For most cities, it is a rare opportunity to have more than a block of real estate to play with and more often than not, the result is another block of flats - great for the developers, but how can space be better used to leverage a cycle of increased investment in the area? In Tucson, Arizona, the city has been granted such a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop the space vacated by the Downtown Tucson Airport property. Covering 350 acres, this development project is forecast to rejuvenate an area right in the heart of the city. The hope is that this development and the companies that lease the space will establish Tucson as a city with serious aspirations for the future with financial investment as the key barometer of such future success.
The site sits in a good location, just north of the I-10 highway, east of Kino Parkway, north of 36th Street and to the west of the Union Pacific Railroad line. Whilst the site has been vacant since 2007, it is only recently that the concrete plans for near-future construction have been certificated. So why has this come to a head only now? Tucson is undergoing a revitalisation, championed by increased investment thanks to its desirable attributes, easy-going lifestyle and well-educated workforce. Tucson’s prospects are prosperous and developers see now as the perfect opportunity to launch this project as the development of the future.
The University of Arizona, local Tucson-based developers Bourn and Retail West have all purchased acreage out of the 350 available. So far, Retail West have established The MArketplace at The Bridges in the southern area of the complex and have, thus far, pioneered the first wave of construction with large floor-area, box-stores and smaller satellite retail stores from more independent companies. The mix of large-scale and boutique shopping will draw for Tucson locals for years to come, establishing the complex as an important destination in the lives of many in the Tucson community.
Bourn, the local development group, purchased 112 acres in mid-2018 for $18 million. Their aim is three-fold: corporate, creative and community-driven. Their first completed project was the Geico Regional Headquarters; a 3-storey, 200,000 square foot space covering 20 acres and housing 2000 employees. All three contributing developers have approached this project with a future vision of Tucson in mind. Here, Bourn has shown preliminary steps to ensure environmental sustainability by harnessing the 300 average days of sunshine in Tucson via solar-paneled roofing above the parking lot. Their second project is due to be a creative and educational district which will play home to the PIMA Joint Educational District (JTED). Constriction on this 50,000 square foot space, situated in the northwest of the complex near the I-10, began in 2019. Designed by WSM Architects in an ultra-modern style, the building will be connected to a second by a skybridge. Bourn’s final involvement in the development of the complex will be the 25-acre, on-site community park. This is due to feature a multitude of facilities from bike paths and dog parks to manicured green spaces and sports facilities.
However, most highly-anticipated of all the projects is the University of Arizona Technology Park. Having purchased 65 acres of land at the outset of the planning back in early 2010s, the construction is expected to begin in 2020. The jewel in the crown of the Tech Park will be the Innovation Technology Complex, which is designed to anchor the other facilities including offices, laboratories, hotels and conference centres. The project shows clear intent to attract more of America’s biotech and biomedical research companies to the Southwest with a vision for more future investment.
The opportunity to develop such a vast area of premium commercial real estate in any city is a rare occurrence. It is clear that the development of the space to include corporate, commercial, retail, technology and science facilities is a step in the right direction for Tucson, Arizona. The developers have collaboratively taken this opportunity to augment Tucson by enlarging its sphere of influence, appealing for more investment and enhancing quality of life for existing residents. Armed with a clear vision of what cities should aim to achieve in the next two decades or so, the University of Arizona and Bourn are championing environmental sustainability, a healthy work-life balance and quality infrastructure. Considering all of these factors, Tucson is a city on the cusp of a renaissance and ripe for investment.
To find out more about your real estate investment opportunities in Tucson, Arizona, contact Propeterra today.