it’s in Pinal County — is taking a calculated risk by launching a rapid bus route for commuters to and from downtown Phoenix, and transit officials are eager to see how many riders climb on board – and stay on board.
Fortunately, we have enough experience now from the few true rapid bus routes in our region to be able to predict which prospective routes have the best chances for success. And we’re betting the new Maricopa service will do well, and perhaps so well that it will need to be expanded. Queen Creek and other outlying areas surely are taking notice.
The new Maricopa service is really an extension of the wildly successful rapid bus service between Ahwatukee and downtown Phoenix. Transit officials had noticed many of the cars that were jamming the Ahwatukee park-and-ride lot were from Maricopa. It’s a no-brainer that those commuters would rather board a bus in their own community if they have the option. [Note: To read the full editorial, click here.]