Ryan Stanton, rstanton@ExplorerNews.com
Dec. 28, 2005 - The Marana Town Council unanimously approved a large commercial development near Tangerine Road and Interstate 10 last week. Known as the Tangerine Commerce Park, it could be one of several commercial projects soon to rise from the dust along I-10 in northern Marana.
Council members approved rezoning 494 acres immediately west of I-10 and south of Tangerine Road to accommodate the commerce park, also creating a new specific plan that allows sand and gravel extraction and about 112 acres of other commercial property.
Barbara Berlin, the town's planning director, said this is a "critical project" for the town's economic development and growth. Scarce commercial development has been seen in northern Marana, where homes by the thousands already are being built.
Town Manager Mike Reuwsaat expressed excitement that Cottonwood Properties, developer of Dove Mountain, is now also venturing west of I-10. The Tangerine Road interchange is expected to be a prime location for commercial development in Marana.
"We're really pleased to get Cottonwood Properties on this side of the highway," Reuwsaat said. "With everything else in the area, this is going to be a very exciting corner."
Mayor Ed Honea said in an interview last week that shopping mall developer Westcor has taken steps toward purchasing the large swath of land immediately north of the Tangerine Commerce Park. That property is wedged between Gladden Farms and I-10, north of Tangerine Road.
"Westcor has bought some property at Tangerine and the freeway and they're going to build a mall there," Honea said. "That's a pretty big deal. They have signed the papers."
Westcor could not be reached for comment by press time because it was closed in observance of Christmas.
The Tangerine Commerce Park is intended to accommodate regional and local commercial businesses, professional offices and limited manufacturing, according to plans presented to the council. Cottonwood Properties and the Planning Center were in attendance representing the property owners, CEMEX and BCW Inc., at last week's meeting.
About 8.5 acres of land in the project are being dedicated for the Santa Cruz River linear park. The town also is requiring the developer to donate right-of-way to accommodate the east-west alignment of Tangerine Farms Road, a loop route scheduled for construction in 2006. The plan also shows an extension of Tangerine Road to the south.
Strong rumors have circulated that Cottonwood Properties plans to enter into a deal soon to develop a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dove Mountain. Such a project would be a substantial benefit to the town, Honea said, though the developer has remained tight-lipped thus far.
"We haven't talked a whole lot about the Ritz Carlton," Honea said, though he added, "It's basically a done deal."
"They're actually starting to turn in papers on that. That will be in 2006 really," he said.
In other action at last week's meeting, the council unanimously approved re-submitted plans for a commercial subdivision known as Continental Ranch Retail Center-Westside, located at the southwest corner of Arizona Pavilions Drive and Cortaro Road. The project was originally approved in 2002 and represents the second phase of Continental Ranch Development's commercial "power center."
The site is expected to include an In-N-Out Burger, Panda Express, Chili's restaurant and several retail shops. Three access routes from Arizona Pavilions Drive and two from Cortaro Road will serve the development.
The town is requiring developer Greg Wexler to contribute $40,000 for two future traffic studies at intersections along Cortaro Road, according to a development agreement. The money must be submitted to the town prior to the issuance of any certificates of occupancy in the development.
The council also approved a 41-lot residential subdivision located on 58 acres west of Silverbell Road and 1,000 feet south of Ina Road. About 70 percent of the site will remained undisturbed, according to plans presented to the council.
The smallest lot size will be about 21,000 square feet, with an average lot size of about 33,000 square feet throughout the development.