West Valley developments aim to keep residents from commuting

GOODYEAR – West Valley government and business leaders are developing shopping, entertainment and job hubs in a continued effort to keep residents from being siphoned to other areas in the Valley.

Storefronts with medical centers in Goodyear, restaurants along Bell Road, and factories placed by once-empty fields along the Loop 303 and Thomas Road are among projects on the books.

“We’ve got quality housing. We’ve got a quality workforce. We’ve got a great quality of life and fun amenities to enjoy,” said Sintra Hoffman, president and chief executive officer for the Western Maricopa Coalition (WESTMARC), an economic development advocate for the region. “We really see ourselves as an all-inclusive community where we have everything to offer.”

Hoffman and other leaders are struggling to combat the longtime reality that most residents commute to Phoenix, Scottsdale and the southeast Valley for jobs and often travel elsewhere for shopping and entertainment.

As Arizona and the rest of the country emerges from the recession, construction is popping up, developers are tucking restaurants and stores into strip malls and building on large land parcels. Some examples:

• In Glendale, Top Golf, an entertainment and driving range, will become the third of the franchise to open in the Valley. And, according to the Associated Press, a new Ikea store is planned for the city by 2020. Those businesses will join Westgate Center, Tanger Outlets and a soon-to-be expanded Desert Diamond West Valley Casino.
• In Goodyear, the Dick’s Sporting Goods, REI and Sub-Zero factory stores will have the company of neighboring businesses in the PV 303 project for industrial, office and retail space. A movie theater, Burlington Coat Factory and restaurants have opened in recent years along Estrella Parkway and McDowell Road but a long-anticipated mall has languished.
• In Surprise, retail strip malls are lining Bell Road. One near Bell Road and Bullard Avenue Drive will include a Starbucks, Raising Cane’s and other chain restaurants.  

Hoffman and Jeanine Jerkovic, economic development director for Surprise, said they want the region to eventually become a one-stop shop where residents can eat, shop, work and play.

“They are traveling east,” Hoffman said. “They’re on I-10. Our goal is to market this talent, this asset we have so that we can better attract businesses to come here.”

Sun City resident Bob Kolar, who has lived in the West Valley for decades, said he remembers when Bell Road was a dirt road. He watched as the Loop 101 was built 29 years ago.

Now, with traffic clogging roads, he said more shopping dispersed throughout the West Valley will better serve neighboring residents.

Ultimately, leaders said, the goal is to bring jobs.

The UPS package facility, which will be part of the PV 303 project, will bring an estimated 1,500 jobs to Goodyear, according to the developer’s website.  

Jerkovic estimates more than one million people will call the West Valley home in the next decade.

There were about 7,000 Surprise residents in 1990, a number that jumped to nearly 31,000 a decade later and tripled to nearly 118,000 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“That’s why we’ve built a foundation for an even bigger economy which we are well positioned to capture,” Jerkovic said