A proposed development in Gilbert’s Heritage District may not look like much at first glance.
But town officials hope Heritage Marketplace, a $10 million mixed-use center scheduled to break ground this summer, will be one of several projects that will help make downtown Gilbert a true destination and economic engine.
“Just in terms of our efforts to revitalize the Heritage District, this is a large step towards ... making that a reality,” said Kelly Patton, Gilbert business development specialist.
The project, which could eventually encompass up to 105,000 square feet of office, retail and residential space, is the first significant mixed-use development since work ended on the three-story Heritage Court several years ago.
Town officials hope the future center and developments like it will make Gilbert a destination similar to downtown Tempe surrounding Mill Avenue.
Even the complex’s main building looks strikingly similar to the Brickyard on Mill — a focal piece of downtown Tempe that features stores, restaurants and residential units.
But town spokesman Greg Svelund said that Gilbert’s downtown will be more family-oriented than the sometimes rowdy atmosphere along Mill Avenue.
“We’re not going to be the nightclub destination for the East Valley,” he said. “I think the comparison to Tempe pretty much ends there.”
Gilbert’s Heritage Marketplace will host a 40,000-square-foot component with office and retail space on three levels. Another building will include 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Developers also hope to build three additional office pads, each ranging in size from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet.
A parking garage is also in the works.
But before construction workers can hammer the first nail on the proposed Heritage Marketplace — which will be nestled between Gilbert Road and Ash Street on Vaughn Avenue — the project must win the official blessings of several departments, including planning and zoning and the Town Council. Work is scheduled to end in late 2009.
Tim Becker, vice president of Iowa-based Nelson Cos., said his firm beat bids from three other firms to develop the city-owned land after town officials solicited proposals in 2006.
Some plans have changed since Nelson Cos. started designing Heritage Marketplace. The main building was originally a four-story structure encompassing office and retail. But lack of adequate parking — which will be provided by the town — knocked the elevation down to three levels.
The company was also hoping to attract inPlay, a Peoria, Ill.-based arcade and entertainment gallery and sports bar.
But Brunswick Zone XL — a 57,000-square-foot game parlor featuring bowling lanes, bumper cars and video games — beat the company to the punch when it opened in July at Gilbert Town Square on Gilbert Road between Ray and Warner roads. Becker said the company is now searching for other sites in the Valley.
“They desired to be in this market,” he said. “We just haven’t found a location for them yet.”