Copper Sky map

The vacant land between Copper Sky Regional Park and State Route 347 could be developed soon. State Route 347 is the road on the far left of this map.

MARICOPA — There has been a stigma in Maricopa for years that the community doesn’t want apartment buildings.

Some will argue that with apartments come higher crime and lower property values along with other issues.

But the city is looking to change that and will soon add multifamily housing as part a development planned near Copper Sky Regional Park.

“At the end of the day we are looking for quality developments and something that adds to the quality of life and a home for our young police officers, our young schoolteachers — young individuals who are starting families,” Denyse Airheart, Maricopa economic development director, said following her presentation to council members during Tuesday’s meeting.

“We have a large, beautiful Central Arizona College campus and in order for them to add more students, we need affordable housing,” she said. “In order for us to bring jobs, we need affordable housing. Not to say that what we have here isn’t affordable, it’s just different than multifamily housing.”

In July, the council heard a report about the housing needs in the city. In the report, it was revealed that a disconnect exists between what the community needs and what the city offers — where a household needs up to $50,000 in order to live in the city, but many workers don’t make that.

The report also added that buying a home in Maricopa is affordable — 20 percent less then the regional average — but renting is not affordable, at 30 percent higher than the regional average.

“I think that really helped shape better conversations not only with the council but with residents,” Airheart said of the report’s findings.

The development will consist of two phases. Phase I will include a hotel and 320 units of multifamily housing units along with 16,000 square feet of retail space.

The hotel that Airheart announced to council members on Tuesday will be a La Quinta. It will consist of a four-story building with 89 rooms and cost $10 million to build. The hotel will bring in 20 new jobs, $390,000 annual payroll, $73,000 annual property tax, $63,000 annual bed tax and $63,000 annual sales tax. It is expected to be operational by 2020.

The second part of the development will include 300-plus multifamily housing units, along with an assisted living facility.

The assisted living facility that will be managed by MorningStar is expected to require between $30 million and $35 million in private investment with 172 units, including 82 independent, 56 for assisted living and 34 for memory care. The facility is expected to bring in 225 new jobs to the city.

Overall, the development is expected to bring $100 million in private investment, 620 multifamily housing units, 53,000 square feet of retail and 150 new jobs.

“This is a great new change for Maricopa on the horizon,” Mayor Christian Price said following Airheart’s council presentation.

The city has partnered with Commercial Properties Inc. and Shea Connelly Development on the project. The developers did a similar project in Fountain Hills called Park Place, which included $44 million in private investment, 230 multifamily housing units and 32,000 square feet of retail space.

“This is not a bad product,” Airheart said. “This is the same product that is in Fountain Hills and if you look at their medium income and their property values, we are getting the same project.”

The project is also a sign of the times for Maricopa, where the city is no longer a sleepy bedroom community with a large percentage of its residents commuting daily to the Phoenix metro area. Instead it’s becoming more diversified and will be able to continue to grow when the next housing-market crash occurs.

“I think it’s the evolution of the city,” Airheart said. “We met with a developer that said to us that growth in communities happens in thirds. So the product here was a starter home. With a starter home you just have homes and the next third you start to get amenities and the next third is when you start to get your quality of life, that sense of place. That’s where Maricopa is today.”