Eight years after RED Development stepped in to buy a portion of Aspen Place at the Sawmill when the original developer defaulted, the commercial spaces in the shopping center are nearing 100 percent occupancy.
Four businesses opened in the complex over the summer and six more are scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2018, Tessa Bajema, a spokeswoman for RED Development, said in a press release.
RED Development bought the northern portion of the development in 2010, which originally had about 45,000 feet of retail space, said Brandon Hoag, the senior vice president of management at RED Development. The developer then sold a portion of that land to the developer of the apartments, called The Village at Aspen Place.
The developer of the apartments created retail spaces on the first floor of the residential mixed use building, which they then sold back to RED Development to lease out.
“It has been a very successful year leasing-wise,” Hoag said. “We have tenants that have recently opened and we have spaces that are finishing up construction.”
Hoag said the company has tried to be selective in choosing tenants, some of whom are new to the Flagstaff market.
“In this case we want to make sure we are putting the right tenant mix in place,” he said. “We need to make sure we are not leasing to competing uses, and many of the places are unique to the market.”
Some recent openings in the complex include Barre 3, Orange Theory Fitness, Local Juicery, Brush and Board, McSweeney Salon and Lia Leaf Tea House. Scheduled to open soon are Whisk and Whiskey Restaurant, Café Paleo Brio, HuHot Mongolian Grill and Ahi Poke Bowl.
The company has made a “conscious” effort to find businesses, including from Phoenix and Sedona, that are looking to expand to Flagstaff to lease in Aspen Place, Hoag said.
“The turnaround of Aspen Place is a great example of bringing the right mix of retailers to meet a community’s needs and we are very proud to say that many of the retailers we have brought in have been brand new to the market,” Mike Ebert, managing partner at RED Development said in a press release. “As a result, the center will be at 100 percent occupancy very soon and we understand that the apartments are also nearing the fully leased mark at 95 percent occupancy.”
Hoag said the apartment complex has been a “huge complement” to the commercial uses at the site.
The developer completed a build-to-suit lease with REI in 2013, and later sold some of the commercial parcels in the front of the development to Alliance Bank of Arizona, Pacific Dental Services and Dutch Bros. Coffee.
Hoag said the Flagstaff community was nervous about a national chain like REI coming to town at first, but many people have since embraced the store and its community contributions.
“Generally we feel like we’ve recovered from the recession,” Hoag said. “We’re really excited about the tenants that are there.”
RED Development bought its share of the site in 2010, six years after the Valley-based Aspen Group bought the site and planned the development. In 2007, the city council approved creating an improvement district there, and authorized $19 million in city-backed bonds for streets and improvements.
In 2010, Aspen Group defaulted on the southern portion of the property and the city assumed control of the site, which it then sold to Campus Crest Development, the developer of The Grove at Flagstaff.
When RED Development acquired its portion in 2010, it agreed to take over about $9 million in bond payments over the next 23 years.