Think about the drive from Phoenix to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico – commonly called Rocky Point by gringo tongues, or “Arizona’s beach” by those disappointed that the 1853 Gadsden Purchase didn’t skew far enough south. Three hours of boring brown highway to the small border crossing in Lukeville, where you must present a passport, and close to another hour of beige desert until you hit the bright blue Sea of Cortez. Sure, you’d make the drive for a weekend of fresh shrimp tacos and cheap cerveza, but would you do it to board a big boat of endless buffets on the open water?
The governments of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, certainly think you will. They secured $13 million in early December 2017 from the Mexican federal government to complete the first phase of the long-delayed Rocky Point deep-water port. After nearly two years on hold, construction is expected to get back underway this year with a tentative end date of 2020.
“The biggest benefit is [it will] raise awareness of Puerto Peñasco and the region as a high-level tourist destination,” says Hector Vazquez del Mercado, president of the Puerto Peñasco Convention and Visitors Bureau. He says the port will serve as an origination/termination site, meaning cruises will start and end in Rocky Point, with a loop route including Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and San Felipe. “All of the staff, most of the time, move to where their jobs are, which means more cash flow and better infrastructure to the region,” he says. It also means construction, operation costs and jobs will likely be sourced locally, from Sonora and Arizona. The biggest issues Vazquez foresees? “Hotel infrastructure and commercial flight connections.”
Not to mention that drive, says Noam Meppen, franchise owner of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Scottsdale. “I just don’t see [cruisers] doing a border crossing, doing a long drive, leaving their car in Rocky Point for a week, to do a cruise along the Mexican Riviera when it’s just another hour to get to San Diego’s port and go to the same places [without needing a passport].” Meppen says he’d anticipate more success for the port if it was used as an intermediate port of call along a longer cruise.
If the port is built as planned, Vazquez concedes the project will have a huge impact on the entire Sonora-Arizona region. “An expansion of the closest border will be necessary, and a center of supplies, and all the transportation needs should be important to establish here close to the port,” he says. “Also, we will need… more tourist activity providers for the tourism growth that’s expected.” But we may be getting ahead of ourselves: It took two years to start building the dock.
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Scottsdale City Council has put the anticipated $68 million discovery center in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve on hold while opposition groups gather signatures to put it to a public vote in November 2018. Council also directed staff to look at alternative sites for the project, which has been controversial due to use of public funds yet lack of public input.
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13,309 –> 5,196
Homes are scarce in the Valley of the Sun. Since reaching a 10-year high in December 2010, the number of homes for sale in Phoenix, a statistic otherwise known as “raw inventory,” has fallen by more than half, as reflected in the numbers above.
Source: Zillow, HUD
GIMME (PRICEY) SHELTER
It’s a seller’s market these days, even for Richie Rich and other loaded celebrities. We take a look at some of the biggest sales of 2017 among Phoenix’s glitterati.
Actor Frankie Muniz: 4-bed, 5-bath Bitlmore-area mansion sold for $3.2 million, Dec. 2017
Phoenix Sun Devin Booker: Bought Paradise Valley home complete with a chef’s kitchen and a wine cellar for $3.25 million, June 2017
Arizona Cardinal Chandler Jones: Bought home in same Paradise Valley neighborhood as Michael Phelps for $2.9 million, May 2017
Robert Leo Hulseman Estate: The far North Scottsdale domain of the late inventor of the red Solo Cup (died 2016) is listed for a cool $12.5 million, Nov. 2017
CBS Sports analyst Nate Burleson: The former New York Jet sold his Spanish-style villa on Starfire Golf Course for $1.92 million, Aug. 2017