Glendale’s western edge, near Loop 303, is the most rapidly changing part of the city, and its growth continues, as the city expects to see much more development in the area and annex hundreds of acres of land over the next couple years.
“What you can say is this: I think in five years, the 303 corridor is going to look substantially different from what’s there (today),” said City Manager Kevin Phelps.
There are at least six projects that will go vertical in the area in the next 18 months, Mr. Phelps said. Much of that development will be warehouses, as laws limiting the uses of land around Luke Air Force Base project to create an industrial hub near Loop 303.
Projects already underway include a Red Bull canning facility; Woolf Logistics, a 1,340-acre industrial campus and Lincoln Logistics, a 1.1-million-square-foot logistics center. The city moved a step closer to annexing two more properties, totaling 173 acres, this month: the Moss Property, which will add 1.3 million square feet of warehouses, and the Barclay group, which will include 1.2 million square feet of both industrial and commercial properties.
City staff also announced another new development this month: a Love’s Travel Stop truck stop, gas station and convenience store to be built at the northeast corner of Bethany Home Road and Cotton Lane on a property under the process of being annexed. It will be the third Love’s in the Valley, joining locations in Tolleson and Chandler.
Growth in the area has been especially speedy since the main utility provider to the area, EPCOR, completed a sewer treatment facility in the area late last year and is in the process of laying down sewer lines to service the area.
“It’s a shocking and surprising — even to us who are in this business every day — pace of rapid change that has come about,” said Assistant City Manager Chris Anaradian, adding that the rapid growth has been very positive in terms of the city’s vision.
Though he’s near certain the Loop 303 corridor will see significant change over the next five years, Mr. Phelps said staff is hesitant to project development or annexation beyond what’s already in the works, noting that projections become more uncertain as they try to reach further into the future.
“The hesitancy on the five-year projection is not that we don’t know what’s going on. It’s just that if you had asked city staff in 2007 to give a five-year projection of how that area would look like, obviously the economy came in and affected that,” Mr. Phelps said. “I think what we can say is this: properties are being transacted, design firms are being hired, construction documents are being created, and so there’s actual money being spent, and developers… they don’t do it to sit down and to hold it. So, what will really limit it will be just the market growth.”
In the event of a national recession, something many economists fear is looming, Mr. Phelps said nothing indicates “that the Southwest won’t still be a major hub of activity.”
Glendale’s western region is lined with noise contours, lines that show how loud the sound of Luke AFB jets will be on their flight paths in and out of the base. Maricopa County and the municipalities around the base have all agreed to write Luke Compatible Land Uses into their laws, dictating what types of uses are allowed near the base, depending on the noise contour the property is in. This was done to protect the base from noise complaints or pressure from neighbors to disrupt the base’s activities.
Because of these laws, most types of housing are forbidden across thousands of acres nearest Luke AFB. Instead, the area is ripe for industrial complexes like the ones already being built. The effect is not exclusive to Glendale. The Southwest Valley has also seen a boom of industrial development, including the recent announcements of three Microsoft data centers and a Nike factory.
The area is not without homes, as some exist where the noise contours are quiet enough. However, as Glendale moves to gradually annex more land from its municipal planning area — land under county control that only Glendale has the right to annex — City Council has not made residential properties a priority either. Council wants to add property that will bring value to the city, and it does not see adding homes, where the city will likely be obligated to supply utilities and emergency services, as adding value.
The city has not annexed any residential properties recently and Cholla District Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff said she and Mayor Jerry Weiers talked to county supervisors to try to convince them that rezoning county land in Glendale’s municipal planning area to residential “was not in the best interest of all parties,” but they couldn’t persuade them.
Mr. Anaradian without the residential component, the jobs in the Loop 303 corridor will be “destination jobs.”
In the area surrounding Glendale west of Loop 303, there are thousands of homes planned for development.
The area also won’t become “Westgate West” as the city does not plan on any large retail or entertainment centers in the area.
“We already have some pretty significant and successful retail centers in our community. I don’t see one of those emerging here in this district. I see supportive retail being here,” Mr. Anaradian said.
However, there will be plenty of small retail in the region, Economic Development Officer Randy Huggins said.
“There is going to be that retail that’s designed specifically to meet the needs of a local area, it’s just not going to be your big Tanger mall or big things like that,” he said.
Mr. Huggins noted that plans for the Barclay Group property is to have the northern third of the 97-acre property, nearest Glendale Avenue, be commercial or office space maybe with a gas station or restaurant as well. He said this could be a good “playbook” for the rest of development in the region because it provides both big job creators and retail.
Both the city and developers will be prioritizing manufacturing centers over distribution centers. Mr. Huggins noted that the Red Bull canning facility plans to have 200 jobs, whereas a high-tech distribution facility might only employ 15-20 people.
However, even in places where construction is underway, it’s not always known which type of business will set up shop. Many of the developers are building their warehouses as shells and waiting for a tenant to move in, Mr. Huggins said.
He added that manufacturing centers also attract more manufacturing centers to the area, but distribution centers don’t necessarily create the same hub effect.
“The goal for them is to get the highest value possible. Distribution center is not generally the highest value,” he said.