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City ideas that work.

Glendale, Ariz. Offers Innovative Economic Development Program to Attract New Business - It's SIMPLE June 23, 1992.

How does a city attract new business and industry when there is a limited inventory of buildings to house their operations?

In Glendale, Ariz., the answer is "SIMPLE."

The acronym stands for Strategic Industrial Master Plan and Landscape Enterprise, and is the brainchild of city officials working hand-in-hand with private-sector developers, architects and contractors.

"Our goal to eliminate as much red tape and expense as possible in the planning and future construction of a versatile, prototype industrial building," said Economic Development Director Jim Devine. "The building is adaptable to office, distribution and manufacturing uses."

"We believe this is the first program of its type anywhere," said Mayor Quentin Tolby. "We know it's the first in Arizona."

How does SIMPLE work?

A project team consisting of the city's Community Development staff, three development firms who have industrial parks in Glendale, an architectural and engineering firm and a general contractor basically built a spec building on paper, including preliminary site plans, landscaping and elevations, and ran it through all the required city approval processes. The result: a ready-for-certification, site specific building that can be built in any one of three business parks in Glendale.

The spec building area is 50,000 square feet, expandable to 80,000 square feet, with 20 percent of the space devoted to office use and 80 percent to plant operations. The plans can be adapted for a smaller or larger building and can be conformed to either a single or two-story.

Glendale's spec-building program can compete on both a cost and time basis with retrofitting existing space, Devine said. "It also represents a significant savings of time and money over the conventional process of designing and building a new facility."

According to calculations by the project team, companies taking advantage of the SIMPLE program can save up to 11 weeks of design, approval and construction time and up to 75 percent of planning costs.

Furthermore, companies using the SIMPLE plans also can save up to 65 percent of the time and money required to prepare financing exhibits and up to 15 percent of their architectural and engineering fees.

Another advantage is that a company can build a new facility in about the same amount of time required to retrofit an existing structure.

How did the SIMPLE program take shape?

Because the metropolitan Phoenix industrial market is overbuilt, there is a general assumption that there is an abundance of empty buildings and the market is flooded.

"In certain parts of the valley, such as Glendale, this simply isn't true," said Devine. "Last year, Glendale had few vacant buildings and no spec industrial buildings. This placed us at a competitive disadvantage with other valley cities in attracting mid-size industrial users."

Due to the general market downturn, financial lenders were - and still are - unwilling to finance speculative construction, Devine added.

To overcome this disadvantage, Devine decided to "test the idea of pre-approving industrial project designs and using these plans as marketing tools to lure businesses."

One of the most important aspects of the project, said Bernard Deutsch, president of the architectural firm, was working with a municipal government in a positive, problem-solving mode.

"My position requires me to spend a lot of time working with city officials on behalf of our clients," Deutsch said.

"For the most part, the officials are very amiable. However, as the process proceeds down to the staff level, the sense of urgency and helpfulness in assisting the clients often diminishes dramatically thereby negatively impacting their business plan.

"Glendale is the first city to demonstrate this unique, pro-active approach in working with new and existing businesses. As a result, a positive professional attitude permeates the Glendale staff. This is extremely important to the success of any business venture."

Peggy Kirch, vice president of SunCor, one of the three aforementioned development firms, said that time is especially critical to negotiations with potential users.

By all standards, the team's efforts were successful.

The SIMPLE program "levels the competitive playing field between Glendale and other cities with a large inventory of existing office and industrial space," Mayor Tolby said.

SIMPLE works!
COPYRIGHT 1992 National League of Cities
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Glendale, Arizona
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jul 27, 1992
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