Entrepreneurs focus on property near light rail - East Valley Tribune: Business

Entrepreneurs focus on property near light rail

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Posted: Sunday, June 8, 2008 6:09 pm | Updated: 10:54 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The 20-mile, $1.4 billion light rail line that is about to serve the Valley is more than a public transit system for real estate agents Don Mortensen, 31, and Bryan Watkins, 55.

It's a moving link that connects the two agents for 1st USA Commercial Properties with real estate sellers and buyers.

CAPTION

Mortensen, who recently earned a master's degree in real estate development from Arizona State University, and Watkins, a longtime Valley real estate agent, have created an Internet Web site that lists residential and commercial properties along a one-mile stretch on either side of the light rail line.

Visitors to their site, www.lightrailconnect.com,can search not only for real estate but also for restaurants, museums, colleges and other attractions.

"Our goal is to use the new light rail line to connect people with businesses," Watkins said.

"A lot of public tax dollars are invested in the light rail line," Mortensen added. "We're doing our part to not only make it profitable for us, but to make it even more successful for the cities and the riders who will be using it."

Real estate sellers are charged a negotiated commission once a sale is completed, but buyers and visitors can gather information free, Mortensen said.

The real estate listings include the asking price, type of structure, size of the lot, address and a photo of the building to be rented or sold.

He said the one-mile limit on either side of the light rail line will be strictly enforced, thus creating a 42-square-mile area available on their Web site for buyers, sellers and visitors.

The light rail line that's been under construction since 2005 is scheduled to begin carrying passengers on Dec. 27. It runs from Phoenix through Tempe into Mesa and has 28 stations and eight park-and-ride locations.

At first, an estimated 26,000 passengers will use the light rail daily, with the number of riders expecting to climb to 50,000 by 2020, according to Metro Light Rail.

However, the rise in fuel prices may cause ridership to grow even more, said Metro Light Rail officials. Additional extensions for the light rail line are being planned for both the west and east end of the new line.

"We think providing information about Metro Light Rail is a wonderful idea," said Marty McNeil, marketing manager. "We know a lot of enterprises out there who see light rail as an opportunity, but, as a public agency, we can't officially endorse it. We wish them well, however."

An average of 70 hits each day have been made on the site since it opened six months ago. More than 150 properties have been listed on the site.

"Our next goal is to create online sites for other cities in states that already have light rail lines, including Utah, Denver and Dallas," Watkins said. He said there are light rail lines - and potential Web sites - in 35 states in the United States.

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