Mesa public safety put at risk for risky investment
At the February 26 meeting of the Mesa City Council, Sen. Bob Worsley made a rare appearance in an effort to promote a proposal to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with Arizona State University. The senator’s appearance surprised many Mesa residents who had never before seen their representative show any interest in the City’s business.
It is not the city’s business however, that prompted the appearance by the wealthy developer/senator.
In May 2016, Mesa Mayor John Giles announced plans to build a new campus for Arizona State University (ASU) featuring film, media, gaming, virtual reality programs. In November 2016, Mesa voters rejected a sales tax that would have funded the project and public safety.
According to Mesa City Councilman Kevin Thompson, constituents “time and time again” told him that they would support the increase for public safety, but could not support using public money to build ASU a campus.
|Listen to Mesa City Councilman Kevin Thompson’s interview on KFYI’s James T. Harris radio show|
“As currently conceived, the downtown Mesa campus would include four buildings, three of them located in a new Mesa City Center planned for an area bounded by Main Street and First Street as well as Center Street and Centennial Way,” reported the Phoenix New Times in May 2016. “The other would be situated on Main Street, at the northern edge of the Mesa Arts Center campus.”
At the February 26 meeting, the Mesa City Council voted 5 – 2 to direct the City Manager to begin the process of developing an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Arizona Board of Regents for the development, operation, and maintenance of the ASU facilities.
Related article: Mesa ASU Deal Could Put Public Safety At Risk
Prior to the vote, with former congressman and ASU lobbyist Matt Salmon sitting behind him, Worsley pleaded with the Council to protect the speculative investments he made in the area based on the ASU scheme.
“My wife and I have been meeting with people all over the Valley,” said Worsley. “Just today my wife met two people who want to invest in Mesa. Last week, we met with wealthy people from Paradise Valley who want to invest in downtown Mesa based on what they hear is happening. Speaking of dollars – hard dollars, we – the group I am invested with – we have invested over $20 million already on a bet that downtown Mesa is ready for what’s next.”
Worsley concluded, “I just wanted to say one thing; we need this investment in ASU. We need this center in downtown Mesa.”
CH Mesa Holdings was registered on June 27, 2017 in Delaware. Maricopa County Recorder documents shows that CH Mesa Holdings, LLC, a registered limited liability corporation (File Number: 6458344) filed deeds for the following properties:
|APN||Address||Last Deed Date|
|138-35-015||114 W MAIN ST MESA, AZ 85201||10/03/2017|
|138-35-016 120||120 W MAIN ST MESA, AZ 85201||10/03/2017|
|138-36-008A||18 W MAIN ST MESA, AZ 85201||10/30/2017|
|138-36-012 48||48 W MAIN ST MESA, AZ 85201||07/19/2017|
|138-42-022 155||155 W MAIN ST MESA, AZ 85201||07/07/2017|
|138-42-030||137 W MAIN ST MESA, AZ 85201||12/12/2017|
|138-55-004||202 W MAIN ST MESA, AZ 85201||10/03/2017|
|138-55-009||206 W MAIN ST MESA, AZ 85201||10/03/2017|
All of the above properties show a mailing address of 4320 E Brown Road, STE 110, Mesa, AZ 85205. Lyons Development LLC shares the Brown Road address with CH Mesa Holdings, LLC. According to the Arizona Corporation Commission, as of 2017, Worsley has been registered as a member of Lyons Development LLC.
Lyons Development LLC registered the following entities in 2017:
|L21665169||LYONS DEVELOPMENT LLC||MESA 114 W MAIN LLC|
|L21757686||LYONS DEVELOPMENT LLC||MESA 137 W MAIN LLC|
|L21853908||LYONS DEVELOPMENT LLC||MESA 48 W MAIN LLC|
|L21638767||LYONS DEVELOPMENT LLC||MESA 155 W MAIN LLC|
|L21657535||LYONS DEVELOPMENT LLC||MESA 18 W MAIN LLC|
Ranch Communities of America, owner of 29 West Main Street, is listed on Worsley’s financial disclosure statement along with CH Mesa Holdings.
Same players different town
On the same day as the Council meeting, Caliber Wealth Development Company, “a real estate investment, development and management firm, and project partner, Habitat Metro,” announced the purchase of eight downtown buildings for $7.5 million on Main Street. In a press release, Caliber claimed that “the nearly 100,000 square-feet of historic urban buildings are important project components to the economic strengthening and downtown transformation efforts of Arizona’s third largest city.”
Caliber Development, a subsidiary of Caliber, will serve as design-general contractor.
Caliber is also involved in developing a hotel in Tucson’s struggling downtown redevelopment TIF project known as Rio Nuevo. Rio Nuevo, a taxing district under the control of the state of Arizona, was forced turn to the Legislature this year to seek an extension from its end year of 2025 to an end year of 2035 in an effort to ensure it can meet its debt burden.
In July 2015, the Arizona Attorney General, in response to a question from Worsley, issued an opinion that the controversial Rio Nuevo District is exempt from the State’s gift clause. The decision paved the way for the Rio Nuevo Board to spend money at will.
The residents of Tucson called on the Legislature to terminate Rio Nuevo, however the latest proposal passed in the House last week, and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate.
Voters ignored in Mesa too
The Mesa City Council ignored the wishes of the public and elected to move forward with plans despite the fact that in 2016, Mesa Mayor John Giles said voters sent a clear message when they rejected a proposed increase in the city sales tax to fund the facility.
Mesa Police Sergeant Nate Gafvert, president of the Mesa Police Association, addressed the Council prior to the vote. He called on the Council to “help us make Mesa safe.”
That will be tough given the fact that Mesa is already cutting services, and will likely cut more to accommodate the ASU project.