North of the Border

Texas town leads in job growth.

1) McAllen, Texas, leads Hanley Wood Market Intelligence’s list of top 75 markets for job growth. Driven by business expansion related to cross-border commerce, the town’s job numbers rose 2.3 percent annually in the first quarter of 2011. In May, job growth around the country was the weakest since September, Market Intelligence says.

Land Limbo

A Phoenix land sale shows how low prices can go.

Courtesy The Benjamin Group

2) A 10,200-acre tract of land in Goodyear, Ariz., that was financed five years ago for $400 million was foreclosed on and resold in June to a group of investors for $32.5 million, roughly eight cents on the dollar. The land was bought in 2006 by a partnership of investors, including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which put down $150 million and took out two other loans for $125 million each to fund the purchase and development.

“[The purchase] couldn’t have been timed any worse. No one knew the market could turn off overnight,” says James Pickett of The Benjamin Group, whose business partner, Bill Olsen, represented the sellers in that 2006 transaction and the buyers in the most recent one.

Sterling in the Hills

A long-planned Denver development is approved.

3) Sterling Ranch, a huge $4.3 billion Denver community that has been in planning for 10 years, received zoning approval in May after developers resolved Douglas County officials’ worries about the impact the 3,400-acre development would have on water resources. The community, which at build-out would have 13,050 homes and 31,000 people, is expected to use one-third the water of a typical development because of conservation efforts and water reuse.

Groundbreaking is planned for 2012, and home construction is scheduled for 2013. Builders involved with Sterling include M.D.C. Holdings’ Richmond American Homes, Ryland Homes, and KB Home.“This allows us to live the dream we’ve had for years,” Harold Smethills told the Denver Business Journal. Smethills, his wife, Diane, and former Richmond American executive Jack Hoagland are principals of Sterling Ranch LLC.

An economist hired by Sterling predicted the ranch would create 1,000 construction jobs a year during the 20-year build-out phase, 9,000 permanent jobs when it’s done, and make a $411 million annual positive impact on the economy.

By Sea Then Land

Seafood processing planned to return to downtown Boston.

4) A new seafood processing and distribution center in Boston is expected to re-establish the city’s south port as a working seafood processing area. The $68.9 million project, called the American Seafood Exchange, is designed with state-of-the-art equipment that should transport the daily catch from the fishing boats to consumers in record time, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

When complete, the exchange will include an auction area, cold storage, a fresh transfer house, and a public packing house. The public can watch the auction action through a viewing station on the city’s Harbor Walk.

Turbine Charged

Savannah nets manufacturing expansions.

5) An 890-acre expansion of the Savannah-Hilton International Airport approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers paves the way for a $500 million expansion of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. The growth should add more than 2,000 jobs to the local economy, airport director Patrick Graham says. Savannah is expected to pick up another 200 jobs with an average salary of $58,000 when Savannah Machinery Works, the first Mitsubishi industrial gas turbine manufacturing facility outside of Japan opens. The first phase of the $325 million plant was recently dedicated.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: McAllen, TX, Boston, MA, Phoenix, AZ, Denver, CO.