The largest shopping center to hit the growing Hunt Highway Corridor near Queen Creek is under way. The under-construction Skyline Ranch Marketplace will be a 64-acre commercial center located on the northeast corner of Hunt Highway and Gary Road in Pinal County.
The center is expected to bring more than 600,000 square feet of shopping and restaurant space to the area and will be anchored by Home Depot and Target. Residents of the busy, populated corridor say they have long needed shopping and restaurant opportunities closer to home.
Officials with Diversified Partners, the developer of the shopping center, said they are preparing the site by grading and installing utilities. Project manager Justin Gubler said they plan to start constructing buildings in the next three to four months.
Originally scheduled to open in the second half of 2007, the first stores are now anticipated to open in March 2009, Gubler said.
“It’s just market conditions,” Gubler said of the delay. “It’s a growing area that we feel has a lot of promise. It was underutilized and underserved.”
Residential growth in the area attracted the company to develop the site, Gubler said. A report by Phoenix Commercial Advisors for the developers shows 42,000 new homes planned for development within a five-mile radius of the shopping center.
The project’s leasing director, Matt Ladendorf, said Target and Home Depot are confirmed as anchor retailers of the center. He said he is in negotiations with other “big box stores” but could not say which retailers he has been speaking with.
He said the center has also confirmed that a Chili’s restaurant, along with a Taco Bell and an Arby’s, will be located in the center. No other retailers have been officially announced.
“I’m also in discussions with a couple of big sit-down restaurants and another fast-food restaurant,” Ladendorf said.
Doretta Allison, who lives in nearby Anthem at Merrill Ranch, said she is thrilled there is progress being made on the shopping center.
“I think it will be a dream, we’re so excited not to have to drive so far,” she said. “It will be great to have shopping so close — a Target and a Home Depot where we don’t have to drive 40 minutes will be wonderful.”
Allison said she also hopes new shopping and restaurants will help stimulate the area’s economy, which has become sluggish because of the slow housing market.
“Goodness knows we need a boost to the housing out here, and that’s one thing people mention is that there’s no shopping,” she said. “The stores will do very well because there are people out here just waiting for something to come.”