Maricopa buys parcel near Heritage District

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The city is purchasing 4.1 acres north of Honeycutt Avenue and east of John Wayne Parkway south of the overpass near the Heritage District.

The transaction, valued at $3.24 million, will give the city marketable land in central Maricopa it can use to attract development to the Heritage District. The city’s Development Services Manager, Rudy Lopez, confirmed the city will be marketing the plot for mixed-use development.

The city has long envisioned that area as mixed-use featuring retail, restaurants, housing and walkable areas. It also would potentially tie into a large retail development the city is planning for southeast of the overpass.

City Manager Rick Horst has confirmed such a project is coming near the southeastern end of the overpass – soon. He said in March a developer is in place and “dozens” of shops and retailers have signed letters of intent, with other joining the center at a rapid pace.

“Timelines move and this is not locked in, but we think they could start (construction) as early as September or October,” Horst said at the time. “It’s in the area we call the New Maricopa Station, all that dirt on the east side of John Wayne Parkway.”

That area has been a prime target for commercial development for years. Speculation about major retailers such as Target, Kohl’s, Home Depot and Lowe’s have been rampant, but the city has remained tight-lipped regarding specific retailers.

Horst did whet shoppers’ appetites, however, by saying developers have been signing letters of intent with national and regional tenants for the project, and that there is tremendous interest in the site.

The project would enable the city to extend its primary retail center along John Wayne Parkway south of the overpass by connecting the two via the Heritage District.

Horst has envisioned such an area for years, proposing major upgrades that include creating a pedestrian-friendly area and an open-air marketplace that would encourage mixed-use development. He has talked about an area featuring ground-floor storefronts with a residences above them as well as small retail shops at street level with businesses that do not depend on walk-in traffic on the second floor, and an apartment on the third.

Such a project would give the area a throwback feel according to Horst, with narrower streets and free flow of parking. He said that would allow the city to create an eclectic district “that doesn’t follow all those standard, rigid rules.”

Another upgrade on the way is a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks, allowing foot traffic to move from one end of the development to the other.