Westcor to Begin Planning for 40-Year Development in Tucson

Phoenix-based mall builder and operator Westcor is poised to receive a permit allowing it to make plans for the future development of 12,000 acres of state-owned land in southeastern Tucson. Arizona Star reporter Rob O’Dell wrote in the newspaper’s Jan. 2 edition that officials of the Arizona State Land Department and Westcor, a wholly owned subsidiary of Macerich Co. in Santa Monica, Calif., are about a week away from signing off on a deal that would allow Westcor to create a master plan for the area. City officials told O’Dell that Westcor could spend up to $12 million in the next year making site plans. State Land Department Commissioner Mark Winkleman and Deputy Commissioner Jamie Hogue noted in various news reports that the state would retain ownership of the land and that Westcor would have to bid on development parcels along with any other interested developers. Hogue told the Arizona Daily Star that the site is so massive that it could take up to 40 years to build out. It is expected to include plans for developing commercial and residential projects as well as keeping open space. Hogue was out of the office today and Winkleman was not available for comment before press time. The state-owned land runs from South Harrison and East Irvington roads south to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and east past Houghton Road, according to the newspaper’s story. Land along Interstate 10 would also be included in the site plan. Kent Simpson, a realtor with Prudential Foothills Real Estate in Tucson who writes a local real estate blog, told CPN today that many of his colleagues were “taking a wait and see attitude to see what actually becomes of it.” Simpson, who specializes in residential real estate, said the people in Tucson are starting to embrace managed growth to handle traffic, sewer and water concerns. “Forty years is a good way to plan that way because water is going to be a really huge issue,” he said. “People are starting to embrace (managed growth). They see growth as inevitable and it’s better to have it planned and managed than have it sprout up willy-nilly all over the place.” Simpson said Westcor is known in the area for its development of high-end shopping centers and open-air lifestyle centers such as La Encantada in Tucson. Founded in 1969, Westcor was acquired by Macerich in 2002 for $1.5 billion. Westcor’s portfolio includes 28 shopping centers, including 11 super-regional centers, three specialty retail centers and 14 urban villages. Most of its holdings are in Arizona, such as the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall and Kierland Commons in Phoenix. Westcor officials have declined to comment on the permit until all the documents are signed.