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Builders on Phoenix fringes may pay 400% more for roads, utilities, parks

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Business Gazette] — The cost of building a home in undeveloped parts of Phoenix may soon go up, and the cost could be passed along to home buyers.  Phoenix has convened a panel to advise the City Council on a staff proposal to increase impact fees, a series of charges the city makes to home builders for such items as roads, sewer hookups, parks, and libraries.  The staff proposal calls for some fees in northeast Phoenix to be raised by nearly 400%, a consequence of soaring construction costs and the fact that the fees have not been adjusted in several years.  The city uses the fees to pay for new roads and libraries and to hook up new developments to the city’s water and sewer systems.  Only projects in areas that have yet to be developed are charged the fees.

Desert View is the name planners have given to a swath of northeast Phoenix that includes most of the city northeast of Loop 101 and Interstate 17.  The impact fee for streets in Desert View could rise from $2,176 per dwelling unit, to $10,818.  The per-unit fee for parks would also rise, to $4,145, from $2,910.  In past years, developers have pressured the council to delay increases to the fees, saying they would discourage development of new homes.  Those delays have led to this year’s proposals.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Infrastructure not keeping up with growth, Phoenix officials say

[Source: “Should you pay more to fix Valley’s pipe problems?,” Christina Boomer, Channel 15 News] — There has been a record-setting submission of development proposals to the City of Phoenix to build in and around Downtown.  Developers are targeting older, single-family neighborhoods.  Assistant Director of Phoenix’s Water Services, Ray Quay, says, “There’s a lot of excitement and people very interested in the urban life.  So we’re seeing a lot more development proposals in the inner city area, the more urbanized portions of the city.”

Quay adds what he thinks is fueling the building craze in those areas, “We’ve heard about the Generation X wanting the urban life.  Phoenix is changing; it’s maturing, a lot of things going on in the downtown area.  We have the rail line going in and that’s quite exciting, ASU coming to downtown has sparked a lot of interest, the new Convention Center is going to be huge and that’s sparked a lot of activity.”

But there is a big, costly, item standing in the way of many of those proposals, aging water and sewer pipes.  Quay says, “We want to be sure that the infrastructure is in place for them to build where they want to build.  I mean that’s the key thing, infrastructure is part of safety.  We need to have adequate water supply to provide fire protection of these buildings and meet the domestic needs of these buildings.  We also need to provide sewer service with out having sanitary sewer overflows.  And so we want to be sure that in the areas that people want to build there’s adequate infrastructure to allow them to do that.”

Quay says one of the reasons why the infrastructure is not adequate is that the lines were built decades ago to support single-family homes.  They did not anticipate back then that there would be interest later in creating larger multi-level development projects such as a condominium tower.  “Predicting urban development is something we’ve never been really good at,” said Quay.  “No city is good at predicting urban development.  The infrastructure that was put in 50 years ago just was not sized because 50 years ago people really didn’t anticipate that that kind of development was going to occur there.  A lot of this new development is happening in areas where the infrastructure really was not designed to handle the higher-densities going on and in those areas infrastructure is needed.  If that development is realized in those places some significant infrastructure are going to have to be made at those locations.  It’s the places around town that we consider are becoming urbanized, 24th Street and Camelback, 44th Street and Camelback, Central and Camelback, Downtown.  Generally it’s those areas that are really becoming more urbanized over time.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]