Opportunity knocks: Developers eye State Route 95 as ‘gateway’ to Lake Havasu City
The junction of Interstate 40 and State Route 95 has been described as a “gateway” to Lake Havasu City. It’s an area that sees a steady flow of traffic – thousands of cars per day. And that could mean big business for developers.
But not everyone agrees on the corridor’s future. An attempt by a property owner to put up a billboard along the highway was met with resistance by the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, not necessarily because of any objection to development, but because the county designates much of the SR-95 route north of Havasu as a scenic route.
“It’s the feeling of the board and the community that was not something we want to turn our highway into,” said Supervisor Buster Johnson. “Businesses can buy property and place their own signs, but once you start making exceptions – 10 feet or 100 feet from business areas, where does it stop?”
The county has allowed some business development along SR 95 — most recently in an area near Havasu Heights — but there’s no real development plan for the area, which developers say shows promise for the future.
With travelers from Southern California, Nevada and other locations throughout the Southwest, some are beginning to see promise in the desert landscape north of Havasu.. While a handful of truckstops and restaurants lie adjacent to the junction 14 miles north of Havasu, more could be on the way, according to Mohave County Department of Economic Development Director Bennett Bratley.
“There have been no permits filed for anything yet, but there are some projects in the site-selection process right now,” Bratley said. “We’re hoping to get transportation and distribution industries into the California market, and a manufacturing component could be key as well.”
According to Bratley, Mohave County is competing with other communities along the I-40 corridor for development by businesses and an opportunity to capitalize on I-40’s heavy traffic. At Havasu’s “gateway,” such development could be ideal for the region.
“A lot of the workforce for new businesses in the region would come from Kingman and Lake Havasu City,” Bratley said. “It would benefit each community individually and the county as a whole.”
Mychal Gorden, of Lake Havasu City’s Desert Land Group, agrees that the area has promise. His company has already seen growing interest in land surrounding the junction.
“It’s something that a lot of people have talked about for a long time,” Gorden said. “The whole corridor is ripe for development. In terms of a stopover place – for hotels, restaurants, amenities – there’s a huge potential for growth to support the heavy traffic on I-40. It’s a logical place to grow, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an intersection like this anywhere in this country that doesn’t have a hotel or distribution hub to take advantage of.”
Desert Land Group officials have met with potential partners who have already expressed interest in the area.
“They know what the future holds,” Gorden said. “It’s something that’s been overlooked, but there’s an immediate potential for development. On the south side of the corridor, and on the north side, there’s even more potential for industrial or even residential property development.”
According to Trent Timothy, a broker for Desert Land Group, the company bought many of the vacant lots in the developable 400 acres surrounding the junction. Desert Land Group is already receiving offers on the property.
“Toby-Hager Trucking, a California-based company, will have a transfer station there,” Timothy said. “Another company is planning to put in a truck-repair and RV tire shop, and we’re already designing an RV resort. We’re also in the middle of a (letter of intent) for a hotel in the area as well.”
When it comes to billboards, like the one requested by property owner Gary Hettick, a Lake Havasu City resident, they might not get a warm welcome no matter how the area develops.
“The businesses there generate business and employ Mohave County residents. These billboards don’t employ anyone and they do nothing for the community.”
Hettick disagreed with the supervisors’ ruling at their meeting, doubting that signage such as billboards would detract from the corridor’s scenic beauty.
“I shared my feelings,” Hettick said Friday. “The whole corridor is a gateway to Havasu and Parker. They’re missing an opportunity to get in step with reality and with the community at this stage. It seems ludicrous that (Love’s) has signage adjacent to our property, but we were denied a billboard. Approving signage along the corridor might lead to more signage, but it wouldn’t take away from the scenic beauty of it. It was a great opportunity to advertise our area and show what we have to offer.”