Sprouts Center retail property in Mesa sold for $18.5M

Sprouts Center, a 55,615-square-foot grocery anchored shopping center at 5225 E. Southern Ave. in Mesa, was recently sold for $18.5 million, according to John M. Leonard, regional manager of the Marcus & Millichap’s Atlanta office.

“This transaction highlights the desirability of grocery anchored centers during any cycle. Despite generating a significant amount of offer interest within a short amount of time, we were competing with rapidly rising interest rates paired with static deal pricing,” Marc Irvin, first vice president investments in Marcus & Millichap’s Atlanta office, said in a release.

Marcus & Millichap is a commercial real estate brokerage firm specializing in investment sales, financing, research and advisory services.

Irvin had the exclusive listing to market the property on behalf of the seller, an Arizona based private investor. The buyer was a Fresno, California, based family trust in a 1031 exchange, according to the release.

“Extensive networking ultimately landed the best buyer for our client. This deal happened as a result of interacting with others and not relying on just passive marketing via the Internet. Having specialized experience enabled us to predict nuances during the due diligence process that helped facilitate a successful close for the buyer and seller,” he said.

Ryan Sarbinoff, regional manager in the Phoenix office, was the broker of record and assisted in this transaction.

For information, go to MarcusMillichap.com.

NHWA awards national accreditation to West Valley agencies | Business

The National Home Watch Association recently handed out national accreditation to home watch agencies across Arizona, and two receiving recognition are from the West Valley.

The National Home Watch Association (NHWA) was formed in 2009 to establish and maintain the highest industry standards for Home Watch and absentee homeowner services throughout the United States and Canada. Home Watch is a visual inspection of a home or property, looking for obvious issues, which means that it is a service that “keeps an eye on things” at your vacation or primary home while you are not in residence.

For more information on the NHWA, visit nationalhomewatchassociation.org.

AZ Home Watch Pros

AZ Home Watch Pros has earned accreditation from the National Home Watch Association.

Co-owner Regino (Reggie) Alfonso was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in Phoenix. He is married and a dad to three children. Alfonso spent almost 20 years in higher education, serving most of that time as an operation executive. During that time, he was a licensed Realtor for several years, as he’s always had a passion for seeing people realize their home-ownership goals.

Eventually, Alfonso became a licensed mortgage loan officer, where he continues to promote ownership through making real estate goals a reality. His favorite aspect of the mortgage industry is the level of trust he builds with his clients.

There are very few people in life that you provide all your sensitive financial information to, and Alfonso takes that responsibility very seriously. As a result, he’s built lifelong repeat clients who feel more like close friends that you share big moments in life with. These clients value the trust they’ve built together and trust Alfonso to point them in the right direction for other important services.

This is why he is passionate about the Home Watch industry. Alfonso understands how important home investment is and how necessary it is to feel comfortable when you’re leaving that investment behind for certain periods of time. He remains committed to ensuring his clients’ homes are kept maintained and secure if they must be away. 

Co-owner Erik Tice grew up in Upstate New York and earned a bachelor’s degree from Cazenovia College in Cazenovia, New York. 

After graduating, he moved to Scottsdale with his wife and earned an MBA from Grand Canyon University. Tice and his wife reside in North Phoenix with their two dogs. After continuing to work for Grand Canyon University for more than 10 years, Tice eventually entered the mortgage industry and began to build relationships with many real estate agents. He was fortunate to work with many jumbo loans (luxury homes) and reverse mortgages (for those aged 62 and up) clients. 

Through building strong relationships with his mortgage clients, he realized there is a need for trusted Home Watch companies in the Valley. Tice is extremely passionate about building the most reliable and trusted Home Watch company in Arizona. 

Based out of Litchfield Park, AZ Home Watch Pros serves all of Arizona, including West Valley, East Valley, Central Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott and Lake Havasu, among others. It can be reached at 623-261-9127 or at info@azhomewatchpros.com. Learn more at its website, azhomewatchpros.com.

Estrella Mountain Home Watch Services PLUS

Estrella Mountain Home Watch Services PLUS has earned accreditation from the National Home Watch Association for the third year.

Rick and Shannon Thomson moved to Estrella Mountain Ranch and wanted to build a type of business that would serve the community. Prior to starting his Home Watch business, Rick worked for years in logistics and transportation management, as well as project management. He spent his early years working in golf course design and construction. Shannon is a Realtor and has experience in real estate sales and property management.

As local homeowners and full-time residents of Estrella Mountain Ranch, Rick and Shannon saw a unique opportunity to help serve their neighbors so they could rest assured that their biggest investment would be well taken care of while they are home or away.

