Riverview at Dobson opponents produced an economic study Wednesday that disputes the developers’ revenue and job projections for Mesa.
Tim Hogan, a retired Arizona State University economics professor, wrote in a 14-page report that the retail center would generate between $21 million and $56 million for Mesa over 30 years — well below the developers’ projected $170 million. The report also states the center would create 2,500 retail and auto dealership jobs, below the developers’ projection of 3,467.
"From a city point of view, I would argue it’s not a good investment," said Hogan, who was paid $5,000 by the "No on Riverview" campaign for his analysis.
The "Yes on Riverview" campaign fired back Wednesday, providing figures to justify their job projections and citing an Ernst and Young market analysis for its revenue projections.
"I think the Mesa voters will trust the comprehensive report authored by Ernst and Young for the city of Mesa over this brushfire opinion prepared by a Tempe-based consultant who is on the payroll of the ‘No’ campaign," said Doug Cole, "Yes on Riverview" campaign spokesman.
Mesa paid Ernst and Young $25,000 for its market analysis.
Early voting begins today on Propositions 300, 301 and 302 — all of which must pass for the Riverview at Dobson project at Dobson Road and Loop 202 to move forward. The election is May 17.
Hogan said he believes Ernst and Young’s sales projections are accurate and that the center will be profitable for the developers.
But Hogan notes that the projected tax revenue does not take into account that more than 50 percent of residents within a five-mile radius of Riverview live in Mesa and are likely already shopping in the city. He said Riverview will create a shifting of city tax dollars from established Mesa stores — where the city gets to keep all of its sales tax — to Riverview, where more than half of the city sales tax will be rebated to the developers for up to 20 years. For Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Hogan said Mesa residents will make up only 20 percent of the sales because the store will draw from a wider area.
Hogan also questioned Ernst and Young’s projections that include an increase in sales every year through 2040, when data show that shopping centers do not last that long.
Steve Klett, the author of the Ernst and Young report, could not be reached for comment.
Hogan’s report states a maximum of 2,500 new jobs would be created at the retail center and auto dealerships. He did not include the planned business park portion of the project.
The "Yes" campaign said there will be 3,467 retail employees at buildout, based on the International Council of Shopping Centers’ 2004 study of Arizona statistics. The campaign states that the auto dealerships will have 350 total employees, which was based on interviews with several Phoenix-area dealerships. The 48-acre business park will employ 1,567 people, according to ratios and percentages obtained through interviews with office and industrial developers. That’s a total of 5,384 jobs.
The project is expected to include a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, movie theaters, retailers, auto dealerships and the business park.