KINGMAN — Kingman Mayor Jen Miles called it a celebration of “momentous progress” for development of the Rancho Santa Fe Interchange and Parkway.
A news conference last week featured thanks and praise for state Rep. Regina Cobb, who was instrumental in securing $20 million in state funding for the infrastructure component and economic development catalyst on Interstate 40 in northeast Kingman.
Cobb returned the gratitude, saying the achievement was a “team effort” with Gov. Doug Ducey, capitalizing on his understanding of the need to improve Arizona’s transportation network to benefit directly impacted communities and the rest of the state as well.
“This was an investment I feel like he needed to make, to show us that he was there for us,” Cobb said. “I think we’re going to see, over the next few years, some great expansions of what we can do in Kingman.”
With arterials stretching north to the Kingman Airport and south into the city, the proposed interchange will be another asset for a community already well positioned for economic development success, since it is bisected by U.S. 93 and I-40, with ample rail and airport service as well.
“We find ourself in this amazing natural confluence of transportation opportunity. This is an opportunity to be a transportation hub,” said John Hansen, president of the Kingman and Mohave Manufacturing Association.
Bill Lenhart, owner of Las Vegas-based Sunbelt Development, which has significant holdings near the interchange, said manufacturers are ready to locate in Kingman given variables cited by Hansen, along with favorable climate, tax structure and land prices.
Kingman City Manager Ron Foggin said the $20 million in state money is the first part of a three-legged funding stool.
“The project as a whole is budgeted at $46 million and some change,” Foggin said. “The other $26 million, as Mr. Lenhart indicated, we are working with the private sector to do a public-private partnership where we come up with $13 million as a city and they will come up with $13 million.”
Lenhart said Sunbelt intends to establish a community facilities district so that interchange-area property owners would invest in the project. He expressed optimism that the other two legs will support the stool with $20 million already in place.
“It’s a critical link that’s going to inspire the private developers and the city of Kingman to bring it home,” Lenhart said, noting the hope of initial construction in eight months or less. “That’s our goal. We have our foot on the gas. We’ve got a bit of momentum and we’re going to keep it up.”
Lenhart said Sunbelt plans a mixed-use development on its 1,000 acre parcel. He said buildings for manufacturers and other tenants likely will range from 5,000 square feet to 500,000 square feet, available for purchase or lease.
Cobb said it always was her intention that all of the $20 million would be for the Rancho Santa Fe interchange because, she said, Kingman Regional Medical Center has its own plan for developing the Kingman Crossing I-40 interchange. Some thought some of the money might be used for Kingman Crossing because the funding legislation referenced that the appropriation was for interchanges, plural, not singular.
“That’s because there’s a north and southbound side on that (Rancho Santa Fe) interchange,” Cobb said. “So (the Arizona Department of Transportation) said it needed to be written as interchanges, plural, so that to make sure that we have the north and southbound side.”
Vice Mayor Travis Lingenfelter noted that he gave away personally purchased hats promoting the interchange when he was lobbying for state funds long ago. He said his next personal purchase will be for golden shovels for the groundbreaking.
“This project is going to change not only all of Kingman, but all of northwest Arizona,” Lingenfelter said. “I don’t care what industry you’re in in Kingman, all boats are going to rise.”