When they are not working, Rick and Shannon enjoy volunteering in local organizations. They are working toward their overall goal of building a business structure that can support Rick and Shannon’s idea of financial yearly support to nonprofit organizations within their community, supporting others by giving back.

Estrella Mountain Home Watch Services PLUS offers Home Watch services, maintenance, key holder, concierge and real estate services so it can provide its clients with a unique, niche, one-stop shop. Clients include snowbirds, second homeowners, vacationers and investors.

Based out of Goodyear, Estrella Mountain Home Watch Services PLUS can be reached at 602-920-7175 or info@estrellamountainhomewatch.com. Learn more from their website, at estrellamountainhomewatch.com.

Morant, Memphis set for matchup with Phoenix

By The Associated Press

Memphis Grizzlies (31-14, second in the Western Conference) vs. Phoenix Suns (23-24, 10th in the Western Conference)

Phoenix; Sunday, 8 p.m. EST


BOTTOM LINE: Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies visit the Phoenix Suns. Morant is 10th in the league averaging 27.2 points per game.

The Suns are 18-13 in Western Conference games. Phoenix is sixth in the league with 11.9 offensive rebounds per game led by Deandre Ayton averaging 2.8 offensive boards.

The Grizzlies are 15-11 against conference opponents. Memphis leads the league with 13.4 offensive rebounds per game led by Steven Adams averaging 5.0.

The two teams match up for the fourth time this season. The Grizzlies defeated the Suns 136-106 in their last matchup on Jan. 16. Morant led the Grizzlies with 29 points, and Mikal Bridges led the Suns with 21 points.

TOP PERFORMERS: Ayton is averaging 17.5 points and 9.9 rebounds for the Suns. Damion Lee is averaging 1.8 made 3-pointers over the last 10 games for Phoenix.

Morant is averaging 27.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 7.9 assists for the Grizzlies. Jaren Jackson Jr. is averaging 15.4 points over the last 10 games for Memphis.

LAST 10 GAMES: Suns: 3-7, averaging 103.8 points, 45.0 rebounds, 26.2 assists, 6.0 steals and 3.4 blocks per game while shooting 43.2% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 112.3 points per game.

Grizzlies: 9-1, averaging 125.3 points, 51.2 rebounds, 25.7 assists, 9.2 steals and 6.9 blocks per game while shooting 48.9% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 114.4 points.

INJURIES: Suns: Cameron Payne: out (foot), Devin Booker: out (groin), Chris Paul: out (hip), Landry Shamet: out (foot), Deandre Ayton: out (illness).

Grizzlies: Danny Green: out (knee).


The Associated Press created this story using technology provided by Data Skrive and data from Sportradar.

Portuguese-Owned Boutique Hotel Brand AlmaLusa Aims to Lure Travelers From Big Chains

When international travelers visit Portugal, some may look for a big chain you’d find in, say Phoenix. But AlmaLusa, a boutique hotel brand founded in 2016, is banking on travelers looking for something more authentic.

“For the brand, the goal is to showcase Portuguese culture,” said Sofia Brandao, director of sales and marketing for AlmaLusa. That’s reflected in everything from the art on the walls to the items sold at their boutique. Even the water provided in the rooms is filtered and bottled by a local supplier.  

So far, the formula seems to be working. The luxury boutique hotel brand has a 92 percent booking rate at their first hotel, the AlmaLusa Baixa/Chiado in the heart of Lisbon (located in a former arsenal), said Brandao.

It launched its newest hotel, in Comporta, late last year. Now it’s working on another hotel opening in Lisbon this summer. The AlmaLusa Sé, with 25 rooms, will be a couple of blocks from the AlmaLusa Baixa/Chiado property.

“It’s all about putting together something that could deliver a story,” Brandao said.

The Hamptons of Europe

Just over an hour south of Lisbon is the small fishing and farming village of Comporta, located on a long stretch of sandy beach, often named one of the most beautiful in Portugal. It has good local restaurants, white sand beaches, and surrounding rice patties.

It’s one of those places the locals all know but is only appearing on travelers’ maps now — with some publications referring to it as the “Hamptons of Europe” due to its similar coastal exclusivity.

The AlmaLusa Comporta, which opened in November, is the only hotel in the town itself. While other hotels say they’re in Comporta, they’re actually in nearby towns or on the outskirts, while AlmaLusa is central, with a 15-minute walk to the beach. Many of the other lodging options are villa rentals. 

“Comporta is a village that dates back two centuries, and so we wanted to create a place that harmonized with the community and nature,” Brandao said. “The building had to have respect for the people who were there before us.” 

