Town of Queen Creek becoming a development epicenter

An ALDI Food Market grocery store is coming to Queen Creek. (Submitted graphic)

A suburban feel with roots to a rural past are fueling development in Queen Creek along with land availability, local officials contend.

“People like to live here because it kind of feels like you are close to a lot of the conveniences that you have to the city but it still kind of feels like we have one foot in the country,” Brett Burningham, the town’s planning administrator and a resident of Queen Creek, said in an interview.

“We’re at the edge, it feels like we are far from freeways. There is kind of a rural theme. You can see the stars at night and there’s a lot of nice developments, but yeah, families seem to be flocking in,” he said.

“While we are still relatively new to the area, we love the small-town vibe in Queen Creek, even as the community continues to grow and develop. There is real potential here and we hope to grow along with the area,” Cory Whitsell, representative for Culver’s opening at the northwest corner of Ironwood and Ocotillo roads, said. “Ultimately, we felt the Queen Creek and San Tan Valley areas provided the best opportunity for us, both as business owners and a family.”

General Plan

State law requires cities and municipalities in Arizona to have a revised general plan in place every 10 years. The plan approved in 2008 serves as the town’s road map to guide development.

Voters overwhelmingly approved an update to the Queen Creek General Plan in the Proposition 405 all-mail election ending May 15, according to unofficial results. A total of 3,086 (84 percent) voted yes and 603 (16 percent) voted no, according to results on the Maricopa County recorder’s website.

“When you talk about Queen Creek used to be rural and now look what’s going on, that’s all based on the General Plan. So it’s all based on the residents’ vision for how Queen Creek should grow. That’s how this has happened,” Marnie Schubert, the town’s communications, marketing and recreation director, said of the large amount of development in Queen Creek.
“We still seek to embrace the agricultural heritage that we’ve had and it does still feel like we live in the country in many of the areas throughout town,” Mr. Burningham said.

“If you are in a wash, you would never know you are in the middle of a town. It doesn’t feel that way, with the bunnies and all of the animals,” Ms. Schubert said.

Building permits

Queen Creek has issued 241 building permits for single-family homes in the first three months of this year, which is on pace to beat the total numbers for 2017 (851) and potentially match or surpass 2016 (1,098), according to a spreadsheet provided by the town.

Full-year data includes the following building permits issued: 2015, 987; 2014, 698; and 2013, 645.

“When you look at the number of building permits over the last three years and at how many come in each month, it’s been overwhelming,” Mr. Burningham said.

A real-estate broker familiar with the area said affordable land and its availability are pluses for Queen Creek.

“It’s the price of land,” Liz Harris, designated broker of Liz Harris Realty in Chandler, said in a phone interview. Her website is http://lizharrisrealtor.com.

“In Chandler, all of our in-fill land has pretty much been purchased or acquired by builders, so the next step out from Chandler/Gilbert is Queen Creek,” she said.

“And Queen Creek, a lot of that land was obtained when the market was down. And now Queen Creek – especially with the extension of the (State Route) 24 – is basically the next hot spot,” Ms. Harris, a member of the board of directors for the South East Valley Association of Realtors, said.

“So as the economy is booming, as the housing market is booming, we tend – just like we did in 2005 – to kind of scoot out to the outskirts a little more and right now Queen Creek is one of the hot zones,” she said.

“Without doubt, the entire southeast Valley is an amazing place to live. High-quality of life,” she said.

Housing subdivisions

Homes are being constructed in several subdivisions in Queen Creek.

The town council recently has approved cases such as for:

  • West Park Estates, a 117-lot housing subdivision on approximately 51 acres at the northeast and northwest corners of the 196th Street alignment and Ocotillo Road.
  • Fulton Homes at Barney Farms, a 1,702-lot housing subdivision generally between Meridian Road, Queen Creek Road, the Signal Butte Road alignment and approximately 770 feet south of Germann Road.
  • Harvest Queen Creek (formerly Meridian Crossing), 1,244 lots on approximately 414 acres at the southwest corner of Riggs Road alignment and Gary Road (Meridian Road alignment).
    Housing subdivisions under construction include:
  • A Hill Country rendering of a Shea Homes house in Gateway Quarter, Germann and Ellsworth. (Submitted photo)

    Gateway Quarter, Germann and Ellsworth, from Shea Homes.

  • Ovation at Meridian, between Signal Butte, Queen Creek, Germann and Meridian, a William Lyon Homes development, which includes single-family homes and a gated, age-restricted community, the first age 55 and over development for Queen Creek, Mr. Burningham said.

“A lot of big new developments all going forward,” Mr. Burningham said of the housing subdivisions.

“In addition to the residential growth, we are seeing a tremendous amount of new commercial activity as well,” he said.

Lowes Home Improvement

More than 350,000 square feet of commercial development is to be constructed at one of the gateways to Queen Creek, at the northwest corner of Queen Creek and Ellsworth roads.

