Plans for a 52-acre mixed-use development that was once supposed to be Gilbert’s version of Kierland Commons are on the shelf again.
Gilbert Growth Properties, a limited liability company and subsidiary of Cleveland-based Park Corp., purchased most of the land that would have hosted the huge retail, office and residential project for $7.9 million. It’s the second time the site has been passed off to different owners.
Morgan Neville, a consultant and local representative for Gilbert Growth Properties, said the company bought the property in separate transactions — 34 acres from Marshall and Ilsley Bank in a foreclosure sale and about 18 acres from Interra.
Neville said the company purchased the land for an investment and will keep its options open while it evaluates the market.
“I can’t say I blame them,” said Valley real estate analyst, Bob Kammrath. Unless there’s a specific user, it doesn’t make any sense to start development on a new project in this economy, he said.
Neville said it’s not out of the question that the property could one day host a development akin to Kierland Commons near Scottsdale.
“We would not arbitrarily eliminate that as a possibility,” Neville said. Some form of mixed-use project is the first option the company will consider, he said.
“We see great potential for this location,” Neville said, citing the quality of surrounding development.
It was nearly six years ago that Woodbine Southwest Corp., developer of the popular 38-acre Kierland Commons at the Phoenix-Scottsdale border, announced it and Canyon Oaks Val Vista would attempt to one-up the popular center with a larger version of the same development with a few small differences at the corner of Val Vista Drive and Pecos Road in Gilbert.
Like Kierland Commons, Main Street Commons was to mimic the traditional downtown from days gone by with small restaurants and shops, and possibly some loft office space and residential condos.
In September 2008, Woodbine, beleaguered by an ailing economy, sliced up the property and sold it to other developers.
It was only a year ago that new owners Interra Main Street Commons LLC and Opus West Corp. said the possible groundbreaking of a mixed-use development could be two to three years away. Opus West eventually declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2009.
Some life did take root in the area, including a large new fitness center and two nearby hotels. Still, developers never gained full momentum as potential retailers failed to sign on to the project.
Kammrath said the timing for Main Street Commons was poor.
Just because something worked in the Scottsdale-area doesn’t mean it would work in the south East Valley anyway, he said.
“The demographics of the population are different from place to place,” he said.