The City Council on April 4 approved several rezoning measures that set into motion next steps on the long-anticipated Maricopa Station development.

Maricopa Station area map. [City of Maricopa]
After the meeting, City Manager Rick Horst confirmed the city has selected to exclusively negotiate with Thompson Thrift, developer of the Sonoran Creek Marketplace anchored by Sprouts Farmers Market, for Maricopa Station. Thompson Thrift was among two developers that responded to a public bid to purchase land for the purpose of commercial development, according to Horst.

“We look forward to them making their presentation of what they hope to bring to the site,” Horst said.

If the city and Thompson Thrift do not come to terms, the city could then move on to the other respondent or re-open the bid process.

Among those believed to have interest in Maricopa Station is home-improvement giant Lowe’s. The city announced Monday that Lowe’s largest rival, Home Depot, is coming to a site on the southeastern side of the city at Stonegate and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. When one of the rivals announces a site, the history in Southeast Valley communities like Chandler and Gilbert is that the other soon follows.

“I can tell you they’re nosing around,” Horst said of Lowe’s. “But that’s all I know at this point.”

The zoning changes approved by City Council cover a multitude of properties that had “patchwork zoning” on approximately 63 acres in the vicinity of John Wayne Parkway and Honeycutt Avenue, just south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. The Council voted unanimously on 14 measures that transform those properties to commercial and mixed-use zoning from a variety of previously zoned purposes.

Derek Scheerer, an urban planner for the city, anticipates that simplifying and unifying the zoning will facilitate development.

“The city has always looked at this area called Maricopa Station as a (future) commercial driver,” Scheerer said, when presenting the proposed changes to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission last month. “This is just south of the Historic City Center. It’s a very appropriate place for this kind of commercial development and mixed-use development.”

The type of businesses that might comprise Maricopa Station is wide open, according to the city manager.

“It’s a growing city. We need all kinds of commercial, right?” Horst said. “We are beginning to mature as a city and the good news is we are beginning to see a lot of interest from restaurants, entertainment and big boxes, as well.

“There are a lot of things we need. You can’t buy a mattress in town. You can’t buy a stick of furniture in town other than the stuff you put together. There are lots of needs beginning to be recognized, and we are getting lots of regional and national interest. There are people looking for projects that can be developed and either sell or lease pads out to these retailers.”

Adjacent to Maricopa Station to the east will be senior living and market-rate, workforce apartments on 19 acres. Just south on 16 acres will be additional retail. And just south of Exceptional Community Hospital will be flex space and office space.

Additional lodging is coming nearby. On the east side of John Wayne Parkway, the Copper Sky-area hospital/bio-med campus under construction will include an extended-stay hotel. The brand has not yet been determined, according to Horst. It will have a restaurant tied to it, he said.

The Maricopa Station development area south of the railroad tracks will begin to morph over the next two or three years as contracts are signed and construction gets under way, Horst estimates. He added there will be a period of inconvenience while roads and ancillary infrastructure are put in place.

“But it’s happening. It’s moving forward,” he said.