More shops and offices are on the horizon for Gilbert, as commercial builders chug away at new developments despite the slowed real estate market.
More than 50 projects - totaling $700 million - are in the works, said Dan Henderson, the city's economic development manager. Much of that growth is sprouting along the Santan Freeway stretch of Loop 202.
"It just continues to flow right along that corridor," Henderson said.
Earlier this month, Valley developer Grasser Investments broke ground on a 90,000-square-foot, three-story building that will have retail and office space as well as a fitness center.
Located on the northeast corner of Val Vista Drive and Loop 202, the $23 million San Tan Commons will house a Mountainside Fitness center on the second level with the company's headquarters on the third floor.
In the past several years, the high-profile corner has also seen the addition of Mercy Gilbert Medical Center and the Santan Motorplex.
"Val Vista was kind of an underserved area until the 202 was complete," said Jim Butwin, a managing member of Tempe-based Grasser.
Butwin said he expects the project will take nearly a year to build and will open in spring 2009. The bottom floor of the building will have shops like a tanning salon, a hair or nail salon or a nutrition shop, he said.
Butwin added that the real estate market will likely improve by the time the building is finished. In 12 months, "the economy is going to be very different," he said. "It's still a fast-growing community. It's still underserved in a lot of aspects."
The mixed-use development idea is gaining popularity in Gilbert, said Eric Larson, vice president of business development for Scottsdale-based A.R. Mays Construction.
San Tan Commons will be the second project the company has built at the intersection. This month, workers completed construction on Copper Point - a mix of shops and office condominiums - at the southwest corner.
"The concept of mixed use has become prevalent in the past five years," Larson said.
He added that mixed-use developments will account for roughly 30 percent of the construction firm's business this year - helping to garner record-high revenue despite the commercial real estate slowdown.
The market has definitely slowed as lenders have pulled back, said Adam Mays, president of A.R. Mays. But Mays said he hopes it will start to pick up early next year.
Money is harder to come by, Larson said, but "good projects will find a way to get financed."