This article was written by Jodie Newell and was originally published in the Casa Grande Dispatch. The original article can be found here.
CASA GRANDE — With many cities and towns in Arizona struggling to meet demand for housing, Casa Grande has not been immune from the shortage of affordable dwellings.
In trying to stem that shortage, the city has been proactive at a planning level to encourage new housing developments. In the past 12 months the Casa Grande Planning and Zoning Commission has been a hive of activity with developers seeking approval for many projects.
At Thursday’s commission meeting, Planning and Development Director Paul Tice reported on the city’s recent building permit activity and advised commissioners that “your agendas are going to continue to be lengthy for the foreseeable future.” He cited 224 single-family home permits, 295 build-to-rent homes and 700 apartment unit permits issued already during the current calendar year.
Examples of the housing growth are clearly visible in a number of busy areas in Casa Grande. Steady building activity can be seen on Cottonwood Lane at Trekell Road as well as Peart Road and with an apartment complex at Trekell and Kortsen roads.
A build-to-rent community that is aimed at addressing the housing shortage and affordability issue is the Canopy at Cottonwood neighborhood on roughly 35 acres and featuring 331 units near Cottonwood and Trekell. Two-thirds of those properties are single-story, two-bedroom stand-alone houses with the remaining housing comprised of one-bedroom dwellings and some two-story.
On Thursday, President Greg Hancock of Hancock Builders, project owner Eric Graham of Seattle-based Blueprint Capital and Kaycee Kisling, managing director of multifamily investments at Mark-Taylor Residential, provided a walk-around tour for Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland.
Graham told PinalCentral that the Casa Grande location had stood out to his company as a desirable place to build. He said his company’s decision was based on the rate of growth of big-name companies moving into the area such as Lucid Motors, Kohler and a swath of silicon chip-related industries.
“It’s (Casa Grande) got a robust economic environment, especially with Lucid and Kohler and just the amount of activity that the city is generating and obviously that’s going to attract more population,” said Graham.
“We know that there’s a shortage of housing. What we found especially in Arizona and Phoenix in particular is the rising home prices have forced a lot of people that aren’t able to purchase a home to look for rentals. There’s a shortage of rentals here in Casa Grande, so what we’re trying to do is produce rental housing that’s closer to a single-family experience but at a much lower price point than having to go and build.”
The majority of houses at Canopy at Cottonwood are all single level and are either single-bedroom duplexes or stand-alone two-bedroom dwellings.
Graham said one of the key selling points of the projects is 14-foot-deep backyards and that all single-level rental homes would feature attached garages.
“This is different than a traditional apartment building where there’s shared entrances, where your door is right next to your neighbor. These have separate entrances and they live very much like a single-family home. They have fenced yards, 14-foot yards, enclosed patio area, dog doors and surrounding amenities such as a pool, sauna, barbecue area, pickleball courts and pocket parks.
“We’re trying to create a real community here, not just a living space,” said Graham.
McFarland told PinalCentral that with the influx of workers to the new businesses setting up around town, he and the City Council wanted to ensure those workers would be able to live in Casa Grande and that developments like Canopy at Cottonwood would meet that need.
“What I’m hearing is that people are living in Marana and commuting here,” said McFarland. “We want them to live here and we don’t have enough housing and so with this type of product coming into town, we’re hoping to pull those people here to Casa Grande.
“Right now there isn’t enough product, there isn’t enough housing for them to live here. With more housing, we’ll get people to actually live here.”
Graham said he’s expecting the first tenants to move into Canopy at Cottonwood in fall of this year.