WalletHub, a personal finance website, analyzed more than 180 of the largest U.S. cities to find the happiest cities of all. They examined 31 key indicators they culled from positive psychology to rate happiness, including the depression rate, income growth, average leisure time per day, life expectancy, job satisfaction, unemployment, commute time, divorce rate, and weather, among others.
The happiest U.S. cities in 2019, according to WalletHub, are:
But therents and prices for the new homes will shut the door on some who want to live in the area. and home prices in historic neighborhoods in and around downtown Phoenix are soaring as the area becomes more popular, further limiting Metro Phoenix potential buyers.
“It’s heartbreaking that the teachers and those working in the area’s hotels and cafes can’t afford to live in downtown,” said Cindy Dach, downtown Phoenix proponent, resident and business owner. “The area won’t be diverse unless we plan housing for everyone.”
Some affordable housing is planned in the city’s core, but not enough, say housing advocates. Building affordable housing in the area is tough due to rising land prices.
“We need the entire spectrum of housing in downtown Phoenix,” said Patricia Garcia Duarte, CEO of the housing non-profit Trellis. “Many people forget affordable housing is needed to create a healthy community.”
“We fell in love with the area, but saw prices and rents climbing fast,” Williams said. “We knew we wanted to buy, but there was a lot of competition for the houses we liked.”
Woodland is part of the 85007 ZIP code, one of central Phoenix’s more affordable neighborhoods. The area, which has also attracted many investors, saw its overall median home price climb 10 percent to more than $192,000 in 2017. Sales in the area jumped nearly 20 percent last year.
The couple’s house, for which they paid less than $250,000 a few months ago, was never even listed for sale. They were renting in the neighborhood and searching for a home they could afford when they met a longtime homeowner who didn’t want to sell to an investor.
Phoenix Housing Director Cindy Stotler said downtown Phoenix has 1,001 affordable units which is more than most people realize.
The issue is that those units are reserved under federal law for “very low-income” individuals who have a median annual income of $14,000-$38,000.
Stotler said the real downtown housing gap is in “workforce housing,” for middle-income individuals who make $38,000-$48,000 annually. These individuals would have to pay nearly 50 percent of their income to afford living in market-rate housing downtown which is not reasonable or sustainable, she said.
“To me, the area that we’re missing in downtown is the working people’s housing. And people who are not like a lawyer or something and making a lot of money, but they’re just average working people,” she said. “There’s no regular housing for them. We’re not building that.”
To get workforce housing downtown, the city likely won’t be able to rely on traditional developers, Stotler said.
Land prices are high, which makes it difficult for developers to offer middle-income rents and still turn a profit on their projects, she said.
Garcia Duarte said financing is also difficult for more affordable housing, which deters some developers from building it.
Stotler is looking to city-owned land in downtown as a possible solution to this issue. She hopes to find developers or non-profit groups that may be able to build middle-income housing on these lots.
Affordable housing to market-rate
Phoenix’s housing department owns and operates three affordable housing properties in the downtown core.
Deck Park Vista: Located at Third and Moreland streets, Deck Park Vista has 56 subsidized senior apartments. The average household income is $17,848 and only two of the units qualify as workforce housing.
Ambassador West: This complex located near Van Buren Street and Fifth Avenue has 102 units. The average household income is $24,159 and only 28 of the units qualify as workforce housing.
Reflections on Portland: This small, 18-unit complex at Second and Portland streets has five workforce housing units. The average household income is $35,245.
Stotler would like to take some of the city’s housing projects and redevelop them as denser projects with more units available for middle-income households.
For example, Deck Park Vista is a garden-style apartment complex with just 56 units on two acres of land. Stotler said she could fit between 200-400 units on the land.
“It’s a poorly designed project for the downtown,” she said.
Stotler said the city has 10 other senior housing options across Phoenix, including some near downtown, like the Warehouse District, where the current residents could be moved to accommodate a new multistory project on the land with 200 workforce units and 50 affordable units.
Financing the project won’t be easy. While the city gets federal assistance to provide low-income housing, there are far fewer resources to build and provide middle-income housing, Stotler said.
“That’s where I’m struggling right now, is where we can get the funding to build all these workforce units,” Stotler said.
Pressure to build affordable In Phoenix, AZ
In most large cities, particularly those on the East Coast, it’s common practice to require developers who build market-rate housing to contribute to an affordable housing trust fund, which allows the city to build affordable housing.
