Last month, I had the honor of being appointed to represent the residents of District 3. I have lived in Surprise for eight years with the last two years in District 3. I was appointed to the Surprise Municipal Property Corporation Board earlier this year and through my city service, I have been part of numerous Community and Recreation Services events. I have lived in Arizona most of my life and I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Arizona State University. Go Sun Devils! I look forward to meeting you and serving you in this capacity. Together, we have a mutual passion for this city and a desire to see it succeed!
I hosted my first D3 quarterly meeting on Tuesday, October 24, at the Sierra Montana Recreation Center. For those of you who were able to attend, thank you! For those of you who were unable to attend, I wanted to be sure you received the same update.
Economic Development Update
It’s a fact that Surprise is one of the safest cities, but did you know it is one of the fastest-growing as well? Residential growth aside – the City of Surprise has also been growing jobs and services! More than a million square feet each year of non-residential – including retail, commercial, industrial, medical, education – buildings have been constructed in Surprise each year for three years in a row.
For a relatively young, new community, Surprise has come a long way – from a population of only 7,122 in 1990 to 132,677 today (Source: US Census). Much has been accomplished in recent years, and many more opportunities are ahead for us.
This year, Surprise officially transitioned from a bedroom community to a university town with the February 2017 announcement of the new residential campus of Ottawa University, located at Surprise City Center next to City Hall! Their first class welcomed 434 enrolled new students, many of which are involved in the 21 intercollegiate athletic teams on the new campus. The new athletic field has been constructed, and their first phase of construction on an initial 13 acres of land is in progress. The school plans to grow to more than 3,000 students over the next 10 years.
Shop Local Campaign Kicked Off!
In September 2017, Surprise City Council approved a pilot program with the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce to deploy a citywide “Shop Local” program based upon the best practices of the 2016 award-winning “Shop Bell and Grand” digital marketing campaign. Starting next month, those who opt into the citywide program by texting the word “ShopSurprise” to 85100 will receive digital discounts for restaurants, services and products throughout the City of Surprise. The program will launch in time for the holiday shopping season.
AZ TechCelerator – Tech the Halls
Mark your calendars from 5 -7 PM on December 7th, when the City of Surprise business incubator, the AZ TechCelerator, located at 12425 West Bell Road, celebrates its second annual “Tech the Halls” event! Meet the innovators growing their businesses, play games, enter to win ‘tech’ raffle prizes – and check out the space that offers entrepreneurs in Surprise a place to grow their dreams.
The AZ TechCelerator has assisted the direct creation of more than 250 tech jobs, 32 new businesses, and two of the most successful incubator graduates in Arizona. Flagship telemedicine startup MD24 House Call graduated into 15,000 square feet of office space in Surprise and employs more than 150 people. Additionally, the first AZ TechCelerator tenant, Athena Wireless, was acquired by Google; Athena’s founder is now mentoring a second venture at the AZ TechCelerator called Me On A Bike.
New awards for global excellence in Economic Development
The Surprise Economic Development team won three international awards on September 19 at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) conference in Toronto – and the following week was recognized by the Global Chamber of Phoenix as the “Global Business City of the Year!”
The IEDC awards recognized Surprise, in the population category of 25,000-200,000, for the following:
- Silver Award for Partnerships with Educational Institutions – Ottawa University
- Bronze Award for Entrepreneurship – AZ TechCelerator
- Bronze Award for Business Retention & Expansion (Single Event) – City of Surprise Bridge-to-Business Program / Bell & Grand Campaign
The Global Chamber of Phoenix awarded Surprise the Global Business City of the Year distinction this year because of the city’s international economic development strategy in place to attract companies, in addition to wins to the city like Ottawa University, IRIS USA, and Rioglass Solar.
- Medical project growth is on the rise in Surprise! Just as Mainstreet Rapid Recovery Center cut the ribbon and opened their doors to their new 100-bed facility this month, Destiny Springs Behavioral Health Hospital began construction on its new $25 million facility near Dysart Road, north of Bell Road, not far from the new Cobalt Medical Rehabilitation Hospital. Additionally, the new Banner medical building located at Statler and Litchfield Road is almost fully leased.
- Advanced Manufacturing Growth: At the Southwest Rail Plex, where four companies call Surprise their headquarters, Milam Glass is nearing completion of their 22,000 square foot office/warehouse building, which broke ground in May of this year. While the Surprise Economic Development Department actively markets the rail-shovel-ready land sites remaining in the advanced manufacturing park for new ground-up operations, four buildings of new speculative industrial space totaling almost 200,000 square feet are currently under construction for those businesses looking for existing space.
