Sprouts to open May 4 in Queen Creek, others to follow in early summer

The far east Valley is getting an economic boost as a major retail development in Queen Creek is nearing completion.

The QC District is a 20-acre shopping center at the southeast corner of Rittenhouse and Ellsworth Loop road in downtown Queen Creek. Phase one occupies 16 acres of the parcel, according to the town of Queen Creek website.

In 2013 the town issued a request for proposals for the development of a mixed-use entertainment district on the town-owned 20-acre parcel in the Town Center. Three proposals were received and an extensive evaluation resulted in negotiations with Thompson Thrift. The purchase agreement was approved by Queen Creek Town Council on July 16, 2014, contingent upon an approved development agreement and approval of a Planned Area Development.

Both items were subsequently approved and the property closed in July 2015.

Sprouts Farmers Market, which anchors the center with HomeGoods, has already announced on its website and Facebook page it will open for business 7 a.m. Wednesday, May 4. And Ashlee Boyd, managing partner of Thompson Thrift, a full-service development and construction company dedicated to serving individuals and businesses and the leasing agent for the center, said many others will follow suit shortly after.

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“The majority of tenants will open within 30-90 days of Sprouts opening,” Mr. Boyd said during a phone interview. He said that includes Red Robin and HomeGoods. “They have broken ground on Red Robin and are working on framing right now for that building. It is planning to open in June, and HomeGoods in June or July as well,” he said.

Other stores coming to the QC District include Orangetheory Fitness, The Original ChopShop Co., Cafe Rio, Menchie’s. Mod Pizza, Pet Planet, Starbucks, Jersey Mike’s and Massage Green, Mr. Boyd said.

Mr. Boyd said he is negotiating with other companies to fill the four to five remaining spaces in the retail center.

He said he is working to land additional chef-driven, local restaurants, but noted that can be difficult to accomplish because local restaurants do not build as many outlets as the chain restaurants.

“We’re very much desiring to include local restaurants in the project but they are more challenging to secure because they’re not opening 30-40 stores a year,” he said. “The ChopShop is a huge first step. We talked to Pita Jungle and they toured the site but they decided to hold off for now.”

He called Queen Creek a “great trade area,” saying local and chain businesses will land first in Chandler and then make their way farther east.

“I think we have a great opportunity to land some of those retailers,” he said.

Work also is under way to secure a multi-activity entertainment center such as The Main Event to anchor phase 2 of QC District. Phoenix Commercial Advisors is leading that activity, Mr. Boyd said.
The Main Event offers a variety of activities such as bowling, arcade games, laser tag and kids birthday parties under one roof, according to its website: www.mainevent.com/birthdays/kids/tempe.

Sarah Langhorst from The Main Event’s marketing firm, SPM Communications, said during a phone interview the company’s expansion plans do not include a Queen Creek location. In Arizona, the firm has locations in Tempe and Avondale.

Finding an entertainment center has been difficult because Queen Creek does not have the population base to support some of the clients being approached, he said.

The updated population count for the town of Queen Creek as of Oct. 1, 2015, is 33,649, an approximate 27 percent increase, according to the special census taken last year.

“If you are going to invest millions of dollars, you want to be confident there will be enough revenue to support that investment,” Mr. Boyd said. “The feedback we’re getting is that Queen Creek isn’t quite large enough yet.”

Hotel companies have expressed interest in being part of phase 2, he said, however, the leasing agents prefer to hold off pursuing them until the entertainment center is secured.

“We don’t want to give up the land we might need for an entertainment center. It could be 25,000 to 50,000 square feet,” he said.

Phase two will occupy 4 acres of the retail center, according to the town’s website.
Some retailers building in phase one have been “pleasantly surprised” by all Queen Creek has to offer, Mr. Boyd said.

“Some like HomeGoods said there is more than meets the eye here,” he said.

Among the positives are a good location at the convergence of two major roads in the center of the town’s trade area, good growth and attracting patrons from the southeast, among others.

“For retailers looking to expand, one of the biggest attributes is that Queen Creek is underserved. There is a healthy demand for restaurants and retail. There are strong incomes.,” he said.

For more information, visit the town’s website.

Editor’s note: The March 23 issue of the Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent will look at economic development in San Tan Valley.

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