Phoenix can’t do this. State law prohibits cities from creating such trust funds, Stotler said.
Instead, the city council can, and has, put pressure on developers to include a percentage of affordable or workforce housing in its projects if they want special perks from the city like a tax break or extra height.
Recently, the developer of an apartment project planned at the Arizona Center agreed to reserve 10 percent of its 354 planned units for workforce housing in exchange for a tax break.
The stunning Arcadia home at 5105 E. Exeter Boulevard is a Spanish Colonial Revival estate and sits on nearly two acres of greenery at the base of Camelback Mountain. There are five bedrooms and four bathrooms.
Check out a similar 1926 Spanish, Pueblo Revival for sale in Arcadia right now by clicking here.
The property also served as the residence of Miss Kitty from “Gunsmoke” for 17 years.
It boasts arched windows, iron balconies, a Moreno tiled entryway and has a living room with an 11-foot coved ceiling. The fireplace is modeled after the one at the Phoenician while the former basement has been transformed into a 1,500-bottle wine room, wine-tasting room and large workout room.
The gourmet kitchen features light-colored slab granite, a commercial six-burner gas range, double ovens, double dishwashers, three sinks, SubZero refrigerator and a large walk-in pantry.
The grounds also feature numerous patios, a 42-foot long pool, 12-person spa and outdoor kitchen.
The approximately 6,400-square-foot property sold on March 20, 2018.
It’s now the Valley’s most popular intersection, according to a new poll among real-estate and growth experts.
Urban Land Institute Arizona members recently voted the central Phoenix spot the “hottest intersection” in metro Phoenix. It beat out Phoenix’s Camelback and 24th Street, an area that garnered the title the last time the group voted a decade ago.
“Camelback and Central has old buildings with great design, diversity and very supportive neighbors,” said Craig DeMarco, restaurateur and a founder of Upward Projects, at the Urban Land contest last week. “It’s the only intersection in the entire Valley with four historic neighborhoods surrounding it.”
Camelback and Central didn’t even make Urban Land’s top 10 list for hottest intersections in 2007.
A lot has changed since then. A boom and bust, light rail and a move toward an urban lifestyle by more Valley residents have shifted our growth.
Plus, DeMarco’s group has opened five restaurants, including a Postino, Windsor and Federal Pizza, around Camelback and Central over the past decade.
Other rankings on Urban Land’s top 10 list:
Downtown Tempe’s Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway was voted No. 2 in the hot-intersection contest. The popular urban hub moved from third a decade ago. Matt Mooney, managing director of Cousins Properties, pointed out that Tempe led the nation for filling existing office space with tech firms from 2014-16.
Scottsdale and Camelback roads came in at No. 3, after hitting No. 2 the last time. Real-estate attorney Jordan Rose, who has an office at this Scottsdale intersection, said people can shop, eat, work, vacation, get their hair done and even buy a Tesla at Camelback and Scottsdale.
Chandler’s bustling Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard tied for fourth. Danny Plapp of LGE Design Build pitched the area for its $70,000 median household income, office space, new apartments and jobs. “A younger, richer and hipper generation wants to live in new suburbs like Chandler,” he told the crowd. “Just look at San Tan Brewery’s sales at this intersection.”
Phoenix’s 24th Street and Camelback intersection and the Camelback Corridor tied for fourth. The area is still a hot spot of offices, hotels, shopping and eateries but has a lot more competition now.
At No. 5 is the Scottsdale Road and Greenway Hayden Loop area, near the city’s popular airport. Danielle Casey, Scottsdale economic-development director, said there are often “celebrity sightings” at the airport and in the area. The intersection didn’t make the list the last time.
Downtown Phoenix’s Central Avenue and Roosevelt near Roosevelt Historic District ranked No. 6 after not making the list a decade ago. The area, known as Roosevelt Row, has recently emerged as a hub for new apartments, condos, cool restaurants, historic renovations and light rail.
7 historic Phoenix landmarks that no one remembers
July 26, 2017 by Richard Kaufman
When the Central Avenue Dairy began in the early 20th Century between Central and 3rd Avenue, north of Thomas, the city limits for Phoenix ended at Van Buren.
They are all historic Phoenix landmarks. They were centers for the community long before Phoenix became the fifth-biggest city in the country. They have all been replaced by various commercial real estate projects, but they created memories for all who visited them. Here are seven historic Phoenix landmarks that very few people remember.
