New centers of retail and housing growth are starting to pop up in Flagstaff, but not in the usual places.
According to the book, “Mountain Town,” Downtown Flagstaff was the hub of business for the community since before 1897. In the 1960s, stores started moving out of the downtown area because of a lack of space to expand and parking. They were replaced beginning in the 1990s with a variety of boutiques and small restaurants.
Flagstaff’s new business hubs started congregating on Fourth Street, East Route 66, South Milton Road, the Flagstaff Mall and Woodlands Village Boulevard.
The mall still has room to expand, but for now at least one new center for shopping is growing closer to the downtown area.
Another is ready to build for the first time on the south side of East Route 66 in the space opened up by the construction of the Fourth Street overpass.
And a third is set for Country Club Drive and Soliere Avenue.
APARTMENTS OVER STORES
RED Development is starting construction on the first phase of the Village at Aspen Place. Perhaps drawn by the more than 5 million tourists that visit each year and more than 20,000 students at Northern Arizona University, the complex is located near Butler Avenue and Lone Tree Road. The project includes 222 one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments situated over more than 30,000 square feet of retail. It also includes a five-level parking garage.
The first series of apartments are expected to be finished in the summer of 2015 with three additional phases to be completed in September 2016 and January 2016.
At the same time, RED continues to expand the shopping options at its retail shopping center, Aspen Place at the Sawmill. The shopping plaza is expected to have more than 135,000 square feet of retail and restaurants when it is completely built out.
It currently houses shops and restaurants such as Whole Foods, Chico’s, Cultured Yogurt and Coffee House, Flagstaff Face & Body, Flagstaff Jean Co., Pita Jungle, Someburros and Wildflower Bread Company.
It saw REI move in to an anchor store location in April and Alliance Bank arrive at its new location in June. Wildflower Bread Company has plans to expand its location at Aspen Pace by 500 feet and Francesca’s is planning to open shop next to Flagstaff Jean Company. RED is also expecting Eddie Bauer to open its new 4,700 square-foot store in October.
“RED has an excellent track record for identifying and acting on opportunities in vibrant markets similar to Flagstaff and we see a strong future for what this property brings to the City of Flagstaff and future economic growth.” RED Development Executive Vice President of Finance Brett Heron said.
TRAX BY THE TRACKS
At the same time, near Fourth Street, plans are starting to solidify on a 33-acre commercial project dubbed “Trax” that will be sandwiched between Route 66 and the train tracks.
Evergreen Development Services and Investments is working on an agreement with the city to purchase the property and install between 100,000 to 120,000 square feet of commercial shops, restaurants and office space on the narrow, triangular wedge of land.
Evergreen has agreed to purchase the three parcels of land from the city for more than $3 million. The city acquired the property after BNSF moved the railroad tracks and the city built the Fourth Street railroad overpass. The amount is less than half of the $9 million Hawkins Companies of Boise, Idaho, offered the city for the land in 2008. The Hawkins deal fell apart in 2010 after the real estate market crashed.
Project Manager Laura Ortiz told residents at a public meeting in February that the company did not plan to bring in any big box stores, such as Walmart, because the site is too narrow. However, the company has received several letters of interest from companies looking to move into the Flagstaff market. She did not give details on what stores were requesting information on the project.
Ortiz was not available for comment for this story.
SHOPS, RESTAURANTS AND OFFICES
Vintage Partners, another commercial developer, is looking to build on 95.5 acres of land near Country Club Drive and Soliere Avenue. The project includes 39.5 acres of shops, restaurants, and offices. Another 35.8 acres are being reserved for open space to accommodate the Rio de Flag flood basin. The remaining 17.2 acres consist of housing.
Vintage has not announced what stores will populate the new development nor what kinds of housing will be built on the site.
Vintage also owns the property in west Flagstaff on which Harkins Theaters sits. In 2013, the city announced a land deal that would allow the Arizona Department of Transportation to move its Flagstaff Motor Vehicles Division offices from its current location on Milton Road to the current location of Harkins Theater.
The move would allow the city to extend Beulah Boulevard behind the old ADOT complex and connect it with a realigned University Avenue.
Vintage agreed to build a larger movie theater for Harkins at a new location. That location has yet to be announced. However, several years ago Harkins considered moving to a location behind the Flagstaff Mall. Representatives for Vintage were not available for comment.
NEW HOUSING NEAR MALL
Flagstaff Mall & Marketplace isn’t about to give up its shopping crown. The mall opened The Marketplace, a 248,000 square foot and more than $40 million expansion and renovation in 2007. The expansion brought in Old Navy, Linens-N-Things, Marshalls, Petco, Cost Plus World Market and Home Depot. Representatives from Flagstaff Mall did not return phone calls.
The Flagstaff Auto Park moved in the same year and currently includes dealers for Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler and Volkswagen.
Elevation Luxury Apartments across the street from The Marketplace moved into the area in 2012. It contains 288 apartments that range in size from one to three bedrooms.
Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 556-2253.