Planned office park could employ 9,000 - East Valley Tribune: News

Planned office park could employ 9,000

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Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 4:53 pm | Updated: 3:22 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Plans are afoot to transform the 152-acre former Motorola site on Chandler's Price Road technology corridor into a large office park called Continuum, capable of employing up to 9,000 people, according to some estimates.

The property's owner, Capital Commercial Investments, has asked city officials to rezone the site, on the southeast corner of Price and Germann roads, to raise the maximum allowable building height from 45 feet to 150 feet, said Jeff Kurtz, planning and zoning director. The Planning & Zoning Commission is slated to consider the request on Feb. 17.

"It's a wonderful asset to have," Kurtz said. "The whole Price Road corridor is a unique employment center for Chandler. This just continues that momentum."

Michael Withey, a lawyer with the Phoenix-based firm Withey Morris, which represents Capital Commercial Investments, said plans call for renovating the existing building formerly occupied by Motorola as well as adding several additional buildings for research and development and for offices. It could take five to 10 years to complete the project, but the office park ultimately could employ up to 9,000 people, he said.

"I think it's very significant for Chandler and the entire Valley," Withey said.

The owners hope to begin construction on interior roads, utilities and landscaping this year, he said.

"They want to be quite aggressive about it," Withey said.

Kurtz was more reserved in his estimate of the site's employment potential, putting the possible number of jobs there at up to 5,000. The property is capable of housing up to 2.8 million square feet of commercial space, he said.

"It's going to depend on the density of the development and what type of users go there," Kurtz said.

Plans call for rezoning the property to allow buildings up to 150 feet tall along Price Road on the site's western edge, then transitioning down to 90 feet in height in the middle of the property and retaining the 45-foot height restriction on the eastern edge to protect nearby residential neighborhoods, he said.

Withey said the owners eventually plan to construct six- to eight-story office buildings along Price Road.

"We would be building to users and tenants as they come into the marketplace," he said.

It's unclear yet how much the developers plan to invest in the project, but it's expected to be a significant amount, Withey said.

"It's going to be a very big number," he said.

Continuum would be aimed at creating the high-paying, high-tech jobs that Chandler officials have long sought to bring to the city, Withey said.

Chandler officials previously had eyed the Motorola site for a $5.7 million biotechnology business "incubator" to take advantage of the Price Road corridor's technology infrastructure. But that idea was dropped late last year in favor of another site owned by Capital Commercial Investments southwest of McClintock Drive and Chandler Boulevard in west Chandler.

Renovations have been under way for several weeks at the city's Innovations Technology Incubator/Accelerator, in a former Intel research and development facility at 145 S. 79th St. The facility's purpose is to provide research space to biotech startups in fields such as software design, engineering, biosciences, nanotechnology and sustainable technologies.

The incubator provides space to allow them to take a concept from a scientific idea to a marketable product and to find investors. Successful companies would remain in the city and add to its employment and economic base, city officials have said.

The Intel site was chosen because it already had technology infrastructure in place such as gas lines, compressed air, vacuum lines and clean rooms, and because officials determined that the labs at the Motorola site were too deep within the core of that building to be useful, officials have said.

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