Chandler concerned about bargain stores - East Valley Tribune: Business

Chandler concerned about bargain stores

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Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 10:12 pm | Updated: 1:10 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

About a half-dozen thrift and dollar stores dot Arizona Avenue from Ray Road to north of Warner Road.

That's just about a one-mile stretch, and the rise of the shops in the area has Chandler Councilwoman Patti Bruno worried.

"Arizona Avenue's supposed to be the gateway to the city," Bruno said. "I just don't want thrift stores on every corner just like I don't want a Walgreens on every corner. It's too much of a good thing."

City staff is working on addressing Bruno's concern by looking into ways the City Council can have a say into which tenants move into a shopping center.

The city may be able to create a permit or stipulations regarding stores that sell used merchandise, said Doug Ballard, the city's planning and development director. Any new rules would probably not affect existing stores.

However, Ballard added, for some residents thrift and dollar stores are the best place to shop and the city wouldn't want to take those opportunities away.

Bruno said thrift stores themselves aren't a problem, but when they become clustered in one area they can hurt the property value or appearance of a shopping center and nearby neighborhoods. They need to be spread throughout the city instead of concentrated in the older parts along Arizona Avenue and Alma School Road, Bruno said.

"Even if we don't have a total say on the outcome, we should have some input," she said. "The residents around there should have input. It's our community."

Several business managers along Arizona Avenue said they |don't want the government to make such regulations. Even those who would like to see more variety in the shops in the area say they don't want the city government to get involved.

"Thrift stores are moving in left and right, and they don't help my business a bit," said Bud Ludwig, owner of Nu Var Tanning, a stone's throw from a thrift and a dollar store near Warner Road on Arizona Avenue. "But it's up to the landlord and businesses."

Guadalupe Jimenez, manager of the thrift store Savers, said, "If you want to open a business (and) as long as you provide employment for other people, then it's good."

It's hard to find tenants for an old shopping strip, said Michael Pollack, president of Michael A. Pollack Real Estate Investment. Pollack just bought the North Park Plaza at Arizona Avenue and Ray Road, which includes the 99 Cent Superstore.

He said he can understand the city's concerns, but the problem is often the worn-down look of old shopping centers rather than the tenants themselves. Pollack said he's planned a major redevelopment of North Park Plaza.

Bruno also said aesthetics is important. Sometimes it looks as if Chandler has higher standards for new parts of the city than the older areas, she said.

"I don't want any part of our city to look better or have better amenities than another," Bruno said. "Everyone should have a nice place to shop or go to."

Bruno, like other council members, hope the city's new Commercial Reinvestment Program can help with aesthetics.

The recently approved program offers grants to shopping center owners on Arizona Avenue or Alma School Road to improve the look of buildings, such as facades and landscaping. Owners must match the grant, and the program has a $150,000 budget. Already, the city has received seven applications — one from Pollack — for the program, said Garrett Newland, Chandler's economic development director.

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