Construction on a Tempe Marketplace-sized shopping and luxury apartment development in east Mesa will begin Tuesday with a ceremonial groundbreaking. Work is already under way on the 114-acre Mountain Vista Marketplace.
Workers began preparing the site at the northwest corner of Signal Butte Road and U.S. 60 in February, said project spokeswoman Stacy Pearson.
So far, the tenant list for Mountain Vista includes SuperTarget, Marshalls, Petco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant, Bank of America and Shoe Carnival. The first round of stores will open by spring 2009.
The center will also include 384 luxury apartments and two well-known hotels, which project organizers declined to reveal.
“It’s going to be a very dynamic place,” Pearson said.
If Mountain Vista were already open, Ernst & Young retail analyst Jay McIntosh said there wouldn’t be enough consumer dollars in the current economic slump to sustain another major shopping center.
McIntosh said the Valley is growing fast, and its demographics are attractive enough that Mountain Vista’s developers likely have their eyes toward the future.
“It’s a good long-term bet,” he said, but “it’s hard to imagine that there’s a short-term need for that.”
Chris Brady, Mesa’s city manager, said the east Mesa area is growing fast, and residents sorely need the kinds of services Mountain Vista is to provide.
“I think it will also pick up a lot of the activity (from) Pinal County, too,” he said.
Brady said the project and the recently built 208-bed Mountain Vista Medical Center show that east Mesa is still a hotbed of economic activity despite the current economic slump.
“It demonstrates that there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity out there,” he said.
Project organizers say Mountain Vista will generate millions for the city that will be funneled to police, fire and other municipal necessities. The developer, Tampa. Fla.-based DeBartolo Development, has not asked for any sales tax abatements, Pearson said.
Mountain Vista marks the first foray into Arizona by DeBartolo. The 60-year-old company’s portfolio boasts $1.8 billion in retail and residential centers that span the nation, from the East Coast to Hawaii.
The first of two construction phases on the 1.3 million-square-foot project will end in spring 2009. At that time, 700,000 square feet of retail space, including the center’s main anchor store, SuperTarget, will open. Mountain Vista will have about the same square footage as Tempe Marketplace, although apartments and hotels will account for about 600,000 square feet of the total. Tempe Marketplace, which sits on 120 acres, does not have apartments or plans for hotel space.
Pearson said the center will initially employ 700 mostly retail workers, Pearson said.