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CUSD prepares for student surge amid Coolidge housing boom
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COOLIDGE — After the city shared with the Coolidge Unified School District current housing trends, which could spike student enrollment, the school board was told of options to handle the increase.

City Manager Rick Miller said city and school district staff met to discuss what subdivisions are currently seeing housing activity and the ones expected to see some activity if the current rate of home construction continues.

“We believe the city could issue 600 new single-family home permits before the end of this year — that does not include any apartment construction,” he said.

The first phase of the Casa Blanca apartment complex is expected to be completed in the first few months of 2022.

He said several factors can influence homebuilding, but the city currently is not seeing any slowdown, and he believes just as many or more home permits will be issued in 2022.

CUSD Superintendent Dawn Dee Hodge told the school board Wednesday night that the district currently has enough space to handle another estimated 250 elementary students.

“They are probably going to come,” Hodge said of more students enrolling. How many students would be speculative.

The district is looking into moving the Coolidge Junior High School back to its original campus, though renovations would need to take place at the old campus on Ninth Street.

She said the CJHS staff is excited about the possibility of returning to their old school building.

“They believe they can build a positive culture,” she said.

The Coolidge Alternative Program, with its current enrollment of 189 students, would move to the vacant intermediate school building on Arizona Boulevard.

Hodge said moving the schools would give the district the space to accommodate another 900 to 1,000 students from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Hodge told the board she will be bringing this topic back at the December meeting.

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Restaurant, store, gas station proposed for Eleven Mile Corner
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COOLIDGE — The Coolidge City Council on Monday night took action to bring commercial services to Eleven Mile Corner by approving an infrastructure and services plan for the Conway II annexation.

The parcel is on the southwest corner of Eleven Mile Corner Road and State Route 287 near a closed cotton gin.

The city already contains three of the four corners of the intersection. It is a rural area that traditionally has been a midpoint between Coolidge, Casa Grande and Eloy.

“We don’t have a partner to the east, but we are working on it,” said Economic Services Director Gilbert Lopez.

Kyle Barichello, project manager for RVI Planning, said the land was being rezoned from agricultural for a planned development.

“This allows us to work with them,” Lopez said. He said the name of the development would come later.

The 10-acre site runs north and south.

The initial idea is to have a gas station, a 3,000-square-foot convenience store, a “smokehouse” restaurant and a 3,850-square-foot common area.

Barichello said the old gin, which is in bad condition, is part of the development with some renovations.

“It will bring the building to life,” Barichello said.

Courtesy of Nancy Caywood 

Cotton stands in a field in front of the gin.

For the city of Coolidge, he said, this is a prime location with two major roads running through it, within 3 miles of State Route 87.

Barichello said the quotes and estimates came in higher than expected, though he is hopeful the site plan will be approved in December.

“By the end of next year it could be open,” he said.

Vice Mayor Steve Hudson said the city has most of the fast food outlets and pizza restaurants, but what is needed for the community is a steakhouse.

Lopez after the meeting concurred with Hudson on the need for a steakhouse in the city.

Lopez said that since the council approved the infrastructure and service plan and zoning classification, it will allow working with subcontractors.

Mayor Jon Thompson said there had been a lot of concern about the zoning for this property.

“It looks like quite a project,” Thompson said.

Burger King plans not yet approved for Coolidge
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COOLIDGE — Residents wanting their fast food done their way in Coolidge will have to wait a little bit longer.

The proposed Burger King, which is to be located in the Safeway parking lot on Arizona Boulevard, has been talked about for more than a year.

City Manager Rick Miller could not give an estimate on when the restaurant could be ready to open but is optimistic that everything would be approved.

One reason for the wait is the city is still waiting on acceptable plans from the architect. The architect had submitted two previous plans, but the city asked for corrections to both.

The city is now waiting for the third version from the architect but has yet to receive it.

The architect Tuesday morning said he is in the process of completing the plans for another review.

Economic Development Services Director Gilbert Lopez said it is not uncommon for site plans not to be approved with the first review.

Miller also said the location had a few problems with gas lines and other utilities that had to be addressed.

At a Coolidge Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in May, the project manager said the owner was hoping to break ground on the project by the end of the year with an opening date being in early 2022.

The site on the north end of town, across from Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, is currently empty. According to Coolidge’s GIS coordinator, Tim Hansen, the proposed Burger King will have a double drive-thru and the restaurant itself is to be a 3,200-square-foot model.

Repeated messages left with Burger King officials were not returned.

Miller said the city has no reason to believe Burger King is not coming to Coolidge, as the building plans are still being processed. He also said the staff has been working primarily with the architectural firm that submitted the plans.

Mayor Jon Thompson said the last thing he heard is that Burger King still planned to build and open in Coolidge.

Miller said he remains optimistic that Burger King will be coming to Coolidge, but would not speculate on when that could be.

“I don’t know when that will be. The ball is in their court,” he said.