2007 Marks Historic Year for State Land Department
(Phoenix) Capping off a record-setting year for the Arizona State Land Department, The City of Phoenix expanded its open space land preserve acreage when Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon gave the winning bid of $85 million for 945-acres of preserve land located East of I-17 and South of the Carefree Highway.
Today’s auction marked two major milestones:
- The value of the State Land Trust Permanent Fund exceeded $2 billion this year.
- This is the first time in four years that preserve land was sold under the Arizona Preserve Initiative.
According to State Land Commissioner Mark Winkleman, the auction marks major success for both the City of Phoenix and The State of Arizona.
“Selling 945-acres to the City of Phoenix for its Sonoran Desert Preserve is a benchmark event,” Winkleman said. “Importantly, it provides permanent open space for the public and it demonstrates that cities can work with the Land Department to acquire Trust Land for this purpose,” he said.
“I applaud Mayor Gordon, Councilwoman Neely and the City Staff for their leadership and willingness to accomplish this important task,” Winkleman said.
Winkleman explained that the Arizona Preserve Initiative is designed to encourage the preservation of select parcels of State Trust Land in and around urban areas for open space to benefit future generations. The law lays out a process by which Trust Land can be leased for up to 50 years or sold for conservation purposes. Leases and sales must both occur at a public auction.
According to Mayor Gordon, the vision that the Land Department leadership takes in the careful planning for land like this Sonoran Preserve area is vitally important to the City of Phoenix and the entire State of Arizona.
Gordon said the city plans on keeping the vast majority of the land as open desert preserve and will eventually develop 82-acres from the 940-acre preserve as a future park site.
“The city and its residents have spoken up to preserve our beautiful desert and to help protect environment, and we are the stewards of that responsibility,” Gordon said. “This area will attract a great amount of retail and residential development and this preserve will be showcased as an important amenity for the entire city,” he said.
Winkleman stated that 2007 has been the most historic year ever for the State Land Department.
“This year we have seen a series of record-breaking auctions, welcomed and encouraged the commitment to smart growth by the development community and seen consistently growing demand for State Land,” he said.
Winkleman cited previous milestone auctions in the past year, including those slated for the master-planned development such as Lost Dutchman Heights and Desert Ridge as significant sales that helped the Land Trust Permanent Fund exceed the $2 billion value.
“Today’s auction really caps off a record-breaking year for the State Land Department,” Winkleman said. “The fact that in only six and a half years, the balance in the Land Trust grew from $1 billion to $2 billion is remarkable and a huge benefit to all benefactors, in particular the public schools throughout the state.”
Winkleman stated that the balance in the Land Trust Permanent Fund is expected to continue growing rapidly due to an outstanding principal receivable balance of $939 million on sales financed through the Department and the continued demand for State Trust land.
Winkleman explained that Permanent Fund receipts consist of revenues from the sale of State Trust land and the sale of minerals and other natural product. The Arizona State Treasurer invests and manages the funds. Permanent Funds are distributed to the beneficiaries, by the Treasurer, based on a constitutional formula that accounts for the average market value, the rate of return and inflation.
The proceeds from land sales and leases go to the beneficiaries of the Permanent Fund, primarily Arizona Common Schools, supporting grades K-12. The Arizona State Land Department manages 9.3 million acres of Arizona State Trust Land. For more information about the State of Arizona Land Department visit land.az.gov or call (602) 542-4621.