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Written by Lauren Loftus Category: Valley News Issue: January 2018
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Does the West Valley have what it takes to bring Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters to Arizona?

Stonecrest, Georgia, will rename itself Amazon, Ga., if the e-commerce titan chooses to build its second headquarters there, bringing 50,000 jobs with an average salary above $100,000. The mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, apparently channeled all his free time into writing 1,000 five-star reviews about Amazon products to pimp his city. Tucson sent CEO Jeff Bezos a 21-foot saguaro cactus. As for Phoenix’s West Valley? There are 320 acres in Peoria to be named “Amazon Innovation Village,” two potential sites in Surprise and a $1,000 new job credit per employee earning $50,000 a year in Glendale. Yawn?

AmazonThe West Valley bids, submitted through the Greater Phoenix Economic Council along with Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, came as a last-minute surprise to tech media. Despite not being as gimmicky as others, city officials maintain their proposals are strong. “There is a uniqueness to us that I’d argue very few communities across the nation have,” says Surprise Economic Development Manager Mike Hoover. In its bid video, Surprise touts 100 acres of city center as the first possible site for Amazon HQ2. “We see Amazon helping to create the culture of our city’s downtown,” the video spokeswoman says, calling it a “blank canvas waiting to be painted.”

Ten miles away, Peoria officials also plugged their wide-open spaces itching for a giant tech development. “What makes Peoria’s proposal unique is the ability to create a large-scale, multifaceted corporate presence, including the corporate village in the Vistancia Commercial Core [along the Loop 303], the corporate retreat at Lake Pleasant, and available land for a corporate airpark,” says Mayor Cathy Carlat in an email.

So, can we expect to see a billboard proclaiming west side land the “future site of Amazon HQ2” on our next road trip? Amazon is keeping mum on its selection process, but we do know through its request for proposals that the company is looking for metro areas with proximity to an international airport, an educated workforce and the potential to attract strong technical talent. All things the West Valley has. Still, according to economics assessor Moody’s Analytics, geography may be a huge factor in the final pick (along with tax breaks and incentives, of course), due sometime this year. Since Amazon already has the West Coast covered from HQ1 in Seattle, it’s expected the company will head east to be closer to those well-established metro areas. The analysis scored Austin, Atlanta and Philadelphia the highest among the 238 proposals. The Phoenix area, sadly, did not break the top 10.

 

HomeStat: Negative Equity
Underwater. Upside down. In The Red. Familiar euphemisms, all, for “negative equity,” that dreaded condition of homeownership in which a given home’s mortgage balance is greater than its market value. Brutalized by negative equity during the recession, Valley homeowners are finally breathing easy.

Percentage of Valley Homes Underwater

Percentage of Valley Homes Underwater, Source: Zillow, HUD

 

Resort Life
The term “Resort Living” once conjured images of retirees heading to water aerobics class in their golf carts. These days, we mean living in an actual resort. C’est chic! A look at the Valley’s various resort residences:

The Ritz-Carlton Residences
Due end of 2018, rcpvluxury.com
“With one phone call, any want or need will be completed for [the homeowners] with the utmost ease,” says Jerry Ayoub, president of Five Star Development, which is building the new $2 billion Ritz-Carlton in Paradise Valley. The 139 residences start at $1 million, and include access to a dedicated concierge and in-residence dining.

Mountain Shadows Resort Condominiums
Opened Dec. 2017, mountainshadows.com/ownership
The 42 condos and lofts offer studio, one- and two-bedroom floor plans from between $840,000 to $4.1 million. “The amenities are what draw people to condo-hotel living,” says sales manager Tim Hundelt. The swag? Resort pool access, housekeeping, valet and concierge services, fitness classes and rounds of golf.

Arizona Biltmore Villas
arizonabiltmore.com
Between 1995 and 2005, 78 one- and two-bedroom units were built at the iconic Biltmore resort in Central Phoenix and sell today for $700K-$900K. Residents get access to resort amenities like the spa and fitness center, eight pools, and on-site restaurants.

 

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PHOENIX’s new page on housing, development and conservation news from around the Valley and beyond. Our readers have long requested more coverage of real estate issues. Here’s our response. Now we want to hear from you, again. Each month, send this editor your questions on Phoenix or Arizona land. No matter how outlandish. I’ll find the answer.
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