AlmaLusa, like many boutique hotels right now, prides itself in its sustainability efforts — focusing on all the typical points of using less energy and avoiding plastic when possible. Yet the brand says it takes things further than just saving water.

“Sustainability for us is also about caring for the community,” said Brandao. “We give priority to partners who are local.” 

That community support is reflected in things like training and hiring locals, promoting experiences led by local guides, and encouraging guests to try local dining options and not just stay on the property. 

Encouraging guests to leave the property works from a community-supporting standpoint. Still, it may prove a bold move financially, as more real estate projects pop up in the area that likely won’t have the same mission.

The pool at the AlmaLusa Comporta in Portugal. Source: AlmaLusa.

Tourism Shift

It makes sense that highlighting Portuguese culture would be one of AlmaLusa’s main selling points. The name alone is a tip-off. Alma means “soul” in Portuguese, while Lusa is short for Lusitanians, which Brandao points out were one of the first inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. 

“Every time we want to refer to our culture, we use the word ‘Lusa,’ and it distinguishes us from the Spanish,” said Brandao, because the Lusitanians were located more in what is now Portugal. 

Back in 2012, AlmaLusa’s founder and CEO, Miguel Simões De Almeida, saw a lack in Portugal of small boutique hotels that had a uniqueness in service that would make the guest feel like a member, explained Brandao. 

Before launching AlmaLusa, Simões De Almeida opened Aquapura, a luxury hotel and spa in the Douro River Valley, which Six Senses acquired in 2013. 

“We’ve seen a big shift in travelers to Portugal wanting something between big chains and the smaller options with a lack of service,” said Brandao. With an emphasis on character-filled boutique hotels, and a goal of updated, inclusive service, AlmaLusa wants to be the hotel brand that fills that gap.

“We describe AlmaLusa as providing modern, intelligent luxury,” said Brandao. To them, that equates to free water, free wifi, and free use of mobile phones in the room to make local and international calls (well, a free 30 minutes of international calls per day, anyway). 

While service is a priority — it’s considered a luxury brand, after all — the company’s staff strive to avoid coming across as stuffy, whether that’s in Comporta or Lisbon. Don’t expect to see any bellboys in suits.

“Our guests are wearing jeans, and they don’t want to walk into a place that feels so formal,” Brandao said.

Also, AlmaLusa is banking on another tourism trend Brandao has noticed in Portugal — more and more travelers doing self-drives around the country.

“Twenty years ago, it was unthinkable for travelers to visit a destination like Porto or Lisbon and then travel to another,” said Brandao.

If travelers continue to explore more “off the beaten path” locations on road trips, there’s much more potential for growth in Portugal. AlmaLusa has branched out with Comporta, and the question remains whether they can keep the momentum up and open more properties throughout the country that travelers are willing to visit.

Okta and Meritage Homes have been highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – January 20, 2023 – Zacks Equity Research shares Okta OKTA as the Bull of the Day and Meritage Homes MTH as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Shell plc SHEL, Volta Inc. VLTA and Murphy USA MUSA.

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

I last profiled Okta as the Bull of the Day in mid-October as shares slid to $50 per share.

It’s time to revisit this Zacks #1 Rank again after more positive moves in earnings estimates from analysts.

Okta is an $11 billion provider of identity security for enterprises. This is a key service where password security is a continuous vulnerability point.

Primary products consist of Okta IT and Okta for Developers. Okta IT Products include Single Sign-On, Mobility Management, Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication, Lifecycle Management and Universal Directory.

Okta for Developers includes Complete Authentication, User Management, Application Programming Interface Access Management and Developer Tools.

Here’s what I wrote in October as shares collapsed to $50…

Estimates Higher, Stock Clobbered After Quarter Confusion and Management Moves

On August 31, Okta reported second-quarter fiscal 2023 adjusted loss of 10 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 66.67%. The company had reported a loss of 11 cents per share in the year-ago quarter.

Total revenues surged 43.2% year over year to $451.8 million and surpassed the consensus mark by 4.93%. The upside can be attributed to higher subscription revenues.

Subscription revenues (96.4% of total revenues) surged 43.6% year over year to $435.4 million. Professional services and other revenues (3.6% of total revenues) increased 32.7% year over year to $16.4 million.

While the company’s Q2 revenue was solid, leading indicators slipped and expectations for second half billings were lowered as Okta is facing some sales integration challenges with the recent Auth0 acquisition, with heightened attrition and some product confusion, to say nothing of a surprising sabbatical announcement from the COO.

And the implied growth of 19% from management projections is down from 27%.

OKTA shares got hit for 34% on September 1 after this report.

