|It’s hard to believe with all the recent building, but the Loop 101 freeway corridor in Scottsdale and Mesa is nothing like it’s supposed to be a decade from now.
The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is showing signs that it is willing to take advantage of its location along the freeway to boost its economic outlook.
Landowners who have eyed creeping Scottsdale development for years are becoming more willing—following years of negotiations—to allow construction on the scrub desert and farm land along the freeway.
This week a partnership between a Valley-based developer and the Indian community landowners announced it plans 4 million square feet of office, industrial, retail and other commercial space on more than 200 acres west of the Loop 101 and north of Via de Ventura.
Earlier this year, a Scottsdale company executed long-term leases on 187 acres of community land between Via de Ventura and Indian Bend Road on the east side of the Loop 101.
The parcel is expected to house more than 2.5 million square feet of office, retail, entertainment, hotel, and other commercial uses.
A family of 30 in the community plans to develop 83 acres of land bound by Loop 101 to the east, Pima Road to the west and south of McDonald Drive. Called Lincoln 101, the project is to include office, light-industrial, hotel and retail space.
Add recent expansions of the tribe’s two casinos and a planned resort and it’s easy to tell the community is becoming a major player in the East Valley economy.
“With the 101 opening up, it sort of opened up a new business corridor, but the problem is one side of the corridor is already fairly used up,” said Jay Butler, director of the Arizona Real Estate Center at Arizona State University.
In the early 1970s, Butler said, the community was partially developed when Scottsdale Community College and some homes were built, but then the tribe backed off.
“Now, the market has sort of come to them with the 101 being a very popular place to be,” he said, adding it’s too early to know if the community will be a powerhouse in commercial development.
“They will take it at a pace in which they sense they control the situation,” he said, adding negotiations between developers and landowners take years because the community is interested in ensuring that jobs and other social services come with construction.
“It’s taken the 101 to open the entire thing up,” Butler said. “They’ve been talking about doing development for a long time, but you just had Pima Road and it wasn’t going to be any big benefit to any kind of development up there.”
Don Arones, Grubb & Ellis senior vice president, said the corridor has some of the greatest potential for commercial development in the United States, but education is needed so businesses become more comfortable on community property.
In the future, the tribe plans a resort hotel near its smaller casino on Indian Bend.
Adjacent to the casino is the tribe-owned Talking Stick Golf Course.
On the northern end of the community, at 90th Street, the tribe envisions a cluster of biomedical companies that would be an asset to health facilities on Scottsdale’s side of Loop 101.
Sounds like slot machines, blackjack and poker could someday be chump change.