Weems Turkey Ranch
The ranch was built around the time Arizona became a state in 1912.It was surrounded by a six-foot granite wall.The ranch covered about 80 acres and was located at 7th Avenue and Camelback.It extended from 7th Avenue to 11th Avenue to the west and from Camelback to Colter to the north.The ranch house faced east and sat about 150 feet north of Camelback and 100 feet west of 7th Avenue. Weems had hundreds of turkeys and also had chickens, geese and goats. Most families in Phoenix at the time bought their Thanksgiving Turkeys there.
Today: The area is home to an LA Fitness, Fry’s and other retail shops and restaurants.
Central Avenue Dairy
The dairy began in the early 1900’s and ran from Earl to just south of Thomas and from Central to 3rdAvenue (about 46 acres).We never were bothered much by the smell as there were less than 100 cows at any one time.
Today: Park Central Mall construction began in 1955, thus ending the run for Central Avenue Dairy.Nearby land was also used to build St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
Phoenix Trap and Skeet Club
Located in Echo Canyon at the base of Camelback Mountain, the Arcadia Neighborhood, it was an ideal place to be.The club was organized in the 1930s.In trap shooting, the“clay pigeons” are launched from a single machine away from the shooter.In skeet shooting, targets are launched from two machines in sideways paths that intersect in front of the shooter. The club hosted the world national competition for many years until 1952, when the club moved to Papago Park.
Milky Way Ranch
The ranch was a gorgeous place to visit — a giant oasis of 320 acres.It was located between 20th Street to 28th Street and from Camelback to Campbell.The ranch’s headquarters was located exactly where Trader Joe’s is today. The ranch was built in 1900 and closed down in 1950, but a nine-hole golf course was built on the site in late 1951.
Today: In 1965, Town and Country Mall was built and it has undergone renovations and a renaissance over the past several years.
Sportsman’s Park was a 160-acre horse racing track. It had a huge white sign with blue letters that rose high above the entrance at the northeast corner of 7th Avenue and Indian School Road. It extended east to 3rd Avenue and north to Indianola.The park was built in 1920. By late 1950, the racetrack closed its doors.
Today: The area is home to the entrance of the Melrose Historic District, a post office, fast-food restaurants and residential housing.
In this photo of Richard Kaufman taken at Cactus Air Park on March 18, 1951, the Mazatzal Mountains in Payson are visible in the background. Those mountains were 90 miles from the flying site.
Cactus Air Park
Cactus Air Park was an open area of 960 acres.There was always at least three to five airplanes sitting at the northwest corner of the field. The airplanes did not have a closed hangar.The area had no street signs until 1957.All of the 960 acres were hard flat dirt without a single growth of anything.This was due to the Borate compound the airplanes would spray on the field (Borate was later outlawed in the mid-1960s).The confines were Shea to Cactus to the north and 32nd Street to 44th Street to the east.Endless miles of desert extended beyond the confines.
Airhaven Airport was built during WW II and was located between 27th Avenue and 35th Avenue just south of Indian School Road.The runway ran 30 degrees northeast to 30 degrees southwest.It was bordered on the southwest by Grand Avenue and the northeast by Indian School Road.The Arizona Canal bordered the airport to the south.The entrance was just before you got to the intersection of Indian School Road, 35th Avenue and Grand Avenue.
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, DECEMBER 01, 2016
The national housing market is largely predicted to moderate in 2017, but a handful of metros are expected to beat expectations. In fact, 10 markets are looking like hot-beds for growth in the new year with Phoenix, Arizona being number one.
Realtor.com®’s research team has flagged markets that will likely see average price gains of 5.8 percent and sales growth of 6.3 percent in 2017. Those gains would exceed next year’s anticipated national growth of 3.9 percent in home prices and 1.9 percent in home sales.
As such, real estate professionals in these 10 markets should expect a booming business in 2017. Realtor.com® notes these are the hottest housing markets to watch in the new year, based on price and sales gains:
Why are expectations so high for these 10 markets? Realtor.com®’s research team notes that strong local economies and population growth are helping to fuel sales. Also, the top 10 housing markets have other commonalities, such as relatively affordable rental prices, low unemployment, and large populations of millennials and baby boomers.