(end of October article excerpt)

What was so interesting after this quarter is how much the analysts retreated.

While 2022 EPS estimates naturally had to move higher on the big positive earnings surprise, there were upward revisions into 2023 too despite the company re-evaluating out-year targets.

In October, I noted that “Next year’s consensus leaped higher from a loss of 60-cents to a loss of only 31-cents. But analysts also downgraded the stock across the board on other factors.”

And what we saw was a herd of analysts lowering their estimates and growth expectations.

But now, after the most recent quarterly report, the spreadsheet jockeys are changing their tune…

Okta price target raised to $90 from $80 at Piper Sandler

Analyst Rob Owens continues to see multiple opportunities across his software universe, saying valuations appear “relatively de-risked and underlying trends prove resilient.” However, he believes there is still more bad news to come, especially on the economic front. As such, 2023 “potentially sets up as a stock picker’s year,” Owens tells investors in a research note. His top five ideas include Okta, Palo Alto, Crowdstrike, ServiceNow and CyberArk.

Okta price target raised to $80 from $72 at KeyBanc

Analyst Michael Turits raised the firm’s price target on Okta to $80 from $72 to reflect conversations with the channel and CIO respondents, and to reflect his updated outlook following survey response data. The analyst keeps an Overweight rating on the shares.

As you can see, the prospects for this key provider of “identity security” have rebounded considerably.

I will reiterate the same thing I wrote 3 months ago when I saw the value…

Bottom line on OKTA: With its unique market position, and buoyant topline growth of 28%, Okta should be a good long-term investment as it falls back to levels not seen since December of 2018.

What’s changed is that EPS estimates for this year have done a complete 180 — from projected losses of 32-cents to PROFITS of 31-cents!

This represents a 200%+ flip in profitability!

And this is derived from the topline climbing an unexpected leap above $2 billion, representing 16% growth.

New bottom line for OKTA: Shares look poised to breakout above $70-75 very soon. I would be on-board!

Bear of the Day:

Meritage Homes is a $3.5 billion home builder whose shares have risen strongly off of the bear market lows.

But the turn in optimism for home builders is shared among companies like KB Home and Lennar who are also in the cellar of the Zacks Rank at this time.

Meritage offers a variety of homes that are designed with a focus on entry-level and first move-up buyers. Operations span Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

Based in Scottsdale, AZ, Meritage Homes Corporation is one of the leading designers and builders of single-family homes. The company primarily engages in building and selling single-family homes for entry-level, first-time, move-up, luxury and active adult buyers in historically high-growth regions of the United States.

Earnings Outlook Turns South

While 2022 revenues saw a climb to nearly 22%, the sad irony for 2023 is that analyst projections for the topline in 2023 are expected to fall almost 23%.

The numbers don’t lie here as topline estimates drop from $6.2 billion for 2022 to $4.8B for 2023.

More importantly for the Zacks Rank metric, EPS estimates drop over 50% from $26 to $12 this year.

This could be merely a function of analyst caution about housing markets going forward into the new year.

But it may also revolve around the steep rise in inflation and interest rates — that could also cause a recession — that have pushed many new home buyers to the sidelines.

Be sure to follow my colleague Tracey Ryniec who tracks all the housing data every week. I just had a conversation with her on my Mind Over Money podcast where she shared a ton of great insight and resources.

Additional content:

Shell (SHEL) Makes Another Splash in the EV Charging Market

A unit of Shell plc has agreed to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) charging company Volta Inc., for $169 million in cash. The acquisition is another pointer to the growing trend among major energy companies toward investments in the EV infrastructure space as demand for such vehicles continues to grow.

Per the deal, the London-headquartered energy major will pay 86 cents for each of Volta’s outstanding class A common stock. At Volta’s Tuesday’s closing stock price of 72.70 cents, the transaction values the company’s shares at an 18% premium.

Volta, which went public in 2021, primarily sets up charging points in retail parking lots with high traffic (shopping malls, grocery stores etc.) and provides free electricity to EV drivers. The company operates 3,050 EV chargers in the United States and Europe, and gets paid in the form of ads displays on chargers. But of late, it has been struggling with lack of cash and has seen its share price languish below $1 in the past few months. So precarious is the state of cash that the buyout agreement with Shell entails loans to Volta to see it through the closure of the deal, expected by June 30.  

For Shell, the Volta deal is yet another step in its endeavor to diversify from oil and invest in green energy management. Europe’s largest oil company previously bought Greenlots — another company involved in EV charging and management —  in 2019 and ubitricity — U.K.’s largest EV charging network — in 2021.   

