Housing and commercial construction is starting to take off in Coconino County and the city of Flagstaff.
Coconino County Community Development Director Jay Christelman told a joint work session of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors and the Flagstaff City Council Monday that his department had tracked a 35 percent increase in home building permits in 2014.
The department has watched that trend continue into the first three months of 2015 for all of the permits that the county issues for building, environmental quality, engineering and planning and zoning, he said.
“We’re issuing between 60 and 80 permits a month,” he said. “This is substantial permit activity for us. This is all permit activity. This isn’t just a single-family home or a manufactured home. This is porches, reroofs, everything that the department permits for.”
The city of Flagstaff is also seeing a boom in construction, said City Community Development Director Mark Landsiedel.
“In 2004, our total permits were at about $100 million,” he said. The values of permits issued peaked in in 2006 and then fell abruptly with the housing market crash in 2007.
“The good news is we’re back up to about the 2004 level. In 2014 calendar year we did about $95 million in permit,” Landsiedel said.
TWO NEW HOTELS
A number of commercial and residential projects are in the pipeline for the city, he said. Two hotels are currently under construction north of Country Club Drive. The east hotel sits on 2.3 acres and will have 98 rooms. The west hotel sits on two acres and will have 100 rooms. Site plans have been approved for both of them. It’s unknown which hotel chains will operate the two buildings.
There are also several apartment buildings in the works for the Flagstaff area, Landsiedel said.
The Mountain Trail Apartments are slated for 7.34 acres at 927 West Forest Meadows St.. The project will have 160 units and 15 buildings, he said. A conditional use permit and site plan have already been approved.
The Lofts of Flagstaff are also slated for West Forest Meadows Street. That project will sit on 6.08 acres south of Kohl’s and will have 227 units with 12,240 square feet of commercial space. The site plan for the project has yet to be approved by staff.
At 600 West University Heights Drive North, the 111-unit Trailside Apartments complex is scheduled to be built. The units will be split up into six buildings. A rezoning and site plan has been approved for the project.
The Village at Aspen Place on East Piccadilly Drive is already under construction, when finished it will have 222 units and 33,000 square feet of commercial.
The Standard, which caused an uproar in 2014 because it would have displaced the residents of the Arrowhead Village trailer park, has moved farther west up Route 66. The new footprint does not include the trailer park. That project will have around 160 units and nearly 18,000 square feet of commercial space. The site plan for the project is still pending approval by staff and an Arizona Department of Transportation traffic study is in review.
The Super Pawn and the Mandarin Buffet on Milton Road will be replaced with a new CVS pharmacy, Landsiedel said. The site is around 1.67 acres and the building is planned to be nearly 13,000 square feet in size. The site plan for the project is still pending approval from staff and an ADOT traffic review study is in progress.
The new Guardian ambulance building at 1901 N. Gemini Drive is under construction. The 16,250-square-foot building will sit on 3.1 acres and house the vehicles for the company, he said.
On the other side of Forest Avenue, but still on Gemini Drive, construction is underway on the new Innovation Mesa Business Accelerator, Landsiedel said. The project is funded jointly by the Economic Development Agency, Northern Arizona University and the city of Flagstaff.
The 28,000-square-foot building will have 26 offices, six wet laboratories and two light manufacturing spaces, he said. The facility will be owned by the city but run by the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.
Evergreen Development has already started dirt work on building the new 30,000 square foot Sportsman’s Warehouse at the Trax commercial subdivision planned near Route 66 and the Fourth Street railroad overpass. The land was originally owned by the city and sold to Evergreen-Trax in October for more than $3 million. The project will be built out in three phases with a total of 18 lots and 195,000 square feet of office/retail space.
The city is also expecting a new rezoning application from Canyon Del Rio on East Butler Avenue, Landsiedel said. That project is expected to have nearly 1,400 dwelling units and 75,000 square feet of commercial space.
The city hasn’t received an application yet from Little America on its planned expansion, he said. That project will cover 537 acres off of East Butler Avenue.
The city will also be getting a new movie theater. Harkins Theater is moving to the Village at Flagstaff Mall. The theater will sit on 20 acres with six pads for other new businesses that may want to move in. The theater will be around 114,000 square feet with 16 screens. The site plan has yet to be approved, but grading is expected to start this month.
The old Harkins Theater on Woodlands Village Boulevard will house new offices for the Arizona Department of Transportation. The old ADOT offices will be razed so the city can realign Beulah Boulevard and University Drive. In exchange for renovating the old theater, Vintage Partners will be granted 17.2 acres of commercial space surrounding the new intersections of Beulah Boulevard and University Drive and Milton Road and University Drive.
DUPLEXES IN COUNTY
As for the county, most of the development is in single-family homes and small-scale multi-family developments, such as duplexes, Christelman said. Most have already been approved but the county’s weekly pre-application meetings for new developments are filling up quickly each week.
The department is expecting to also see some small commercial developments near Doney Park along the Highway 89 corridor, including a proposed Dollar General, he said. A new 64-lot subdivision is also looking at Doney Park.
Kachina Village North, a 129 lot subdivision, is also expected to come before staff in the next few months, Christelman said.
Some of the challenges the developers will face are access to water and wastewater treatment. Around 60 percent of the county’s residents haul their water or have it delivered to their home, he said.
There are also very few wastewater treatment plants in the county. On top of that, many of the lots left available in areas such as Mountainaire and Kachina Village are less than one acre in size. State law prohibits septic systems on lots of those sizes, Christelman said. Developers can install alternative wastewater systems for these homes, but the systems are usually very expensive and hard to install.
Developers are also running into problems with the distance to public safety services, such as the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and local fire districts. The local fire districts are few and far between, he said. This increases the response time to some developments and insurance rates.
Councilmember Eva Putzova asked who the clientele will be for the multiple apartment complexes that are planned for the city.
Landsiedel said the growth of Northern Arizona University is driving a lot of the apartment complexes but he expected the units would be occupied by a mix of students and faculty.
Putzova said the city should probably expect most of the units to be filled by students.
“I haven’t heard of any large employers coming Flagstaff,” she said.
Vice Mayor Celia Barotz asked how many of the apartment complexes had requested conditional use permits for room and board facilities. This type of permit allows an apartment complex to rent by the room instead of a full apartment.
Landsiedel said he was aware that some of the complexes were looking at the idea but he didn’t know of any who had applied for the permit.