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Friday, March 24, 2017

Progress Slower–But Not Stalled–on Area Commercial Developments

In comparison to previous years, commercial development in the South Mountain and Laveen Villages has slowed significantly. But that doesn’t mean projects previously planned for the area are gone forever.

One delayed development is The Village Center at South Mountain on the southwest corner of 32nd Street and Southern Avenue, adjacent to The Farm at South Mountain.

“We are still very much interested in developing our site, especially since our preliminary renderings are now completed,” said T. Charles Hirshon, president of Chicago-based Manava Inc. “However, based on today’s economic context, we have opted to wait for a more opportune time.”

The first phase of the nine-structure, mixed-use development would include an assortment of retail tenants on the ground floor of several buildings, with office space on the upper levels. The second phase would primarily house office space on the development’s west end.

Hirshon said the project will be re-evaluated at the end of the year.

At 24th Street and Baseline Road, uncertainty surrounds future development. Shortly after The Marketplace at South Mountain opened on the southeast corner last summer, construction on Danny’s Family Car Wash was to begin on the west side of 24th Street. Talks were also ongoing with two major fitness chains.

Today, although the fitness center plans are scrapped, the car wash is still a possibility, said Kyle Scott, a spokesperson for Triyar Cos. Inc.

“If and when construction starts on the Danny’s, it will be alone for a while. The location is good, but retailers have stopped expanding everywhere,” said Scott, adding that the retail market is just starting to see some movement.

At 32nd Street and Baseline Road, Anytime Fitness will debut in October. Local resident Paul Heitzman is opening the 24-hour, co-ed fitness franchise, which will feature about 5,000 square feet of workout space.

“It’ll have a dedicated core and stretching area, free weights, strength training and every type of cardio equipment you can imagine,” said Heitzman, who also owns Paramount Iron, an iron fabrication company near Central Avenue and Victory Street. “All the equipment is top-of-the-line – the finest in the industry.”

The boutique-style health club is the fastest-growing gym franchise in the country.

Just north of the South Mountain Village, construction drawings are nearing completion for Yourland, a cultural mixed-use redevelopment center on the southwest corner of 16th Street and Buckeye Road.

Martha + Mary’s Sloane McFarland, developer of the 20-acre site, recently announced United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will be the first tenant. The government agency that oversees lawful immigration into the United States will occupy about 50,000 square feet.

McFarland said construction will begin in a couple months, with USCIS opening in April 2010.

At the city level, District 8 Councilman Michael Johnson said his office is continuing to work closely with local businesses and developers to ensure growth and improvements continue. In addition to encouraging partnerships with the City of Phoenix so local businesses can participate in city contracts, he’s working to bring more federal grant and development funds to the district.

“We’ve made enormous progress in the last eight years, and I’ve made it a personal goal to make sure we protect those gains, even in challenging economic times,” Johnson emphasized.

In Laveen, Cigna Medical Group, the medical practice division of CIGNA HealthCare of Arizona Inc., is set to open one of its CareToday convenience care clinics at Laveen Village Center. Pending state inspections, the 1,400-square-foot facility at 35th and Southern Avenues could open as soon as Sept. 4.

Staffed with nurse practitioners and physician assistants, the clinic will offer after-hours and unscheduled care for minor injuries or ailments such as colds, ear aches, flu, strep throat, lower back pain, bladder infections and pink eye. In addition, the clinic will provide child and adult immunizations and pregnancy tests.

No appointments are necessary and CareToday’s services are provided to people with and without insurance.

According to Michael Moreines, a local developer with Terrazona, LLC whose projects include Laveen Village Center, Memphis Best BBQ will soon take over the space recently vacated by Shakey Jake’s BBQ.

Moreines also confirmed LA Fitness in now under contract at his Estralla Mountain Village development on the southwest corner of 51st Avenue and Baseline Road. Groundbreaking for the fitness center should begin next May.

Ruben Gallego, chief of staff for District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowksi, stressed the key to getting more retail in Laveen is construction of the South Mountain Freeway.

Gallego will soon travel to Washington D.C. to meet with officials and encourage a quicker resolution on the freeway. He also recently joined Laveen Association of HOAs member Patrick Brennan to drive a downtown Phoenix restaurant owner around Laveen, encouraging him to open a sit-down eatery.

“Our office will continue trying to recruit the quality businesses that Laveen deserves,” he said.

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