- Retail is booming:
- Now Open: Popeyes Louisiana Chicken, Wendy’s, Pure Physique PilateZ, Dysart Mini Storage, Subaru Superstore of Surprise Dealership (our 9th auto dealer!), Salad & Go, 3 Minute Car Wash, Indulge Froyo, PT Noodles, Boba Craze
- Coming Soon: At City Center on Bell Road, watch for In-N-Out Burger (the City’s #1 most-requested Surprise restaurant!), in addition to Tokyo Joe’s, Starbucks, Menchie’s, Piology, Raising Canes; at the Stadium a new Hilton Garden Inn has submitted plans for construction. At the Bell Road/303 area, a Cornerstone Car Wash, and restaurants Hayashi and Sonic. Also check out Surprise Comics at Cactus Road and Reems as well as Scooter’s Coffee, which is under construction on Bell Road east of Grand Avenue.
- The Surprise Most Wanted: The Surprise Economic Development Department continues to pursue all most-wanted retailers voted as most desired by the residents of Surprise – including Costco and Hobby Lobby! Additionally, the team in Surprise announced on October 23rd that it had submitted a proposal along with a video to attract the most-wanted-employment-project-in-North America, the new $5 billion Amazon second headquarters project.
Surprise as one of the Safest Cities: https://www.alarms.org/the-safest-cities-in-arizona-2017/
Fastest growing city: https://wallethub.com/edu/fastest-growing-cities/7010/
Community Development Update
Community Development Director Eric Fitzer provided attendees of my meeting with an update. You will begin to see even more development in our district. It’s an exciting time to live in D3!
The Prasada Toll Brothers development preliminary plat just completed second review and the Minor PAD Amendment is in review. This project consists of 792 acres in 10 phases with a total of 2,350 lots. Phase 1 will consist of 459 lots. This development, planned in the Prasada area along the 303, is set up to accommodate a Master Plat and subsequent lotting plats as the market dictates.
Carsense Automotive, a pre-owned auto dealership is in concept review. Once approved, it will be located on the vacant lot adjacent to Toyota.
Another preliminary plat located at 175th & Sweetwater is in rezone review with the city. The preliminary plat includes 44 single-family lots on 10 acres.
Heritage Farm, a development at the southeast corner of 175th & Waddell, is under review. This development will require a zone change. It includes 137 lots on 33 acres.
We have a development in review that is located at the northwest corner of Cotton & Sweetwater – North side of Sweetwater from Cotton to 175th. This development will include 240 lots on 63 acres.
Highland Prep Academy, which is located at the northwest corner of Reems & Hearn has completed its first phase of construction. Their second phase is under review.
The Zanjero Trails development, located in the southwest corner of Peoria Avenue, east of Perryville Road continues to move forward. Several parcels have been platted in the vicinity of the Shadow Ridge High School on Peoria Avenue. Builders such as Beazer, Woodside, and Meritage Homes have model home complexes in operation and several under review. In addition, south of Cactus, several parcels are under review for final plat. Richmond American Homes is in for review for home product and model home complex.
Sierra Montana Crossings located at the southwest corner of Greenway Rd and Cotton Lane is coming along. This commercial center has three (3) projects:
- Sonic Drive Thru (currently seeking certificate of occupancy)
- Shell building with drive thru (currently under design review)
- Shell building (had concept review, awaiting submittal)
Acoma Court development is located at the northeast corner of Acoma Drive and 159th Avenue. The home product and model home complex are being reviewed on this infill residential development.
Greer Ranch, located east of Sarival Avenue and south of Cactus Road, continues to expand. Taylor Morrison and Richmond American Homes are in for review for home product and model home complex.
Retreat at Sycamore Farms, located west of 165th Drive and South of Cholla Street, has a model home complex open by Richmond American Homes.
Currently the city is developing the Walking and Biking Map for each individual Dysart Unified School District (DUSD) school which includes Sonoran Heights and Sunset Elementary. This project will also combine all the maps into a citywide walking and biking map that can be utilized online or printed.
Below you will find the Safe Routes To Schools (SRTS) grants for Sonoran Heights and Sunset Elementary schools. We will begin encouragement efforts and the SRTS study for Sonoran Heights early next year. The Sunset Elementary efforts will begin in January 2020. Each plan will work with the individual school and include participation of parents, students and DUSD staff.
|2018||SUR18-701||Kingswood, West Point, and Sonoran Heights Elementary||SRTS Support Activity Project||$15,677||$948||$16,625|
|2018||SUR18-703||Kingswood, West Point, and Sonoran Heights Elementary||Safe Routes to School Studies||$73,000||$4,413||$77,413|
|2019||SUR19-702||Kingswood, West Point, and Sonoran Heights Elementary||SRTS Support Activity Project||$21,740||$1,314||$23,054|
|2020||SUR20-703||Kingswood, West Point, and Sonoran Heights Elementary||SRTS Support Activity Project||$27,811||$1,681||$29,492|
|2019||SUR19-705||Canyon Ridge, Cimarron Springs, Sunset Hills, and Western Peaks Elementary||Safe Routes to School Studies||$94,300||$5,700||$100,000|
Surprise Arts and Culture Master Plan Update
The city is at a crossroads when looking at the growth and presence of visual art and cultural events and how they will influence our city’s future. The community is invited to help shape the city’s first Surprise Arts & Culture Master Plan. The plan will provide strategic direction for arts and culture in Surprise including topics from public art to performing arts, festivals, and music.