A rezoning for Queen Creek Crossing to general commercial was approved by the town council on May 2 and includes a 36-acre Lowe’s power center.

“There’s a big office component there and restaurant pads and retail shops and a variety of new commercial there,” Mr. Burningham said.

The development includes approximately 370,000 square feet for commercial users, including the Lowes home-improvement business with outdoor displays, in-line shops, a two-story office/retail building, three fast-food-type restaurants and three shops/pads, Christine Sheehy, principal planner for the town, said at the council meeting.

Queen Creek Crossing is proposed to be developed in two phases, she said in a memo to the council. The first phase consists of approximately 28 acres at the north side of the project and is designed as a traditional shopping center. It includes Lowe’s and the majority of the in-line anchor and junior buildings along the west side of the project backing 206th Place.

The second phase consists of approximately 8 acres at the southern third of the project with mixed-use office and retail building(s) at the northwest corner of Ellsworth and Queen Creek Roads. The second phase will be developed as market demands dictate, she said.

Lowes operates or services more than 2,370 home-improvement and hardware stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to its website.

ALDI Food Market grocery store

East of the Lowes, a neighborhood-type grocery store is to be constructed, Mr. Burningham said.

“Also, just across the street to the east, we’re working on another development; there’s an ALDI grocery store that’s being identified in that,” he said.

The project, The Shops at Terravilla, is to be on the northeast corner of Ellsworth and Queen Creek, he said.

“And they’re newly expanding into the Arizona market. The ALDI chain, it’s a nationwide chain. I think they are a German-owned company,” Ms. Schubert said.

“I think they got some of their ideas from the Trader Joe’s model,” Mr, Burningham said.

It will be the town’s first smaller, neighborhood grocery store.

“We have Bashas’ and Safeway and Walmart and Super Target and all of that, but this is the first of this style,” Ms. Schubert said.

ALDI operates more than 1,600 stores in 35 states, according to its website.

Hampton Inn and Suites

Two restaurant pads are to be constructed next to a Hampton Inn and Suites that should be breaking ground this summer.

“That’s at QC District, just behind Sprouts, adjacent to Rittenhouse Road. Beautiful hotel, about four stories. It will be a nice addition to that center,” Mr. Burningham said.

It will be the town’s first hotel, but not the first place to stay in Queen Creek.

The Cozy Peach at Schnepf Farm has vintage Airstream trailers. (Submitted photo)

“Yes, the first hotel, because we have The Cozy Peach down at Schnepf Farm, which is vintage Airstream trailers that have been renovated. It opened in March. I think they have eight trailers, so they have started renting those out, but this is our first hotel. It’s really cute down there,” Ms. Schubert said.

Hampton Inn and Suites has more than 2,000 locations in North America, Europe and India, according to its website.

Possible development

A Wienerschnitzel Hot Dog Restaurant may be coming to Queen Creek. (Submitted photo)

Wienerschnitzel Hot Dog Restaurant may go into Heritage Square, southeast corner of South Ellsworth Road and East Rittenhouse Road, Mr. Burningham said.

Dutch Bros may go near ALDI Food Market, he said.

Soon to open

Restaurants and retail that are to open soon, according to the town’s website, include:

  • Safeway and Culver’s, northwest corner of Ironwood and Ocotillo roads.
  • Pressed For Time Dry Cleaners, in Queen Creek Marketplace, southwest corner of Rittenhouse and Ellsworth Loop Roads.
  • Salad and Go, Sodalicious, Palette Collective and Firestone Automotive, in Heritage Square, southeast corner of South Ellsworth Road and East Rittenhouse Road.
  • Nando’s Mexican Cafe, Planet Fitness, Five Guys and ATI Physical Therapy, in Queen Creek Fiesta, southeast corner of South Ellsworth Loop and East Maya Road.
  • Heart to Soul Reiki, 22033 S. Ellsworth Road.
  • Greulich’s Automotive, 18704 E. Rittenhouse Road.
  • Mountain America Credit Union, south of the southwest corner of Ellsworth Loop and Ocotillo, opens June 4.

Now open

Restaurants and retail that have recently opened, according to the town’s website, include:

  • Pita Jungle, Sauce Pizza and Wine, V’s Barbershop, 360 Physical Therapy and Ahipoki Bowl in Queen Creek Marketplace, on the southwest corner of Rittenhouse and Ellsworth Loop roads,
  • Someburros and Raising Cane’s, in Queen Creek Fiesta, southeast corner of Ellsworth Loop Road and Maya Road.
  • Wendy’s, in Heritage Square, southeast corner of South Ellsworth Road and East Rittenhouse Road.
  • Bahama Bucks, north of the northwest corner of Rittenhouse Road and Ocotillo Road.

Editor Richard Dyer can be contacted via e-mail at rdyer@newszap.com or at twitter.com/rhdyer or facebook.com/RichardDyerJournalist

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment