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6 March 3 - 16, 2012 Development From Page 1


Community


spring from the upper floor of our Community Center. Arizona State University will begin offering classes in the for- mer City Maintenance Yard in late summer or early fall. Combined, they will bring more than 100 students to the area in the first year with plans to grow enrollment to well over a 1,000 in the next few years.” Retail enterprises are likewise popping up in the down-


town area, filling vacant space and bringing much-needed revenue to the city. “The newest business is Planet Subs, and we have a new restau-


ASU TO DOWNTOWN: The building formerly used for city maintenance will hold classes for ASU students. STSN photo


“We continue to be reminded by the development com-


munity that due to many reasons, Chandler is a desirable place for development investment,” Kurtz reports. “The old adage that residential growth follows job growth and commercial growth follows residential growth is being demonstrated again in Chandler. Our community’s sus- tainability is not one-dimensional nor attributed to a defined event.”


Downtown boom and beyond Mirroring the uptick in housing starts, commercial devel-


opment is on the rise as well. The surge is especially appar- ent in historic downtown Chandler, where business is booming and the biggest problem officials face is finding ways to meet the demand. “We are currently working on several major efforts,” says


Chandler Downtown Redevelopment Manager Teri Killgore. “We are very busy getting space renovated for our new university tenants and preparing for their move-in. The University of Arizona will begin offering classes this


rant coming in to the old Art on Boston space later this fall,” Killgore notes. “We are running really low on available space. Downtown has a 4% retail vacancy rate and a low office vacancy rate. Our existing tenants are doing a wonderful job as evidenced by increased sales tax receipts, which are up 15% over last year. Really our biggest challenge is finding financing for the new developments.” And in other places around the city, commercial interests


are laying the groundwork for future projects that will keep Chandler growing for years to come. “There is a development interest that recently pur-


chased the southwest corner of Price and Queen Creek roads but they haven’t submitted any plans yet so perhaps they are marketing the site,” says Kurtz. “Predicting the commercial development market is difficult as it evolves slowly at times and is affected by many factors. If you had to guess today one would expect one of the three vacant corners at Gilbert and Ocotillo roads will be developed with a traditional neighborhood shopping center.”


The competition One potential speed bump on Chandler’s road


to recovery is a major retail complex soon to break ground on the Gila River reservation. Once opened, the expansive plaza is expected to divert local shopping dollars without generating any income for the city.


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NEW EATERY: Planet Subs is now in the former location for NY Deli in downtown Chandler. STSN photo


www.SanTanSun.com “We are concerned about competition the new high-end out-


let mall on the Gila River Indian Community will offer to Chandler Fashion Center, as we will see a number of the same type of tenants,” explains Christine Mackay, Chandler’s eco- nomic development director. “With only so many shopping dollars to go around, more than 300,000 square feet of new retail will have an impact on those shoppers at Chandler Fashion Center and others in the East Valley.” Westcor, the company that owns and manages the center, is


trying to stay competitive by expanding its offerings to include unique retailers and specialized services ahead of Gila River’s debut. “Five new stores are coming to Chandler Fashion Center by


June,” Mackay says. “The Art of Shaving, a store focusing on men’s grooming needs that houses a full-service barber shop; trendy women’s boutique Francesca’s Collections; Lush, home of handmade cosmetics made from organic fruit and vegeta- bles; Vera Bradley fashion accessories and gifts; and AT&T, a leader in wireless and Internet services.”


Room to grow Rather than struggling to keep busi-


nesses in place or fill vacant space, today officials are looking for room to grow. “We need new space for the businesses


that regularly contact our office looking for a downtown location,” says Killgore. “To that end, we are looking at creative ways to get some new buildings built. Obviously, the financing environment is difficult, but we are actively working with our development partners to get some products out of the ground as quickly as possible.”


Miriam Van Scott is a former Kerby Estates resident who can be Miriam@SanTanSun.com.


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