If you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.
Jan 1, 2015, 12:07pm MST UPDATED: Jan 2, 2015, 6:56am MST
Eric Jay Toll Reporter- Phoenix Business Journal
It isn’t often that a reporter is able to play fortune teller. There’s good reason for that. 50 weeks from today, I’ll have the privilege of looking back on my prognostications and scoring my fortune-telling skills. As a hint, I’d suggest that you not head to Vegas with any of these looking for good odds on any of these.
- Too much development on Tempe Town Lake.We’re talking 2015 predictions, but I’m with my colleague, Mike Sunnucks, on this one. With 20 million square feet proposed over the next 20 years, there is no way that 1 million more square feet of office is going to be developed on the shores of Tempe Town Lake. The multitude of projects are not going to come out of the ground as planned. My vote is with the Arizona State University Athletic Facilities District progressing through its planning stage. In fact, having talked with Catellus and planner MVE + Partners about the project, I believe we will see the plan to develop the 10 million square feet on ASU land. My prediction: Liberty Property Trust will put up another building at Liberty Center at Rio Salado (Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway) and Douglas Wilson Cos’ Mill+Rio project at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway will break ground. I’d even consider this a win if the groundbreaking is in the first quarter of 2016.
- The Legislature will tarnish Arizona’s brand once again.With the increased tea party majority at the state Capitol and an unwillingness to recognize that there is a world on the other side of the Colorado River and White Mountains, I predict several bills will be introduced that are Arizona job-killers. There’s already talk of a repurposed Senate Bill 1062 making its way through the Arizona Legislative Council. These types of bills, while they may pander to various political persuasions, make Arizona look bad in the eyes of businesses embracing diversity in workforces. My prediction: At least five legislative opportunities to embarrass the state.
- Education will get the short shrift.With a $500 million shortfall on the balance sheet for the current fiscal year, and a $1 billion shortage next year, the Legislature will cut school spending by the amount the court has ordered it to pay in illegally cut education financial support. The governor’s office will continue useless appeals and litigation at taxpayer expense to delay the inevitable. No leadership will come from the Superintendent of Public Instruction, who will be honoring her campaign promises to stop public education advancement. My prediction: Arizona schools will shine again showing that they can succeed despite the best efforts of lawmakers to kill public education.
- Apple Mesa facility to come back online.This one gets me strange looks, but the 1 million-square-foot former GT Advanced Technologies (OTC: GTAT) sapphire glass facility in Mesa will either be proven to have been built on the back of a dragon or its feng shui will be fixed. My prediction: Apple will announce that it’s going to do something economically productive with the space.
Banking and Finance
- Look for more mergers and consolidations in 2015.OK, I’d take this one to Vegas because the real source of my prediction is Arizona Bankers Association Paul Hickman. He told me that the Dodd-Frank regulations are going to trickle down to community banks. Implementation of those regulations are going to onerous and expensive for small banks. Although there are companies that help small banks with the regulations, the requirements are mighty pricey. As a bonus: Small bank executives are going to ask Congress for relief in proving adequate capital reserves under expensive new rules when the results are obvious under the less complex current regulations.
- Downsizing retail bank space.My prediction: Look for banks to put more commercial bankers on the streets with mobile equipment to meet with customers as opposed to sitting in mostly vacant retail space waiting for customers to come through the door.
- The Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway will break ground.It’s only three decades in the making. The last piece of freeway connection from Interstate 10 at around 56th Avenue to the Loop 202 and I-10 interchange in Chandler will clear environmental litigation and be ready to go. My prediction: A design-build-maintain contract will be awarded and the project will break ground before year’s end.
- Funding will come through for the next light rail extension.Phoenix is pushing three extensions, Gilbert and Mesa want one, Scottsdale is still living with the last century’s transit plans, while Tempe keeps scoring along the light rail line. Funding will come through to start building the next extension of the Metro system. My prediction: The Phoenix West extension will get the first bucket of new dollars. It’s time to extend light rail into the heart of the heaviest potential users west of downtown Phoenix.
Eric covers economic development, banking and finance, infrastructure, transportation and utilities.
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