For several years, as our nation struggled through a downturned economy, the Town of Oro Valley also experienced a sharp decrease in development activity. Although we are still on the mend, a quick look back to fiscal year 2011-12 shows that development is on the rise, and there are some very exciting projects in the pipeline.
While our slow climb out of the Great Recession has certainly contributed to the uptick in OV’s development activity, there are some other factors at work.
The business and development atmosphere in Oro Valley is different.
Without compromising our standards for excellence, the development atmosphere has become more business-savvy and efficient. Town staff, many of whom have been recruited from the private industry, understand the potential challenges to successful development projects, and they know how to mitigate or solve problems that may arise. Town staff also realizes the ongoing importance of protecting our community through the vigorous application of code and statute.
The newly Council-approved Economic Expansion Zone (EEZ) is a code which maintains Oro Valley’s standards and aesthetics while simplifying the process and allowing developers to work through an administrative review process for project approvals which align with established code.
The new Conceptual Design Review Board (CDRB) has eliminated detailed engineering detail on plans to be approved through the Town’s public processes. This streamlines both the amount of work and cost needed to get a project approved, but it also speeds the entire process up. Even the Zoning Code has been rewritten to provide design guidelines that take the mystery out of what the Town expects.
With these innovative changes, development activity is finally on the rise.
In fiscal year 2011-12, 56 single-family residential (SFR) permits were issued. Since the beginning of this fiscal year FY 2012-13, 148 SFR permits have been issued. We are projecting to issue more than 200 SFR permits through the close of this fiscal year, which ends June 30—a 250 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
The total volume of permits is up dramatically as well, including commercial buildings, tenant improvements, home improvements and general miscellaneous construction. The Town estimates that it will issue more than 1,500 permits this fiscal year—a 34 percent increase over last fiscal year.
So what’s in the pipeline?
Projects currently under plan review, permit and/or under construction include:
LA Fitness (Oracle/Hardy)
Encantada Apartments at Steam Pump Village – 270 units
Great American Theater (former Ikes location)
San Dorado Apartments, including a CVS Pharmacy and Paradise Bakery (aka OV Town Centre)
Securaplane expansion at Innovation Park
In addition we are anticipating new and exciting projects to start soon such as:
SFR subdivisions (Rancho Vistoso Neighborhood 10 along Pebble Creek Drive as well as Rancho Vistoso Boulevard)
Rancho del Cobre SFR subdivision (south east corner of La Cholla Boulevard and Tangerine Road)
Rancho De Plata SFR subdivision (La Cholla Boulevard)
With the policy and code changes by Council, in combination with staff’s efficient and business friendly approach, Oro Valley is positioning itself to benefit from the economic recovery.
(Editor’s Note: Paul Keesler is the director of development and infrastructure services for the Town of Oro Valley.)