‘District Downtown’ plan gets final go-ahead to fill long-vacant Chandler space

Retail space, construction sequence were sticking points for one councilman


CHANDLER — The long-empty square on the southwest edge of Downtown Chandler took one more step recently toward being developed.

The District Downtown is the name of the multi-use development proposed for the southwest corner of Arizona Avenue and Pecos Road, just north of Loop 202. At the urging of Chandler City Council member Matt Orlando, the developer of the 45-acre property, Meridian West, added some retail square footage and changed some phasing and sequencing requirements in its preliminary development plan.

The council unanimously granted rezoning and tentative approval to the plan at its Nov. 10 meeting. The council gave it final approval by approving the consent agenda at its Dec. 5 meeting.

Following the council’s study session on Nov. 7, Meridian West modified its development booklet regarding construction that “shall occur” prior to the second phase of multi-family housing. This includes adding 5,000 square feet of commercial, mixed-use, or hospitality space to be built concurrently when the multi-family housing on what’s labeled as “Parcel 4” is developed.

In addition, a rezoning stipulation has been revised to state that only multi-family development can only be built on parcels 4 and 5.

Brennan Ray, attorney for the developer, said it’s uncommon for developers in 2022 to be building as much “speculative” retail as what Orlando wanted. However, the councilman was adamant about how much gross receipts tax revenue from retail o would help the city fund many things and the importance of prominently placed stores along Arizona Avenue.

The complex plan also includes multi-story mixed-use buildings, a building height maximum of 120 feet, an outdoor plaza, one drive-thru pad, a hotel, a common outdoor community space for use on a facility such as a splash pad, two-, four- and six-story office buildings totaling about 364,000 square feet of office space, 795 multi-family residential units and parking garages.

Orlando, a longtime Chandler resident and city councilman, said when the site received planned-area development zoning for office, retail, and hotel uses in 1987 as part of a larger master plan that included the adjacent Stonebridge Ranch apartment complex, the Loop 202 freeway hadn’t been completed as far east as the Arizona Avenue exit yet.

Zoning was extended in 1989 and became vested when the apartments were constructed in 2000, according to staff reports. The zoning amended in 2007 to allow a “mid-rise overlay with heights up to 120 feet for the entire site.”

A conceptual preliminary development plan was approved in 2012. A rezoning was required this year in order to add multi-family residential within the mixed-use development.

There is a long list of sequences, conditions, and phase element requirements in the plan. The two main stipulations added after the Nov. 7 study session address the phasing that was among Orlando’s concerns:

• Commercial development must be completed prior to any multi-family use under Phase 1.

• Commercial development must be completed adjacent to Arizona Avenue in Parcels 1 and 2, excluding any mixed-use building, prior to any multi-family use on Parcel 4.

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