Top Housing Trends for 2017 Next year’s predicted slowing price and sales growth, increasing interest rates and changing buyer demographics are setting the stage for five key housing trends:
Millennials and boomers will dominate the market – Next year, the housing market will be in the middle of two massive demographic waves, millennials and baby boomers – that will power demand for at least the next 10 years. Although increasing interest rates have prompted realtor.com® to lower its prediction of millennial market share to 33 percent of the buyer pool; millennials and baby boomers will still comprise the majority of the market. Baby boomers are expected to make up 30 percent of buyers in 2017 and given they’re less dependent on financing, they are anticipated to be more successful when it comes to closing.
Midwestern cities will continue to be hotbeds for millennials – Midwestern cities are anticipated to continue to beat the national average in millennial purchase market share in 2017 with Madison, Wis.; Columbus, Ohio; Omaha, Neb.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Minneapolis, leading the pack. This year, average millennial market share in these markets is 42 percent, far higher than the U.S. average of 38 percent. With strong affordability in 15 of the 19 largest Midwestern markets, realtor.com® expects this trend to continue in 2017 even as interest rates increase.
Slowing price appreciation – Nationally, home prices are forecast to slow to 3.9 percent growth year over year, from an estimated 4.9 percent in 2016. Of the top 100 largest metros in the country, 26 markets are expected to see price acceleration of 1 percent point or more with Greensboro–High Point, N.C.; Akron, Ohio; and Baltimore–Columbia–Towson, Md., experiencing the largest gains. Likewise, 46 markets are expected to see a slowdown in price growth of 1 percent or more with Lakeland–Winter Haven, Fla., Durham–Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Jackson, Miss., undergoing the biggest shift to slower price appreciation.
Fewer homes on the market and fast moving markets – Inventory is currently down an average of 11 percent in the top 100 metros in the U.S. The conditions that are limiting home supply are not expected to change in 2017. Median age of inventory is currently 68 days in the top 100 metros, which is 14 percent – or 11 days – faster than U.S. overall.
Western cities will continue to lead the nation in prices and sales – Western metros in the U.S. are forecast to see a price increase of 5.8 percent and sales increase of 4.7 percent, much higher than the U.S. overall. These markets also dominate the ranking of the realtor.com® 2017 top housing markets, making up five of the top 10 markets on the list (Los Angeles, Sacramentoand Riverside, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., and Portland, Ore.) and 11 of the top 25 (Colorado Springs, Colo.; San Diego; Salt Lake City; Provo–Orem, Utah; Seattle. and Oxnard–Thousand Oaks–Ventura, Calif.)
The Phoenix metro area is the second-best in the nation for homeowners, according to a Bankrate.com report released Wednesday.
Portland, Phoenix, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Minneapolis/St. Paul round out the best metropolitan areas for homeowners, according to the report. Bankrate.com is a leading aggregator of financial rate information and this marks their first time releasing such a report.
The study reviewed eight factors: home affordability; price appreciation; property taxes; homeowners’ insurance, energy and maintenance costs; foreclosures and how rapidly rents rose over the past six years for which data are available.
Phoenix ranked high on the list for several reasons, including strong home-price appreciation, few foreclosures and inexpensive homeowners’ insurance, according to the report.
“Phoenix was one of the best cities in all the categories we looked at,” said Claes Bell, Bankrate.com analyst. “We were looking to see which cities were the best for attainability, sustainability, affordability and if there was a rewarding financial benefit to owning a home in these areas.”
The Phoenix area scores fifth lowest on the scale of rent hedging, which is a way of measuring rent increases compared with the home price appreciation. In Phoenix, house prices have also been rising faster than rents over the past five years, contributing to the Valley’s high ranking. The Phoenix metro area had the tenth highest energy cost among the 50 metro areas, a reflection of high air conditioning bills during the summer months, according to Bankrate.com.
Home values plunged during the housing bust, but now they are recovering, according to Bankrate.com, and the pace of home appreciation in Phoenix in the last five years is second fastest among the 50 largest metro areas.
The greater Phoenix area also has bounced back from the foreclosure crisis. For the last three years the city has had the second lowest foreclosure rate among top metro areas.
“Builders stopped building during the housing bubble and now demand beats out supply,” Bell said. “Phoenix is no different in that way from the rest of the country. What’s different is the property tax rate and the affordability of the home itself. In cities like New York and L.A., housing costs are half to three-quarters of a person’s annual income.”