This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company, which consolidated its dual headquarters in London over The Hague and became a single UK entity last year, is slated to release fourth-quarter 2022 results on Feb 2. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for Shell’s to-be-reported quarter is a profit of $2.12 per share.

Key Energy Picks

Meanwhile, investors interested in the energy sector might look at operators like Murphy USA, which has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Murphy USA: Over the past 60 days, this El Dorado, AR-based Murphy USA has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 improve 4%. MUSA, which surpassed third-quarter bottom-line estimates by 18.7%, is valued at around $6.1 billion.

Murphy USA has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of roughly 51%, on average. MUSA has seen its shares gain 35.9% in a year.

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Zacks Names “Single Best Pick to Double”

From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all.

It’s a little-known chemical company that’s up 65% over last year, yet still dirt cheap. With unrelenting demand, soaring 2022 earnings estimates, and $1.5 billion for repurchasing shares, retail investors could jump in at any time.

This company could rival or surpass other recent Zacks’ Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.

Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report

Meritage Homes Corporation (MTH) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Murphy USA Inc. (MUSA) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Okta, Inc. (OKTA) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Volta Inc. (VLTA) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Shell PLC Unsponsored ADR (SHEL) : Free Stock Analysis Report

To read this article on Zacks.com click here.

Zacks Investment Research

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

ArchWell opens Sun City office

ArchWell Health opened an office in the community at 10050 W. Bell Road, Suite 35. Company and office staff, along with some residents, were on hand for a grand opening.

ArchWell Health’s goal is to provide seniors access to excellent health care and healthy living options, irrespective of their economic situation. The center establishes state-of-the-art neighborhood health care featuring an advanced, senior-focused care model. Focused on providing comprehensive primary care for seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, ArchWell Health empowers members to live healthier lives by offering them a higher level of care, a more positive experience and a focus on preventative options.

The Sun City center is one of 10 that opened in the Phoenix area in the last four months.

At ArchWell, the patient-to-doctor ratio is well below the national average, ensuring doctors have the time they need with each individual patient to solve their health challenges. Additionally, the doctors and care team are specifically trained to care for seniors who have more challenging health conditions than the general population, and a higher rate of chronic conditions. Patients at ArchWell Health will receive care that is well coordinated, as compared to the fragmented care that many seniors experience today.

“The health care needs of the senior population are often multi-faceted, so our goal is to establish long-term relationships to monitor and respond to the physical and emotional needs of our patients,” said Carl Whitmer, ArchWell Health co-founder and CEO. “At each ArchWell Health center, our primary care providers will be supported by social, nutritional and behavioral health services teams to ensure the care our patients may need; allowing our patients to achieve the best quality of life physically, mentally, and emotionally.”

Candidate Questionnaire: Stone | | ahwatukee.com

Age: 47

Current occupation: Policy Specialist

Community involvement: Former D6 Chief of Staff

Community involvement in Ahwatukee: Involved in supporting various citizens groups throughout Ahwatukee.

Education: Lewis & Clark College

Why are you running for City Council?

Phoenix is at a tipping point: we can either continue following current policies mirrored from other states – policies that have badly degraded our greatest coastal cities – or we can focus on developing and implementing truly local solutions to our biggest problems, including crime, roadway safety, homelessness, and housing. I’m running to fight for those local solutions and the opportunity to keep (and improve) the Phoenix we all know and love.

Why are you the best candidate for the District 6 Seat?

I’m a nerd. A wonk – the guy politicians keep in the back room writing position papers and exploring policy solutions. I’ve spent the better part of the last 5 years developing solutions for Phoenix – to address our homelessness crisis, improve roadway safety, better support our first responders, reduce the cost of housing, and more – that I believe will improve conditions for all our citizens.

What credentials/experience make you the best person for the council seat?

I served for almost 5 years as staff chief for Sal DiCiccio, and am deeply versed in all areas of city operations. More importantly, Ahwatukee needs someone unafraid to hold the council accountable. Regardless of the outcome of this race, Democrats will have a super-majority at City Hall. We don’t need another automatic vote for their agenda, we need someone to push back the worst ideas, find ways to make the rest work better – that’s what I will do.

What are the three city-wide issues you want to address in 2023?

Affordable housing, homelessness, and public safety are my top priorities. And while we won’t be able to “solve” issues that big in a year, we can make enormous progress with some simple changes to city code and ordinances – addressing homelessness by leading with services, reducing unnecessary time barriers and regulations that drive up the cost of new housing, and improving working conditions and benefits for police officers so that we can recruit the numbers we need.

What are the top three issues facing Ahwatukee specifically and how would you try to address them this year?

