“Exciting” is the word used by Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson to describe the approaching 2014 calendar year as the town continues to trend in the right direction following the nation’s hard-hitting 2008 recession.
Along with a number of other developments coming to Marana next year, one of the most significant – a 400,000-square-foot outlet mall – will be constructed near the Interstate 10/Twin Peaks Interchange.
According to Davidson, the development will mirror the outlet mall found in Chandler, likely incorporating hotels, restaurants, and potentially an auto mall.
Groundbreaking is scheduled for March of next year, and project completion is set for 2015.
It’s one of the projects Mayor Ed Honea is most anxious to see come to fruition.
“This is going to be a big winner for the people in our region,” he said. “Our economy has really been picking up, and this year looks like it will be even better than last year.”
Public Information Officer Rodney Campbell said the project speaks volumes about Marana as a place to do business.
“We went through all those years of recession, wondering when it was going to end, and now things are starting to take off,” he said. “Projects that were sitting there, with people wanting to invest but hesitant in an unstable economy, those are now coming to life.”
In addition to the sales tax to be collected from the outlet mall, the town is looking at annexing several other areas to further drive revenues and square up the town boundary lines.
Though each annexation must go to council before approval, Davidson said three areas of interest include land near Cortaro Road east of the Willow Ridge development, a county island near the Twin Peaks and I-10 interchange, and an expansion north into Pinal County, with the goal of incorporating the Pinal Air Park.
“We’re always looking for ways to add value to the town,” said Davidson.
That’s exactly the goal when it comes to another development – that of Heritage Park, where staff is planning a multi-elemental atmosphere of recreation, education, retail, and commercial opportunities.
“It’s going to be a major project that will be done over many years,” said Davidson.
Honea adds that, “Heritage Park will provide the opportunity to respect the past and Marana’s heritage while providing new amenities to citizens.”
An additional park will be constructed near the Sky Ranch neighborhood at Tangerine and Camino De Manana roads.
Other recreational enhancements include an extension to The Loop Trail, which Davidson said will eventually run from Continental Ranch to Heritage Park. A new trail that extends from north Marana into Pinal County is also being discussed.
Along with the changes coming to Marana, residents can expect some of the same attractions they have grown accustomed to in years past, such as the Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain, Fourth of July and holiday celebrations, the Main Street Festival, and more.
“We want to see a healthy community, which is one with a lot of social activity, one where people can create memories,” said Davidson. “We want to foster that here.”
Above all, Davidson said he will continue to hold the Marana government to a high standard of expectation.
“Marana is working very hard internally to make sure we are an organization of excellence, making sure we are enhancing the culture of our organization, that we are an organization with excellent customer service, with well-run programs, and highly trained professionals who want to make sure this is an organization that can meet the dynamic needs of the community.”
The Town of Oro Valley is expecting a big 2014-year, particularly when it comes to an increase in activities for residents. The coming year will bring a flurry of recreational options, particularly in regards to the coming upgrades at Naranja Park. A $2.3 million renovation to the park will bring a 1.1-acre dog park, 180-space parking lot, two multi-sport athletic fields, and utilities, and is scheduled for completion by Jan. 1, 2015.
“I’m really looking forward to the future of the Naranja Park site,” said Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath. “Once that infrastructure goes in, you’ll be surprised how many people are out there taking a good look at it.”
The improvements will complement the completion of the park’s archery range, where Town Manager Greg Caton anticipates competitions and tournaments to be hosted.
The Oro Valley Aquatic Center continues to receive national recognition and will also be the host of competitions.
“In addition to hosting the 2014 National Synchronized Swimming Championships in April, it will also be the venue for multiple regional and state competitions for youth and U.S. Masters swimming,” said Caton.
Seniors (50+) will also see additional programming options in 2014, including discounts to the Aquatic Center, a safety series, wellness programs, hiking programs, and social/educational programs.
Hiremath said one of his main priorities in the coming year is to advocate for an activities center for children and teens that are disabled.
“This facility would provide parents the chance to drop off their children and have a night out to themselves,” said Hiremath. “So many parents who have mentally or physically disabled children tell me how few options there are for them. It’s then my job as mayor to work on promoting that.”
Residents will see many of their favorite events returning, such as the 10th Annual Arizona Distance Classic, which will be held on March 23, expected to have an estimated impact of $500,000. Also, the 2014 Team USA National Synchronized Swimming Championships will be held at the Aquatic Center on April 8-12.
Both events are expected to supplement an already solid fiscal outlook. Currently, Caton said the town is projecting a $700,000 surplus.
Other events, such as second Saturdays at Steam Pump ranch, the Farmer’s Market, Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting Festival, Fourth of July celebrations, and more, will continue.
April marks the town’s 40th anniversary, and between April 18 and 26, the town will host an anniversary dinner at the Oro Valley Country Club, and a celebration at Steam Pump Ranch.
Caton said the town continues to trend in the right direction when it comes to residential and commercial growth, and will experience more projects in 2014.
Some of those projects include a school expansion at Basis Oro Valley to add grades K-5 (expected in July), the San Dorado development, which will include business like The Mattress Firm, Panera Bread, and CVS Pharmacy, El Molinito, and Securaplane at Innovation Park.
“The residential market has recovered and we are seeing new commercial developments being built,” said Caton, who added that expanding the town boundary through annexation could be a possibility if it provides the town long-term benefits.