Strong home-price appreciation over the past five years is a common thread in Phoenix, Atlanta and Las Vegas. The Twin Cities’ best housing attributes are strong home-price appreciation and a dearth of foreclosures.
Hartford, Connecticut ranks last because of high carrying costs: It has above-average property tax, energy, homeowners’ insurance and maintenance fees. The New York City metro area is second-worst due to high property taxes, minimal home-price appreciation and expensive maintenance costs. Only Los Angeles (fourth-worst) prevented a northeastern sweep of the bottom five (Providence is third-worst and Buffalo is fifth from the rear), according to the report.
“Major cities in the middle of the country did really well in this ranking,” Bell said in a press release. “Out of the top 15 metro areas, only one is within 250 miles of an ocean. Homeowners in America’s largest coastal cities face a number of challenges, ranging from sky-high mortgage payments gobbling up an outsized portion of homeowners’ incomes to high property insurance rates, especially in hurricane-prone areas, and our ranking reflects that.
The Valley is seeing new inward development, a change from the outward expansion typical of metro Phoenix. Mark Quinones/azcentral.com
There’s an urban revival going on in the Phoenix Valley, which has long been known for its affordable suburban homes.
Karen Wang is buying a condo in the new 14-story Portland on the Park development in downtown Phoenix.
Her new home is going up on a prime piece of land next to Margaret T. Hance Park that was a dirt parking lot when she moved here from the San Francisco Bay Area for culinary school 12 years ago.
Of course, metro Phoenix had plenty of empty lots back then. It was rated as one of the cheapest metro areas for parking in the U.S. in the mid 1990’s because it had so much vacant land, especially downtown.
Now, construction cranes and new housing, restaurant and retail developments can be found on many of those long-vacant parcels across central Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa and Glendale.
The Valley, an area that for so long has grown outward with new, affordable suburbs, is having an urban revival.
Almost 4,000 condominiums are under construction, planned or were recently built in the central Valley, according to developers.
Upwards of 8,000 apartments are being built on infill sites in metro Phoenix, according to ABI Multifamily.
Infill land prices in the Valley have more than doubled in the most popular neighborhoods during the past 15 years, property records show.
Home prices and rents are climbing the fastest in the Valley’s urban hubs.
And the days of finding free parking on dirt lots in central Phoenix, Scottsdale or Tempe are as long gone as those vacant parcels.
Portland on the Park project at Central Avenue and Portland Street
Millennials and Boomers are behind the shift in metro Phoenix’s development. They want to live where they can walk or ride bikes to where they work or play — or both.
Builders are responding with many new high-density, high-rise condominium and apartment projects near popular eateries and shopping hubs. Not only are vacant lots being filled; older, often empty buildings are being transformed as well.
“I want a more urban lifestyle that wasn’t available when I first moved here,” said Wang, 39, who is moving downtown from the Arcadia area of Phoenix. “I am looking forward to walking just a few minutes to restaurants and the dog park.”
Her commute to her retail job in Scottsdale will get longer, but her partner, Logan Stephenson, works in downtown Phoenix.
Most urban planners support infill and high-density development because it uses less water, cuts back on freeway traffic and can create more walkable neighborhoods.
“It is a reflection of the Valley maturing as a metro area when the value of land closer in becomes more valuable and demands higher uses or basically more density,” said Mark Stapp, a growth expert and director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at Arizona State University.
“It’s a good thing for growth,” he said.
The Valley may never be Manhattan, but …
Phoenix will never be a San Francisco, Manhattan, London or Hong Kong for high-rise living.
The Valley also still lags other big cities such as Chicago, Portland and Denver for urban redevelopment. And growth on the Valley’s fringes will continue.
But metro Phoenix is already a higher density city than most people realize.
“Too many people equate the Valley’s growth with sprawl,” said Grady Gammage Jr., author of the new book “The Future of the Suburban City: Lessons from Sustaining Phoenix.”
An average of 3,200 people live per square mile of the Valley, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a national growth think tank.
Gammage, who has been analyzing metro Phoenix’s growth for decades, said that makes the Valley a more dense area than Seattle, Houston, Charlotte or Atlanta.
Los Angeles is the densest U.S. city with an average 7,000 people living in every square mile. Second is Las Vegas with 4,500 people per square mile, he said.
But more condominiums and apartments are under construction or planned in the Valley now than any time since the boom. Most are going up in the central Valley on infill sites.
