MARICOPA — New housing developments in Maricopa are one step closer with the finalization of a housing needs plan.

At the City Council meeting Tuesday, a presentation was given on the plan. It is the second part — the implementation part — of a housing study conducted in Maricopa.

The city previously finished the housing needs assessment in February 2017. The assessment was a series of information-gathering techniques, which included an online survey, focus groups, a workshop and stakeholder interviews.

The assessment identified a disconnect in what the community’s needs are and what Maricopa offers. For example, a household needs approximately $50,000 a year to live in Maricopa, but many workers do not make that much.

It also determined that buying homes in Maricopa is relatively affordable — 20 percent less than the regional average. But renting is not affordable — 30 percent higher than the regional average.

Even if cost were not an issue, there is a lack of availability for people seeking to rent. More than 99 percent of homes in Maricopa are single-family homes. Although some of those are available to rent, there are no apartments, condos, townhomes or assisted living facilities. This creates difficulties for single people, young professionals and the elderly.

So what does the city do with that information? Enter the housing needs plan.

The plan started off by identifying key goals for future housing developments in Maricopa. Some of those goals included being well-designed, supporting lifelong residents, creating a “sense of place” by encouraging walkability and being close to jobs, shopping and other amenities, and retaining its “small-town feel” through balanced, sustainable growth.

“I’m pretty excited about where we’ve come from,” said Rebecca Rothenberg of Atria Planning, who has overseen the process. “We have a really good starting point.”

Some of the concepts that came out of those goals were housing units like casitas and small complexes, “granny flats,” live-work spaces, modular student housing and apartments.

To help garner ideas, the city hosted a design charrette in March. This was an opportunity for community members to work with designers to discuss the look and feel they wanted future Maricopa to have. The designers took those ideas and created a concept design.

In addition to housing, this concept would include a performing arts center, walking and biking paths and various shops and restaurants.

Based off this design came the plan for Phase 1. This phase would be located outside of the area’s floodplain and would hold 500 to 800 homes. It would also include 130,00 square feet of retail and 65,000 square feet of commercial space.

“This started off as a housing plan, but ultimately we’re developing a village center,” Rothenberg said.

Rothenberg said the city would now work with a master planner or developer to move the process along. She said it usually takes about six to nine months for a developer to come up with a clear plan, and from there, the first development usually occurs about 18 months later.

Council members listened to the presentation Tuesday but took no action. They are scheduled to vote on the plan at next month’s regular meeting.

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