1) Roadway safety: perform traffic studies at 17th & Chandler, 17th & Liberty, and a few other intersections. Pursue roadway changes, improved lighting in those areas to reduce accidents. Hire more cops.

2) Add a Fire Station / Police Substation: on the West end of Ahwatukee using development and impact fees from the new construction going in there.

3) Homelessness: push to shift our approach to lead with services and improve treatment & recovery options to reduce our growing homeless population.

What two things is City Council doing right and why?

1) Water: as a state, Arizona is in a water crisis, but due to excellent planning and management, Phoenix has more than enough water available to support our growing population for 100+ years to come.

2) Parks & Recreation: Phoenix has done a magnificent job of managing, expanding, and improving our best-in-the-nation urban park system. I still think we need more pickleball courts, more fields, etc. – but the city has excelled in delivering service in these areas.

What two things is City Council doing wrong and why?

1) Planning & Development Services: simply put, the office is in crisis. It takes forever for even the simplest plan review or inspection. P&D is still remote working – we need them back in the building. And we need to immediately expand outside contracting of engineering services to clear the backlog the department is facing.

2) Homelessness: current approaches to homelessness have not achieved the intended results, and are enabling, not addressing chronic street homelessness. It is more humane to push people into treatment than it is to continue to ignore them on the street. We need to work with the state and county to significantly expand diversion and treatment services, provide controlled & structured camping or semi-permanent tent options for those who absolutely refuse treatment, then enforce a ban on urban camping citywide.

Has Phoenix done enough to address its public safety pension debt? If not, what do you think should be done to accelerate paying it off?

Phoenix missed a golden opportunity when the city received over $1.5 billion in two rounds of federal covid funding to use some of those monies to significantly reduce our unfunded pension obligations.

Every year for the next 22 years, the amount Phoenix is paying for those debts will rise, with serious impact on our ability to provide services our residents need. I would like to set a policy where every year that we have a surplus, we divide it in three: one-third for debt reduction, a third for one-time infrastructure investments, and one third which could be used for ongoing service expansions.

What three opportunities must the city take advantage of in 2023? How might Ahwatukee benefit from them?

1. Super Bowl – great opportunity for our local hotels, restaurants, and shops.

2. Homelessness – there is real movement for the first time in years to do something about a system that is spending a ton of money, without doing much to help people. We can turn that around this year.

3. One-time revenue from Taiwan Semi – Ahwatukee is too often forgotten by city leaders, and capital needs have accumulated. TSMC’s construction is going to generate hundreds of millions in one-time revenues. Some of those funds need to pay for improvements in Ahwatukee, too.

As a city council member, how would your office specifically try to help the Ahwatukee business community? Please be specific.

Expand ALEX Bus service – the Ahwatukee Local Express is a valuable service to businesses in the area whose workers need better options for public transportation, and should be expanded in both hours and frequency of service.

Two, as mentioned above, permitting in Phoenix has become a mess, and is costing business owners significant sums of money due to delays before they can open – we need to get that straightened out ASAP.

Three, make sure we have more first responders on duty in Ahwatukee to answer calls in a more-timely fashion at both homes and businesses, ensuring the safety of residents and employees alike.

What do you think you can do as a councilmember to get the city Parks & Rec department to complete Desert Foothills Park?

This is one of those situations where, frankly, you need someone willing to pitch a fit who won’t take “no” for an answer. I helped pickleball players last year get some multi-use improvements to the tennis courts at Desert Foothills, but the park is still a half-developed embarrassment, with far more room for amenities than we are making use of.

Years of polite requests have been ignored. I’m criticized sometimes as a disruptor – but this is a perfect example of when you need a disruptor, not another rubber stamp.

Pickleball fans in western Ahwatukee contend they are underserved. Is there something you as a councilmember can realistically do for them?

Pickleball is the fastest growing recreational sport in America. We need to add about a dozen new dedicated pickleball courts at Desert Foothills Park (and more throughout other parts of the city). The expense is minimal, the use is maximal, this is one of the best investments we can make in our flatland parks, and one I’ll be pushing for from day 1.

The 2023 GO bond issue allocated $50 million for arts and culture while deferring inclusion of a third fire station for far west Ahwatukee. Do you agree with that decision?

Not at all. Ahwatukee needs that station. Emergency response times in large parts of the community are far too high. It was an absolute travesty that the safety needs of Ahwatukee were once again brushed aside in favor of massive handouts to politically-favored insiders.

Do you think Ahwatukee need additional police patrols and if you do, given the department’s manpower situation and the city’s many fiscal challenges, how would you propose it be done?