People often try out an area by renting, experts say. Then they’ll buy if they really like it.
“Apartments lead the way for condo construction,” said Tom Simplot, CEO of the Arizona Multihousing Association and a former Phoenix city councilman. “People first became comfortable living in that area, and are now converting to ownership.”
Rooftops following retail
Metro Phoenix’s typical growth trend has been reversed with infill.
Retail followed rooftops to the Valleys’ suburbs. But now new housing is chasing new infill restaurant and shopping hubs.
“Creating ‘high-connectivity’ hubs with high-density homes near restaurants, bars, shops, cultural centers and jobs is becoming the development pattern of metro Phoenix,” Stapp said.
Phoenix infill hubs include:
Downtown Phoenix, which has become a big draw for buyers, renters, eaters and shoppers. The area’s Roosevelt Row has several new condo developments, row houses and apartments. The Muse, with 367 apartments, is going up at Central Avenue and McDowell Road, a prime corner of the city’s skyline that has been empty for decades. Downtown Phoenix has the highest average apartment rents in the Valley.
Central Phoenix, where there are several restaurant hubs drawing residents and new infill homes. There’s the Uptown area around Postino, near Camelback Road, where high-end townhouses are filling the last vacant spots. One developer is transforming old apartments into Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired condos called the Mason.
Midtown Phoenix, where apartments and condos are going up among clusters of restaurants and shops across from Steele Indian School Park. In the Midtown neighborhood called the Yard, after the hopping restaurant hub on Seventh Street, home prices jumped 50 percent last year.
Phoenix’s Camelback Corridor and Biltmore areas, which have very few empty lots left for development. Now builders are tearing down older apartments to make way for newer, luxury ones because so many people want to live near the area’s luxury shops and high-end restaurants. New projects are stretching this chic area’s borders south.
“In the last 15 years the major urban cores of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe have transformed to the extent that the population is now demanding planners make them increasingly vibrant,” said David Newcombe, a co-founder of Scottsdale-based Launch Real Estate and broker at Portland on the Park.
He said the trend for urban growth is being powered by “people wanting to take back ownership of their life.”
High-density and vertical developments aren’t just going up in Valley downtown’s anymore, either.
If an area has a popular restaurant and shopping hub, then developers are building, believing buyers will come.
Pat and John Simpson are moving from their home in north Scottsdale’s DC Ranch to a new luxury condo at Optima Kierland. The 12-story development is going up on the Phoenix/Scottsdale border next to a resort, popular shopping and restaurant hub near the Loop 101 Freeway.
“We are downsizing but not downgrading to an area where we can walk to get a cup of coffee or a meal,” said Pat Simpson, a real-estate agent with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s who moved to the Valley from New York a decade ago. “We want views and amenities.”
In April, more than 1,400 new and used condos sold, according to The Information Market. That’s the highest monthly tally since mid-2007.
“Creating higher-density housing like condos near central areas strengthens communities and provide people with an alternative way of living in the Valley,” said architect David Hovey Sr., who developed the Optima condos in Scottsdale and Phoenix’s Biltmore area and now is building in Kierland.
Kierland, where a 12-story condo building is on the rise, is among the suburban areas drawing higher-density housing. Others include:
Central Scottsdale, where the Old Town and the Waterfront areas are sprouting high-end condos and apartments near many upscale restaurants and shops. Condo prices are easily topping $1 million, particularly in the development replacing the Borgata shopping center.
South Scottsdale, known as SoSco, which is drawing Millennials to its new apartments and older neighborhoods with more affordable porch homes. Apartment rents jumped 20 percent in this area last year.
Tempe’s Town Lake and Mill Avenue, which led the Valley’s urban rebound. New developments underway on ASU land along the water will bring even more apartments and condos to the 24/7 area that is drawing not only students and Millennials, but Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers.
Downtown Mesa, which is drawing its first new housing developments in many years and becoming a cultural hot spot.
Moving in, up or down
Metro Phoenix’s two biggest groups moving closer in now are Millennials and empty nesters or Boomers, developers say.
These huge demographic groups seem to want to spend less time in their cars and taking care of homes with yards.
The Koch family represents both. Ann, 55, and Bob Koch, 59 live in north Phoenix but are buying a new condo in downtown Phoenix’s en Hance Park for their daughter Kayla to live in while she goes to ASU.
