Commercial development continues to ramp up in Gilbert, Arizona

Gilbert, Commercial, DevelopmentBy Parker Leavitt The Republic | Wed Aug 28, 2013

Commercial development continues to ramp up in Gilbert — bringing the potential for hundreds of new jobs — as plans for a seventh auto dealership in the Santan Motorplex, a major office complex and a new industrial building were unveiled to the Design Review Board this month.

Brown & Brown Chevrolet is looking to become the Gilbert auto mall’s newest addition with a 15-acre dealership on the southwestern corner of Val Vista Drive and Pecos Road, next to Henry Brown Buick-GMC, according to plans submitted to the town.

Santan Motorplex welcomed its first dealership in 2007 — just before the start of the Great Recession — and has seen renewed demand for development in recent years.

A Volkswagen dealer opened in 2011 as the auto mall’s fifth tenant, and the Earnhardt family last fall announced plans to relocate their Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram dealership to the complex. The auto mall also includes San Tan Ford, San Tan Hyundai and CarMax, and there’s still room for several more dealerships.

Cars are one of the largest big-ticket items subject to municipal sales taxes, and a new auto dealership can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for a city’s coffers each year.

Regional auto malls, as a result, are highly coveted by municipalities and have been the impetus for tax-incentive bidding wars in the past. In 2004, Gilbert committed to give the Santan Motorplex developer a rebate on half of the retail-sales tax it generates until 2017, with a cap of $60 million.

Gilbert took in a town-record $30.8 million in retail-tax revenue in fiscal 2013, up 21 percent from two years prior. Gilbert Chamber of Commerce President Kathy Tilque said auto sales have been a major force behind the boost in consumer spending.

“They really are a leading indicator about a change in people’s spending habits,” Tiqlue said. “When the car industry turns around … that, to me, is a great indicator that retail sales are on the rebound.”

Brown & Brown Chevrolet proposes to build a 12,000-square-foot showroom, 52 service baysand a vast parking lot to show off inventory. The plans are awaiting approval from the Design Review Board, which took a first look during a study session Aug. 15.

The dealership plans to employ about 140 people with an annual payroll of about $16.6 million, according to a town report.

Meanwhile, Gilbert officials are poised to approve the town’s first major commercial office development in about 18 months and one of the few such projects proposed since the recession hit in late 2007.

Three new office buildings in the Reserve at San Tan would bring nearly 300,000 square feet of professional space to a site near the southeastern corner of Gilbert and Germann roads. The development proposal includes two single-story buildings and one three-story building, according to plans submitted to the Design Review Board.

The first phase of the Reserve at San Tan office complex was built in 2008, and tenants include inData Corp., Banner Home Care and Arizona Department of Revenue. The complex is just south of the sprawling Crossroads Towne Center, which includes more than 1 million square feet of retail and restaurant space.

The Reserve at San Tan is in one of Gilbert’s four “employment corridors” where officials are working to generate new jobs. There’s nearly 1.2 million square feet of office space in 94 buildings in the corridor stretching from Gilbert Road to Ray Road along Loop 202, according to a town report.

Hydraulic-repair company Cohone Technologies Sales & Service proposes to build an 8,200-square-foot industrial building in the Fuller Commercial Center near Baseline and Cooper roads.

The last industrial building to win approval from the Design Review Board came in February 2012, when CBRE was approved to develop a 15-acre site southwest of McQueen and Elliot roads.

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