Residents losing houses in Loop 202 expansion

Posted: Updated:
by Jason Volentine

PHOENIX -- Homeowners in Ahwatukee are nervous about losing their homes to the long-planned Loop 202 extension. Many have made peace with having to move but now they're worried about the price they'll be getting from the Arizona Department of Transportation.

After 30 years of planning and plotting the new freeway, ADOT just received federal approval to move forward with the plan.

The new freeway will extend the 202 west along existing Pecos Road, cut the corner on South Mountain Park and heading north to rejoin the I-10 around 60th Avenue.

To accomplish the project, ADOT must spend about one third of a $1.9 billion budget to buy land that includes nearly 200 homes.

Hanna and Michael Lograsso bought their house along Pecos Road 13 years ago and knew the 202 could someday pave over their property.

"We had heard nothing [then] all of a sudden, in November I think it was, we got a letter in the mail that an appraiser is coming out and then it was like a rush-rush situation," said Hanna.

The appraiser came and went but yet the Lograssos haven't heard what ADOT is going to offer them for their house.

"We just don't want to be taken advantage of," said Michael. "Because we've tried to do a lot of things to make the house better for us and they cost money."

“They were so tight lipped about any sort of generalizations about dollar signs as well, so we have no clue,” said Hanna.

Their neighbor down the street feels the same way.

"Just make it right. You should be paying for a down payment on my new house. You should be ensuring that I can get into a new house, period. Because it's not my choice to move," said Jason Laferriere, another Ahwatukee homeowner who is awaiting an offer from ADOT.

ADOT is promising to pay fair market value plus moving expenses. But homeowners like Laferriere aren't sure exactly what that will mean yet.

"We bought in 2007 thinking that we were buying at the right time. Turns out we weren't. A couple of the houses short sold on the block and drove the price of our house down $80,000 in a matter of two months," said Laferriere. "If we are upside down then that could be a struggle. We're right on that bubble. This neighborhood, the freeway project, from what I understand, has really caused the home properties to go up and down."

In addition to the price they'll get people are also worried about where they'll go next.

"That's one thing they obviously can't guarantee us; that we'll be able to stay in the same area," said Hanna. "Because the other thing is, if there are 100 families at the same time looking for houses in the same area that's going to be another battle."

ADOT said it will start making offers on houses in April. If people do not accept the offer ADOT officials said they will be forced to start the legal process of condemning properties under eminent domain rules.

The wild card in all this - there is a one group of homeowners, Protecting Arizona's Resources and Children, still promising a legal challenge to the freeway project.

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