Industrial Project Raise Concerns for Residents
The problem comes down to land use.
Trammell Crow Co., a real estate development and investment firm, is under contract to buy the land from Univision, the Spanish-language television station across the street. The purchase, however, is subject to Trammell Crow’s success in rezoning the land from residential use to industrial.
If approved, plans call for constructing roughly 300,000 square feet of warehouse space – divided between two 40-foot-high buildings – on 19 acres. Five acres on the property’s west side would remain undeveloped.
“It’s just not an industrial site,” stressed Manuel Sandoval, a South Mountain resident and former industrial development consultant.
In addition to worries about truck traffic near homes and several schools, he’s concerned about constructing the project without confirmed tenants.
“There is no industrial demand, so it’s purely speculative,” he said, adding that the property’s appeal is likely based on lower land prices.
Jim Mahoney, senior managing director at Trammell Crow Co., disagrees. He said the company’s studies show underserved demand in the area. What’s more, he’s been contacted by potential tenants, even though the rezoning change isn’t guaranteed.
“We’ve entertained multiple people already, in terms of their interest in this property – good employers,” he said. “It has to do with the scarcity of land in and around the airport in the center of the city.”
Jay Wolfson, a retired real estate appraiser who owns property nearby, is concerned allowing an industrial project on Southern Avenue could set a dangerous precedent for future development. He said he spoke to at least two residential developers who expressed interest in the land, but were turned away.
“They’re (Trammell Crow) trying to intrude on a residential area simply because the land is cheap,” he added.
Wolfson also notes that a residential subdivision could help support area schools and create more demand for shopping centers and professional offices – needed amenities along Southern Avenue between 24th and 32nd streets.
In 2001, Trammell Crow completed a project on the southwest corner of 32nd Street and Broadway Road that’s similar to the proposed one on Southern Avenue. Mahoney said the 38-acre Phoenix I-10 Business Park has never had a vacancy.
The users, he emphasized, generally have much smaller size requirements than companies with distribution centers in southwest Phoenix, such as Amazon.com, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Gap.
For Kent June, who lives near 32nd Street and Vineyard Road, concerns center around the impact an industrial facility would have on residents outside the immediate area.
“You’re going to have a lot of trucks and they’re 24-hour operations.” he said. “It changes the whole character of the area.”
Mahoney points to the Phoenix I-10 Business Park as proof truck traffic won’t be comparable to what’s seen in southwest Phoenix. And although he understands concerns about preserving Southern Avenue, the reality is the road is designed to carry twice its current amount of traffic.
“We had nothing to do with Southern Avenue being designed as an arterial (street),” he said. “It’s designed as a reliever to I-10 to get traffic from east Phoenix and Tempe to Laveen.”
Mahoney anticipates the project – if built – will create an estimated 300-400 “high-quality” jobs. Nearly 600 people work at the Phoenix I-10 Business Park.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I thought I was doing something detrimental to the area,” he added.
An informal presentation about the project was delivered to the South Mountain Village Planning Committee and Trammell Crow has held three public meetings. According to Mahoney, a Phoenix City Council decision about the project won’t likely come until the beginning of 2014.