Yes, absolutely we need more police patrols in Ahwatukee. In the last few years, but especially since the completion of the 202 South, crime has risen, drivers are out of control, and we don’t have enough cops on patrol to properly protect the community. All that said, anyone who tells you there is an easy or quick answer to this crisis is lying. We do not have enough officers to adequately support public safety anywhere in Phoenix. Fixing that will primarily depend on the actions and words of the city council over the next few years. The applicants we need simply will not be there unless this council demonstrates their consistent and clear support for our officers. My opponent is a former police officer, yes. But in 2020, he was quick to embrace the anti-police protest movement. I have never and will never waiver in my support for the Phoenix Police Department and hardworking men and women who wear the uniform.

How would you assess your relationship with the current members of City Council insofar as your ability to wrangle support for programs/support in District 6? Do you have a relationship with any and if so, who specifically?

Outside of the public view, my experience is that everyone at City Hall gets along fairly well. Carlos Garcia is a great guy; we just disagree about everything politically. Laura Pastor and her office I consider friends, especially Michael Petersen-Incorvaia, owner of the most spectacular shoe collection in the history of City Hall. Betty Guardado is a fierce fighter for her constituency, and we agree on far more than most people would realize. Jim Waring is someone I always enjoyed working with, and admire.

Housing affordability is a much discussed challenge facing the Valley in general and Phoenix in particular. This is. two-part question:

How would you assess what the city is currently doing to make housing available for working families?

Phoenix’s current approach to having enough low-income and workforce affordable housing largely amounts to grandstanding in pubic while privately praying someone else comes along and solves the issue for us. Worse, Phoenix’s labryrinthine bureaucracy and endless permitting delays are adding enormously to the cost of every unit of housing built in our city.

What would you advocate be done?

Make it cheaper, easier, and faster to build housing. Government subsidized low-income units currently cost Phoenix almost twice as much to build as it costs private developers to build luxury housing – over $350,000 per apartment – so we’re never going to have enough money for the city to solve the problem that way. We must make workforce affordable housing profitable for developers by eliminating the time delays and unnecessary regulatory requirements that are currently baked into our codes.

What city department needs closer scrutiny of its spending and spending decisions and why?

Arts & Culture – they’re good at buying overpriced crafts that my brother-in-law could knock out in a few hours with a C&C machine in his shop. We should at least get art for art money. But, realistically, all of them, because without Sal DiCiccio there, no one left on the council has shown much interest in focusing on finding efficiencies and holding departments accountable for bad spending choices. That’s a role I intend to fill.

Would you support water conservation measures that would impose use restrictions on households and businesses? What use restrictions would you specifically support and why?

Mandatory? None. Incentivized? Plenty. Phoenix residents have done a magnificent job of improving water conservation and reducing total use. Yes, there are still things we can do – for example, providing trees and shrubs for homeowners willing to tear out grass lawns and replace them with more appropriate native vegetation. But the number one incentive is that water is not cheap here, it will keep getting more expensive; businesses and homeowners alike recognize that, and are taking steps already to address their water use.

What would you do to strengthen the relationship between Ahwatukee’s HOAs and your office?

It’s critical for city leaders to recognize HOA boards are the elected representatives of their community, and my door will always be open to them. But this is a little complicated because, from a legal perspective, the city does not and cannot recognize HOAs: they constitute a private contract among individuals. I received numerous requests to have the city enforce HOA rules and requirements, or who wanted us to intervene in decisions coming in front of an HOA. That isn’t possible, or appropriate, and every time I’ve watched a councilmember insert themselves in inter-HOA issues, it ended up ticking everyone off.

Is there a need to strengthen the District 6 seat’s relationship with Ahwatukee HOAs?

My door is always open, my cell number can be given to anyone who wants it, and I’ve never turned down a meeting with a community leader. But, also, see my previous answer.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s kicks off education tour in Phoenix

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America will launch its 2023 Educating America Tour in Phoenix on Thursday, Feb. 16 with a free Alzheimer’s and Caregiving Educational Conference at the Ahwatukee Event Center, 4700 E. Warner Road in Phoenix.

The free conference, which begins at 10 a.m., is open to everyone and will allow participants to learn from experts in the field of Alzheimer’s disease, brain health, and caregiving, according to a press release. To register, go to www.alzfdn.org/tour.

“Knowledge is a useful and powerful tool that can help make any situation easier to navigate, especially something as challenging as caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s president and CEO. “Connecting families with useful, practical information and support that can help them now and be better prepared for the future is what this conference is all about. Whether Alzheimer’s is affecting your family, you are a caregiver or just want to learn more about brain health, we invite you to join us on Feb. 16.”

