August auction slated for State Trust land south of Apache Junction

By Richard Dyer
Twitter: @RHDyer
Posted 5/26/20

State Trust land south of Apache Junction and north of Queen Creek is to go to auction in August.

The auction is Aug. 20, with the time, location, number of acres and the process to be announced …

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August auction slated for State Trust land south of Apache Junction


State Trust land south of Apache Junction and north of Queen Creek is to go to auction in August.

The auction is Aug. 20, with the time, location, number of acres and the process to be announced in the next two weeks, Dave Cherry, public information officer for the Arizona State Land Department, said.

“As far as specifics, all of that is put together in what’s called our auction notice and that is delivered to the public --- meaning the media and members of the public --- at the same time through our website and advertising and various areas,” he said.

The information is to be posted by June 11.

“It will specifically say what the minimum bid is, what all of the parcels are, where the exact locations are, what are the requirements if anyone wants to come and do the bidding,” Mr. Cherry said.

By statute the advertising and public notice have to be out a minimum of 10 weeks prior to the auction, he said.

“So we actually have until June 11 to post it. We normally post it a little bit earlier than that, once it’s done, but there’s obviously a lot of legal folks looking at it, making sure all of the numbers are right and the financing is right. This is the official document for all of the bidders to use, too,” Mr. Cherry said.

State Trust land

The Arizona State Land Department manages approximately 9.2 million acres of State Trust lands within Arizona. These lands were granted to the state under the provisions of the federal Enabling Act that provided for Arizona’s statehood in 1912. These lands are held in trust and managed for the sole purpose of generating revenues for the 13 State Trust land beneficiaries, the largest of, which is Arizona’s K-12 education, according to

The Arizona State Selection Board in July 2019 approved the annexation of 6,687 acres of state trust land into the City of Apache Junction. The vacant property is south of Elliot Road, west of the Central Arizona Project canal and north of where State Route 24 is to be constructed.

Arizona’s state land commissioner, Lisa A. Atkins, requested approval of the annexation in T1S R8E Sections 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 34, all in Pinal County, according to the minutes of the selection board’s July 17 meeting.

At its Aug. 7 meeting, the Queen Creek Town Council approved the annexation of nearly 4,150 acres of State Trust Land from Germann Road north to the future alignment of SR24 and the Central Arizona Project canal west to Meridian Road. The Arizona State Selection Board approved the town’s annexation of the property at a meeting June 11, 2018.

Auction process

Anyone interested in purchasing the property to be auctioned will need a cashier’s check.

“You show up, you get a paddle ... and then the bidding begins and sometimes there’s one bidder there and other times there are several people that are bidding and the auction goes to the highest bidder,” Mr. Cherry said.

“A lot of people don’t realize that trust land is (less) like public land --- parks and recreation areas and things like that. State Trust land is more like private land,” he said.

“The state of Arizona owns it, but we own it exclusively for the benefit of the 13 beneficiaries that were established by Congress back when we became a state and 90% of the acres that we have, the beneficiary is K-12 public schools... But that also will be listed on the notice,” he said.

“So our whole goal is to manage, protect, serve and sell the land for those beneficiaries. So it’s not really for the public’s benefit; it’s for the benefit of those beneficiaries,” he said.

All of the property available for auction will be purchased by the high bidder, but it could be one or multiple entities, Mr. Cherry said.

“What could happen and has happened in the past is two bidders will come and they’ll have formed some sort of an (agreement) or a partnership between them and they’re two separate companies that want a share in the development of it and they will bid as one and then they will have a separate agreement as to how they want to separate it out. But the bidding will be on the full parcels that are being released and that’s all of the information that will be in the first paragraph of the auction notice,” he said.

2,400 acres to be auctioned?

The auction is for 2,400 acres, Apache Junction Development Services Director Larry Kirch said recently.

“The auction for the state land is moving forward in August,” he said at the May 26 meeting of the Apache Junction Planning and Zoning Commission.

“After that auction happens, if there is a buyer --- a successful buyer --- the city will work with whoever that buyer is in terms of annexation and zoning and all of that. So, that would happen, I think, probably by the end of the year; after the auction it’s another five-six months for annexation and zoning,” he said.

“I think the auction was like 2.400 acres, maybe. What would be annexed would be more on the order of 4,800 acres, something like that. So that’s ... on Ironwood, Meridian, on the extension of the SR24,” Mr, Kirch said.

When State Route 24 is constructed east from Ellsworth Road to Ironwood Drive, it will be the dividing line between the municipalities of Apache Junction and Queen Creek.

The state land board of appeals approved the property going to auction, Al Bravo, Apache Junction public information officer, said.

“The department’s Board of Appeals approved going forward with the auction at their May 14 meeting. That started a 90-day clock on the process,” he said.