“We looked at renting an apartment for Kayla downtown and then realized buying could be a better deal,” Bob Koch said.
He said when their daughter moves out, the couple plan to keep the condo, stay there themselves and share it with family and friends who want to enjoy downtown.
Kayla Koch, 21, said she will walk to class and take light rail to her job in Uptown Phoenix at Flower Child restaurant.
“There’s these new type of ethos and feeling about living in an area where you can walk to a park, so many restaurants, museums and things to do,” said Aaron Carter, broker for en Hance. “More people are letting go of the trappings of a larger home to be in a great location, particularly if it’s near light rail.”
Ride it, and you might like it
Metro Phoenix Light Rail
Some may question whether light rail has drawn enough riders to be considered a success, but few dispute the train tracks have drawn development and created new Valley growth hubs.
Several of the Valley’s most popular new restaurant and shopping areas stretch along light rail from Midtown Phoenix to downtown and out to Tempe and Mesa. Housing has followed the train.
Some planners expect to see similar hot spots for development in Glendale as light rail expands there.
Light rail helped draw Adrian Zaragoza to downtown Phoenix.
He had been living in north Phoenix and found himself driving everywhere, including to central Phoenix to hang out with friends.
Five years ago, he began renting on Roosevelt Row. Now, he’s buying a condo at Portland on the Park.
“Downtown is great. I can either bike or take the train wherever I want to go,” said Zaragoza, 29, a senior financial manager in Tempe. “I only drive my car to go to work.”
Patricia Gober, interim director of ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, said light rail has helped change metro Phoenix’s growth pattern.
“Light rail has created places where people feel like they belong and want to be in the Valley,” she said. “Phoenix is becoming more dense and poised for better growth, thanks in part to its trains.”
Density means less water usage
Urban planners say one of the biggest benefits from higher density housing is how it improves water conservation. Most infill developments use much less water than traditional neighborhoods with single-family homes.
“A very rough but conservative estimate would be that a typical high-rise household would use at least 50 percent less water than a typical single-family home on the Valley’s fringes,” said Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute.
Based on several recent studies, she estimates a metro Phoenix high-rise home uses an average 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of water a month.
That means a Valley single-family home with a yard uses an average 8,000 to 10,000 of gallons of water each month.
“In the Valley, up to 70 percent of household water goes to outdoor uses, though the average percentage per household has been declining,” Porter said.
Water usage is an important growth factor for cities in the West like Phoenix dealing with shortages and long-term droughts.
But not all urban planners think a big shift to infill development is the right growth path for the Valley.
“Areas with high-dense housing and vibrant downtowns like San Francisco, Paris and Manhattan are unaffordable for most people,” said Joel Kotkin, executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His most recent book is “The Human City. Urbanism for the Rest of Us.”
He said metro Phoenix’s big draw for new residents is relatively inexpensive housing.
“Affordable cities like Phoenix are now drawing Millennials and families who can’t afford to live in Southern California or on the East Coast,” he said. “I am not sure those people are looking for more expensive high-rise developments in the desert.”
But Gammage and Stapp said they think there’s demand for both infill and high-rise homes as well as more affordable single-family houses farther out in the Valley.
“Not all future growth will occur in the Valley’s core,” Stapp said. “We will need to build on the edges, but more dense regional hubs can also evolve in Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler and other suburbs.”
Density appeals to Wang, who the Bay Area transplant who is moving to downtown Phoenix.
“Part of my pessimism about living in the greater Phoenix area is that I’ve always felt like it was a large suburb due to the sprawl,” she said. “But the growth of Phoenix has dynamically changed in the past five years.”
She said it’s tough to compare Phoenix to San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles for downtowns.
“But Phoenix can be Phoenix, and it has changed over the years,” she said. “I am happy about the attention and renewal being brought to the heart of the city.”
Fixed-rate mortgages this week dropped to their lowest averages of the year, which analysts attribute to the fallout from last week’s “Brexit” vote.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.48 percent this week, only 17 basis points from its all-time record low of 3.31 percent in November 2012, Freddie Mac reports.
“In the wake of the Brexit vote, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond plummeted 24 basis points,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This extremely low mortgage rate should support solid home sales and refinancing volume this summer.”
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending June 30:
30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.48 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 3.56 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.08 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.78 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 2.83 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.24 percent.
5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.70 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 2.74 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.99 percent.