Overlooking the entertainment district: Peoria searching for a developer

Stadium Point, a 17-acre project that could include office space, hospitality, retail, multi-family, dining and entertainment, may one day overlook the Peoria Sports Complex, where residents celebrate Independence Day every year. The city has put out a request for proposal for a master developer.
Stadium Point, a 17-acre project that could include office space, hospitality, retail, multi-family, dining and entertainment, may one day overlook the Peoria Sports Complex, where residents celebrate Independence Day every year. The city has put out a request for proposal for a master developer.
[File photo]
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Calling all developers!

That has been the battle cry from Peoria economic development officials for a number of targeted properties throughout the city.

Right now, it is all hands on deck for the proposed project known as Stadium Point, located in the P83 Entertainment District, next to the Peoria Sports Complex, where the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners play during spring training.

The city is looking to develop 1 million square feet of Class A office space, a full-service hotel, parking, multi-family residential, public space, signature retail, or dining and entertainment.

Peoria has a request for proposal to bring in an experienced master developer to transform the 17 acres of shovel-ready, city-owned land into a unique, multi-use project. The request calls for the master developer to fund, design, construct and operate the site.

Costs will be determined after a proposal is approved.

All proposals are due to the city Jan. 22.

Peoria is moving aggressively forward with the project — city council is tentatively scheduled to consider a master development agreement from a firm in May.

Economic Development Services Director Rick Buss said there is a sense of urgency with the project due to the demand for Class A office space as well as hospitality.

In the last three years the city has missed out on 2.7 million square feet of Class A office talents that have been built elsewhere in the Valley, Mr. Buss said.

“We don’t have the class A office space. We need to build it,” he said. “We’ve talked to a couple hospitality consultants and we know building office space would drive room nights at a hotel, in addition to the demand we already have.”

City officials are touting the project as ideally located in the heart of P83, providing easy access to a wide variety of more than 100 restaurants, 15 bars, and more than 150 retailers.

Easy freeway access is also a benefit to the project, according to the RFP.

Deputy City Manager Katie Gregory said the area is quickly developing as a hub for professional and corporate office employers, home to a number of businesses including Wells Fargo Advisors, Charles Schwab, West USA Realty, Maricopa County Environmental Services, Canyon Title Agency and Huntington University.

“There is some real activity and interest in this site. The market is really ripe for this site right now,” she said. “We are really proud about all we have been able to accomplish at P83. It has its own district. It has a vision. It is very important to the city, a catalyst and an economic driver in the city.”

Cutting straight to the developers

Cheryl Lombard, president and CEO of Valley Partnership, said RFPs are standard practice at all levels of government for these types of projects. 

Valley Partnership advocates for responsible development on behalf of the real estate development industry. The organization works with cities and other public partners to ensure an open and transparent process when it comes to selecting private contractors for large-scale public development projects. 

Ms. Lombard said an RFP for a project such as Stadium Point is “important because it ensures that local leaders and prospective contractors of the project are being good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. ... In addition to the transparency, it also allows for one vision and the continuity of it for development and the city.”

Danielle Feroleto, National Association of Industrial and Office Properties board member, said an RFP creates an opportunity for municipalities to solicit developers and joint venture groups to offer what they see as the highest and best use for a project.

With RFPs, cities can cut straight to the ones who have experience in developing big projects, she said.

“It allows for the ability to cast the project out on a local, regional and national level. Then a municipality can look at the proposals and weigh the merits of each one, and ultimately conduct interviews when they can say I like this proposal or that proposal,” Ms. Feroleto said.

Once a developer is selected, the city and developer’s team bring their brain power and innovation together, she said.

“Then the municipality and the developer and the developer’s team come together to make the project work for the community and impact residents’ lives and make a financial success so that it becomes an economic development attractor and a model for other municipalities.”

‘Not quite complete’

Peoria recently commissioned a study conducted by hospitality consultant Revpar International that found a full-service hotel within the city — particularly the P83 area — would fill a niche that does not currently exist.

The area planned for Stadium Point is the best of five locations throughout Peoria for the prospect of a new hotel of up to 200 rooms, the study found.

The study touted the area for its ease of access, central location in the greater Northwest Valley and ability to serve customers’ needs, as well as its proximity to numerous amenities.

Spring training as well as youth and adult tournaments and international teams already serve as an attraction to the area year-round. More than 180,000 people attended the Peoria Sports Complex this year.

The hotel study said the site is in a stable market characterized by a steady population and residential growth, significant leisure demand and modest levels of corporate demand.

Realtor Rebecca Durfey said she was very happy to hear the city is looking for possible developers to submit proposals for the project.

She said P83 just doesn’t feel complete, and that is because it’s not — there are some restaurants, some commercial, some shopping, and the main draw with the Peoria Sports Complex, but that 17 acres needs to be developed. 

“My personal hope is that we have a developer come in and provide more multi-family residential, or if not residential, hotels,” she said.

“That is an ideal spot for second homes, especially for baseball lovers or part-time residents, and Peoria could use more hotels for all our spring guests and to provide more options than the couple on Bell Road and Westgate.”

Past attempts

The city has been trying to bring a unique development to this area for a number of years and released a previous RFP in 2011 that did not result in a contract.

Purchasing Supervisor Christine Finney said the scope and intent in 2011 was quite different than the current effort. Back then, the city was still working on a development plan for the P83 area, which did not have the brand it has today.

“With that RFP, we described a need for a team with financing in place for the redevelopment of the 17 acres, but it was very broad and did not address the desired asset classes nor did it identify schedule or phasing requirements,” Ms. Finney said.

“The current RFP specifically focuses on achieving the city council’s goal of creating an economic generator and enhancing the whole P83 district experience.” 

‘Natural next step’

The city recently made improvements to the P83 brand including streetscape and signs, as well as the nearby auto district on Bell Road, west of Loop 101.

Councilman Bill Patena, who represents the area, said P83 has been an economic driver for the city for some time. He said the city has been making investments to the area over the last 15 years, even before the P83 name was introduced.

He said this includes improvements to infrastructure, solidifying a contract extension with the teams and looking for opportunities to integrate new and complementary uses into the area to create an entertainment district.

Mr. Patena harkened back to a time when there was a house on the corner of 83rd Avenue and Bell Road, long before the popular In-and-Out Burger arrived in Peoria with much excitement.

This new RFP aims to expand on many efforts over the years by providing additional opportunities for residents through the creation of a carefully planned mixed-use development, he said.

“The natural next step is to round out the area with a fully integrated mixed-use development that attracts major industry in the form of class A office space and complementary workforce, high-end retail, restaurants and entertainment, full service hospitality,  and new residential/lifestyle options,” he said.

“We believe the market is ready, investors are interested and tenants are seeking space in this location.”

Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, phaldiman@newszap.com, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.

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