Big-box retail being recruited to Tucson's southeast side

2014-05-27T00:00:00Z Big-box retail being recruited to Tucson's southeast sideBy Gabriela Rico Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Optimism about the growing number of residents settling on Tucson’s southeast side is prompting the development of several “power centers” along the corridor.

Similar to the Tucson Spectrum mall on Irvington Road near Interstate 19 or Tucson Marketplace at the Bridges on Kino Parkway and Interstate 10, power centers are large retail sites with big anchor stores that draw shoppers from as far away as 10 miles.

Think Walmart, Costco or Home Depot.

Nestled right along the interstate, at least three projects are currently recruiting retailers to developments on I-10 and Wilmot, Valencia and Houghton roads.

The fall opening of a south gate to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has added to the number of commuters who pass by on their way home.

The gate opens on Valencia Road.

Base officials estimate that, for employees who live in Rita Ranch, the south gate saves about 20 minutes on commute time.

Enough time to run a quick errand?

That’s what developers hope.

“The appeal of the area is primarily because of the interstate’s existing traffic and potential for future growth,” said Ken Gatt, director of leasing for Evergreen, which is developing Valencia Crossing, a 25-acre site on Valencia Road, east of I-10.

Nancy McClure, first vice president and retail specialist with CBRE, is marketing the Black Hawk project, a 100-acre development that straddles I-10 at Wilmot Road.

She said the housing projects popping up in that area are appealing to retailers, as is the housing boom in Vail.

“All retailers look for rooftops,” she said. “They look for an area where there’s a need to be there.”

Richmond America and KB Homes both have housing projects underway along the southeast I-10 corridor catering to workers from Raytheon Missile Systems, the University of Arizona Tech Park, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson International Airport and the prisons.

A 2,500-home project, La Estancia, at Wilmot Road and I-10, also is underway.

“Because of the growth that area has experienced, it’s really underserved from a retail standpoint,” Alan Tanner, retail principal with Bourn Co., said of interest in Houghton Town Center, a 60-acre development east of I-10.

“Retailers are trying to respond to those needs.”

While no official announcement has been made by any major retailer, talk of a new Sam’s Club, WinCo Foods or Walmart has been tossed around.

Gatt said he wouldn’t be surprised to hear one of those big-box retailers make an announcement for one of the sites soon.

“When one of those big players comes to town, it’s always exciting.”

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