All residents are invited to take our online survey, which helps focus and clarify the public input for the Plan. The survey can be found at http://www.surpriseartsplan.com/ and it closes October 31.
The next formal community outreach will begin in January when the first public draft will be distributed and discussed.
Public Works Update
Pavement preservation in District 3 and around the city continues, with Spring Lane, Verde Vista Drive, and Acoma Drive within the Sierra Montaña neighborhood scheduled for resurfacing in the next few months. Almost every road in the Sarah Ann Ranch neighborhood is scheduled for treatment next fall (2018).
All of the traffic signals on Bell Road are undergoing a hardware upgrade as part of a multi-agency Adaptive Signal Technology project that will allow greater synchronization and optimization of traffic flow on Bell Road between the western city limits of Surprise all the way east to Scottsdale.
The Bullard Avenue Traffic and Pedestrian Safety project is scheduled to begin construction in May 2018. This project will resurface the entire roadway between Greenway Road and Peoria Avenue; add a second vehicle lane in each direction; install a landscaped median between Greenway and Waddell roads; modify the existing median between Sweetwater Avenue and Cholla Street; install a buffered bike lane in both directions between Greenway Road and Peoria Avenue; and install full traffic signals at the Acoma Drive and Sweetwater Avenue intersections. Less than 6% of the total costs of this project will be paid with local tax dollars.
Staff and I are often asked, “Why wasn’t the section of Waddell Road, between 175th Avenue and Cotton Lane, included in the proposed Waddell Road traffic congestion mitigation project being considered by voters in the November 7th bond election?” Here is the answer:
Candidly, the proposed traffic congestion mitigation projects in the bond election issue do not resolve all of the necessary transportation improvements in the City of Surprise. In preparing the bond proposal, City Council and city staff gave careful consideration to the priority needs, the project costs and the impacts this secondary property tax would have on residents, if passed.
The section of Waddell Road (175th Avenue to Cotton Lane) is clearly a gap in the city’s transportation network. It is incomplete with multiple lanes being forced to merge into a single lane, it’s missing sidewalks, street lights, stormwater mitigation, and other design features included in a complete street. However, the bigger need currently is the section of Waddell Road between Cotton Lane and State Route 303. It has been fully-built out and traffic counts are approximately 35% greater in this section than in the section between 175th Avenue and Cotton Lane.
Human Service & Community Vitality Update
Neighborhood Grant Program Application Now Available
The Surprise City Council approved funding to support the Neighborhood Grant Program that provides eligible neighborhoods with small grants to fund neighborhood events, functions or even some community improvements. Recognizing an opportunity to encourage community engagement and further build strong relationships with communities in Surprise, the city designated $10,000 to support the grant program for FY18.
To be considered, projects must meet the following program criteria:
- Provide a public benefit
- Result in a product, which benefits a neighborhood or the larger Surprise Community
- Be feasible for completion by June 2018
- Involve the benefiting neighborhood in project identification, planning and execution
- Emphasize neighborhood self-help; or be educational, community-building, or a public physical improvement
- Final report due and presentation to the Sub-Committee on Community Outreach, Partnerships and Grants on June 13, 2018
Additionally, a minimum of five neighbors within the residential area must sign the application and support the idea. Neighborhoods governed by a homeowners association (HOA) must have HOA approval.
Interested communities should deliver the complete Neighborhood Grant Program application to City Hall, attention Jodi Tas, by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 10. For more information about the grant, visit Neighborhood Grant Program or contact Jodi Tas, 623.222.1330.
Decide Surprise GO Bond
On Tuesday, November 7, Surprise residents will consider three separate General Obligation Bond questions to fund 10 capital improvement projects in the areas of Public Safety, Traffic Congestion Mitigation and Pavement Preservation. You can see what the projects would look like, and what needs they would address, in three new videos that cover each of the bond questions. The videos are available on the Decide Surprise website at www.surpriseaz.gov/decidesurprise. Also on the Decide Surprise website, find information on the projects and the associated costs.
If any of the bond questions are approved by voters in November, the cost to residents would be administered via a secondary property tax. Currently, Surprise does not have a secondary property tax.
If you prefer to drop your ballot off, rather than mail it, ballot drop-off is available at Surprise City Hall – City Clerk’s Office now through Election Day! If you lost your ballot, replacement voting begins Saturday, October 28 through Election Day, Tuesday, November 7.
The Clerk’s Office will be open for ballot-drop off or replacement voting 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., all week, including weekends, and offer extended hours on Election Day, Nov. 7, of 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Again, I look forward to serving you. Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623.222.1323. Additionally, you can connect with me on Twitter at @Surprise_D3 and Facebook at www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100022175423875.