Downtown Queen Creek has endless growth potential

Queen Creek Vice Mayor Dawn Oliphant

Queen Creek Vice Mayor Dawn Oliphant

 

The town of Queen Creek is a growing community, and it has been exciting to experience this small farming community develop into a vibrant area that maintains our deep rooted heritage.

The town has made intentional investments, not only to enhance the quality of life for residents, but also to create and encourage opportunities for private investment.

A successful downtown serves as the heart of a community. As a town council, we recognize the importance of offering a fast-paced pulse with shopping, businesses, dining and community events.

We continue to invest in Town Center, and it is developing into a defining focal point of the community.

Government alone cannot create a lively, successful town center that attracts residents and visitors.

We can however lay a solid foundation, investing in infrastructure, programs and events, that will enhance opportunities for private investment.

Over the last 10 years, the town has invested $115 million in transportation related projects. In 2008, Ellsworth Loop was constructed spurring the development of the Queen Creek Marketplace.

In 2014, Ellsworth Road was reconstructed from Ocotillo Road to Rittenhouse Road with a pedestrian element including arroyo-themed sidewalks, benches, pedestrian lighting, landscaping and stamped roadway pavement.

And we’re not done. We have over $30 million in roadway improvements that are being designed, under construction or recently finished.

For example, Rittenhouse Road was expanded from Queen Creek Marketplace to Sossaman with curbs, sidewalks and landscaping. Ellsworth Road is being expanded from Germann to Ryan, and Ocotillo Road will be expanded from Ellsworth Loop to Heritage Loop.

Our 10-year Capital Improvement Program identifies $145 million in roadway improvements, and we are committed to funding transportation needs for our residents and to foster economic growth.

In addition to widening Ocotillo Road from Ellsworth Loop to Heritage Loop, we are constructing a park on the northwest corner of Ocotillo and Ellsworth.

At the core of Town Center, the park will include an iconic clock tower, water feature and a tribute to the town’s history with a plaque that honors our Founding Fathers. It will serve as an open public space, hosting a variety of social events and providing space for residents and visitors to embrace the beauty and excitement of Town Center.

As a council, we know increasing events and festivals held in Town Center provide an opportunity to increase exposure to the area, including our local businesses.

Last year, we launched the Festival Partnership Program to attract festivals and events to Queen Creek. The program aims to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for residents while reducing the risk for production companies.

Providing adequate roadways, and attracting people to Town Center is vital to the success of our downtown, but so is preserving the quaint charm of our original buildings.

The Façade Improvement Program provides assistance to commercial buildings in Town Center with items like paint, landscaping, exterior signage and display lighting.

While we value the character and history of our established buildings, we are very excited about the recent opening of two new businesses in new buildings — Starbucks and Sprouts. Thompson Thrift broke ground in 2015 on the QC District, a 20-acre development on the southwest corner of Rittenhouse and Ellsworth Loop.

We look forward to the additional businesses that will be opening soon as part of the first phase.

Thompson Thrift is a great example of the private sector capitalizing on the various investments made by the town to ease economic development in Town Center.

To further ease the experience for potential investors and businesses, we launched InvesttheQC.com, a microsite providing a visual representation of Town Center’s future potential.

The site is designed to provide detailed information about investment opportunities with available space, 3-D renderings and pictures.

As a town, we have made substantial investments in Queen Creek’s roadways, initiated programs to draw people to Town Center, and encourage investment into existing buildings in the area.

I challenge the private sector to step up and bring new investment to Town Center; use the tools and opportunities that we have established to be a part of this unique, growing community.

Our population increased from over 26,000 in 2010 to nearly 34,000 in 2015, and we anticipate our population nearly doubling in the next decade.

Town Center will continue to experience growth as the area is enhanced with improvements to existing infrastructure and new development.

The time to invest in Queen Creek is now.

Editor’s note: Dawn Oliphant is vice mayor of the town of Queen Creek.

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