Sessions during the AFA conference will include:

• Preventing Alzheimer’s disease: From Cradle-to-Grave — There are many theories on ways to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. What is the best strategy? Jeremy Pruzin, MD, will provide a general overview of Alzheimer’s disease and discuss two important areas in prevention: modifiable risk factors such as lifestyle choices and vascular risk factors, and promising, presymptomatic, pharmacological strategies that are currently being tested in clinical trials.

• Aging in Place Along the Alzheimer’s Spectrum — Many older adults prefer to age in place and live in their own homes, however, every living situation should be determined by where they will get the best possible care. Is the caregiver able to alter their life to provide the support their loved one needs? Or are they better off in a dementia-care setting?

• What Happens Next? Best Practices in Palliative Dementia Care — Many families choose palliative care for their loved ones to optimize their quality of life and mitigate pain or discomfort as dementia-related illness reach the later stages of the disease progression. By assessing and treating the pain or discomfort they may be experiencing, palliative care provides an extra layer of support.

There will also be a special presentation, Highlights of a Baseball Reminiscence Program, an initiative designed to promote socialization and improve quality of life for individuals living with dementia and their caregivers, by the Phoenix-based Society for American Baseball Research.

Free, confidential memory screenings will be conducted throughout the day.

For more information or to register, go to www.alzfdn.org/tour.

Landscapes Unlimited completes projects at Desert Mountain Club

(LINCOLN, Neb.) – Golf course developer and construction company Landscapes Unlimited has completed enhancement projects at two golf courses at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Closely collaborating with Nicklaus Design, Marvin Mills Irrigation Consulting and Desert Mountain’s agronomic team, Landscapes Unlimited’s work at the Renegade course included construction of a new driving range to accommodate a new clubhouse build; re-surface and re-seed of fairways and tees from bent grass to rye; and several changes to the first hole.  The company also expanded and enhanced the driving range tee area at the Apache course.

“Desert Mountain boasts and iconic collection of golf courses and associated amenities,” says Dave Linngren, Vice President-West Region of Landscapes Unlimited.  “Our ability to help deliver extraordinary experiences to its members and their guests is our focus.”

“Landscapes Unlimited is terrific to work with,” says Todd Bohn, Director of Agronomy at Desert Mountain.  “Its team deeply cares about a streamlined process and terrific outcomes, and we can count on Landscapes to come in on time and on budget.”

Perched 2,400 to 4,500 feet above the picturesque Sonoran Desert of North Scottsdale, Desert Mountain ranks among the nation’s finest private golf and recreational communities.  It is the only private community worldwide with six Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses accompanied by No. 7, an 18-hole, par-54 course designed by Bill Brownlee and Wendell Pickett.

Across 8,300 acres, Desert Mountain is home to a newly remodeled spa; tennis on three surfaces; pickleball; 11 restaurants and grills; 25 miles of private hiking trails, mountain biking and more than 40 social clubs.  Homes are selling at Seven Desert Mountain, the community’s newest luxury residential enclave.

More information:  www.desertmountain.com, 480.595.4110.

Landscapes Unlimited -- Logo.jpg

About Landscapes Unlimited
Forty-six years young and family owned and operated, Landscapes Unlimited is the recognized leader in golf course development, construction and renovation.  Its regional experts leverage contemporary best practices, fiscal prudency and a culture promoting unwavering success. Projects include famous courses and revered local layouts of various shapes, sizes and budgets. Landscapes Unlimited also excels at building sports fields for professional teams, colleges and municipalities. Sister company Landscapes Golf Management boasts a portfolio of 55-plus golf courses, country clubs and resorts nationwide.

More information:  www.landscapesunlimited.com, 402.423.6653.

CONTACT: Rich Katz rkatz@katzstrategy.com 703.283.4852

Maricopa County needs new constable for South Phoenix area


The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is looking for applicants to replace Agua Fria Justice Precinct Constable Doug Clark.

Clark resigned, and his position opened on Dec. 31, according to the county.

Constables execute, serve and return processes, warrants and notices, and they attend justice courts when required, county officials stated in a release.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is responsible for filling the position and, by law, the appointee must be a Democrat, like Clark, live in the Agua Fria Precinct and be a registered Arizona voter. The appointee will fill the position until a special election in 2024.

For more: the full precinct boundaries here.

Applicants should send their letters of interest along with a resume to the Office of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, 301 W. Jefferson, 10th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85003 or email it to ClerkBoard@maricopa.gov.  Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.

All documents, including applications filed with the clerk’s office will become public records. Applicants are subject to a background check.