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6 May 1 - 14, 2010

Abandoned retail from Page 1

Getting out of Dodge

Many property owners are opting to sell and cut their losses rather than proceed with new retail construction. Safeway was planning to build a store on McQueen Road opposite the new Paseo Vista park, but that proposal was recently withdrawn. “Safeway has informed the city that there are no development plans for this site in the foreseeable future,” says Smith. “We believe they would be interested in selling this site.”

Likewise, Pure Fitness is looking for someone to take over its partially built health center at the corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Heights. “We have heard that Pure Fitness would like to move ahead, but haven’t heard of a developer coming forward to finish the project,” Smith reports.

Southshore stalled

Other developers are seeking partners to provide financial backing for their proposed construction projects. The biggest of these is Nautica Development Group, designer of the much-anticipated $150 million mixed retail and housing Southshore Town Center slated for construction on the southeast corner of Chandler Heights and Arizona Avenue. The site, once touted as Chandler’s future crown jewel of upscale development, now sits idle as owners search for funding.

“The permitting process was completed in February of 2009,” says Nautica’s Doug Stephan. “Now we’re looking for a capital partner to joint venture the project. We’ve had some discussions, but nothing has been finalized.”

Once a financial backer is in place, Stephan is hopeful Southshore will be back on track.

Community

“After we finalize a joint venture agreement, it would take about six to nine months for construction to begin.”

Projects pending

Several commercial projects are facing delays or moving along at a sluggish pace.

Last summer, Target announced plans to close its store at Ocotillo Plaza on Queen Creek and Alma School roads and build an expanded retail center on Arizona Avenue across from Hamilton High School. There has been little movement on this relocation since the announcement.

“The construction drawings for Target’s building are currently in for plan review, and we believe that this project is on track,” says Smith.

But there are no plans to launch a new store or shutter the existing Target for at least another year or more.

“At this time, there are no set dates to share for a store opening or closing,” says Target spokesman Kyle Thompson. “Typically, we can confirm plans for a new store within one year of the scheduled opening. The reason for this timing is to avoid disappointment and misinformation within a community if store opening plans change.”

The Fresh & Easy grocery store at Chandler Heights and Arizona Avenue is similarly languishing. It’s been more than a year since construction was completed, but the store has never opened. Its owners recently petitioned the Chandler City Council for updated sales permits, giving the first indication that an opening is in the works for the long-standing store. “The action before Council was to keep their Liquor Use Permit current,” says Smith, “which would allow

Bashas’ sites in limbo

Chandler-based grocery chain Bashas’ is on the verge of exiting bankruptcy, but the stores it closed several months ago remain empty.

“The City has actively been reaching out to other retailers, particularly grocers for these sites,” says Smith. “But we have not heard of any other retailers moving into the former Bashas’ sites.”

The one exception is the former AJ’s at the Promenade at Fulton Ranch at Chandler Heights and Alma School, which will be taken over by Hill Arizona Grocery Company. The site is Hill’s debut store in the Valley, and will offer a full-service grocery, artisan bakery, gourmet foods, organic produce and an eat-in café. Opening is set for early summer.

Silver lining

Several other retail projects are moving forward in Chandler despite the area’s economic woes. The Shops at Pecos Ranch at the intersection of Dobson and Germann roads, also developed by Nautica, is faring better than most. A number of new clients have signed leases or made plans to move into the center within the next few months.

“Leasing is going pretty well,” reports Stephan. “We’ve signed with Tia Rosa’s, a Mesa-based restaurant, and Uncle Bear’s, a sports bar and grill. We also have a local pizza favorite coming, and they plan to announce within 60 days. And we’re in final lease

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