Two mall-sized open-air shopping centers in Gilbert are digging up dirt and could be ringing up sales by March 2005.
Both will by anchored by Arizona’s first Super Targets, the department store-supermarket combo similar to a Wal-Mart Supercenter that will add more grocery shopping options into the marketplace.
Together with a northwest Valley project, also starting construction, the East Valley shopping centers are expected to cost $250 million to build, create more than 7,000 jobs and generate $200 million of sales tax revenue in the first 10 years, said David Larcher, executive vice president of Vestar, which is developing all three centers. About two-thirds of that will benefit Gilbert, Larcher said.
Crossroads Towne Center, a planned 1.3 million-square-foot shopping and entertainment project, straddles the Gilbert Road border of Gilbert and Chandler, south of the Santan Freeway segment of Loop 202alignment.
The first phase, 50 acres on the Gilbert side, will include the Super Target, Ross Dress for Less, Linens-n-Things, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Michael’s.
The second phase, 75 acres on the Chandler side of the road, will include a movie theater, restaurants and specialty shops, Larcher said. It is slated to be completed by the end of 2005, and Vestar already has targeted tenants at the table.
“We are negotiating with several now,” Larcher said. The third and final phase, 20 acres south of Germann Road in Gilbert, is expected to be finished by mid-2006, he said.
The completed project will be similar in shape, size and type of tenants to Vestar’s AMC-anchored retail and entertainment complex at 48th Street and Ray Road in Ahwatukee Foothills, Larcher said.
Nine miles west of Crossroads, along Loop 202’s proposed route, the 80-acre Gilbert Gateway Towne Center will stretch along the west side of Power Road to south of Ray Road. Vestar has landed Super Target, Ross, Linens-n-Things, Michael’s, Cost Plus World Market, PetsMart, Pier 1 Imports, Famous Footwear and Bank of America for the first phase, 50 acres north of Ray Road. It also is slated to be completed by March 2005. Another 30 acres south of Ray Road probably will be developed by late 2006, Larcher said.
Larcher isn’t worried about his two centers competing. He said besides Gilbert’s booming population, there are plenty of potential shoppers from Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Queen Creek to make both centers profitable.
“Gilbert is the fastest growing city in the United States,” he said. “It has the second highest median household income in Arizona, behind Paradise Valley. And it’s got nine miles of new freeway (planned) which will dramatically change the way people live, work and shop.”
Larcher said the big national retailers rushed to sign up for space in the Gilbert centers.
“Because of the quality of the area, the demographic profile of young, affluent
families, it’s an ideal customer base for Super Target and other retailers,” he said
The two shopping centers will help propel Gilbert to major-league status in the Valley retail scene, said Mayor Steve Berman. And cement the town’s reputation as business-friendly, he added.
A few years ago Gilbert was named the worst place to do business by an industry trade publication, Berman said. The town has been trying to change its image and attract the big retail developments ever since, he said. “Gilbert has about enough retail for a town of 35,000 (people),” Berman said. “You can’t even buy a $1,000 business suit in Gilbert.”
Berman admits the Santan Freeway helped bring developers such as Vestar to the table, but he said staff efforts to ease business dealings cinched the deals.