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The new frontier: Loop 303 changes the development game for Glendale

Glendale, along with neighboring Goodyear, is a leader in industrial construction in the Valley, leveraging available land and its West Valley location. But the city’s growth and development also has landed it in the spotlight for some of the most talked-about projects in the Valley.

Currently, there are 9 million square feet of buildings in the planning and development stages along Loop 303, which the city has dubbed the “New Frontier” for business,” Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said in a recent panel discussion on Glendale hosted by the Phoenix Business Journal. The area has been the landing spot for some major national and international companies, including Mark Anthony Brewing, the maker of White Claw Hard Seltzer, as well as Dick’s Sporting Good and Red Bull.

For many companies looking to set up a new location, Glendale has been a choice destination because the city can help a company deliver speed to market.

“For a lot of these national and international companies, time is money,” TJ Wead, investment officer for Phoenix-based Merit Partners, and panelist in the discussion, said. “So, the faster you can get the building in the ground and the construction started the faster they can start producing their product. So, I think that’s been a great asset of the city in conjunction with the infrastructure that’s available now in the area.”

Glendale’s infrastructure and access to transportation corridors also has benefited business development, Nate Nathan, founder of Nathan & Associates Inc., said.

“The 303 has absolutely changed the world for the entire Valley,” Nathan said. “And you’ve got the convergence of the (Loop) 202 around South Mountain, the (Loop) 101, the (Loop) 303 and I-10.”

Nathan, who said he has been working in and around Glendale for more than three decades, said there have been some large parcels of land in those areas that have recently come into play, such as Allen Ranches where Merit Partners is planning a massive industrial project.

Office development lags

Glendale, while it has excelled in industrial, has lagged in office development, like most West Valley cities.

“The whole West Valley is short of every sector of office product,” Bobbie Mastracci, principal and designated broker for Phoenix West Commercial, said. “So is it the chicken or the egg? A lot of office developers can’t really develop the office without 50% of the building already leased out. So that’s kind of slowing down the process. There are a couple of spec offices being built in the West Valley, which will hopefully be home to some corporate headquarters, to mirror the industrial that’s coming out here. So, we have a huge shortage of product, but there is a demand for it if we could deliver.”

Mastracci said the city’s location along Loop 101 can provide an easy commute for workers in both office and industrial sides, and employees can take advantage of avoiding traffic that commutes east daily for work.

Brian Friedman, economic development director for the city of Glendale, said the last product type the city really has to resolve is office, after attracting high levels of industrial, retail and entertainment development. Friedman said the city has about 1 million square feet of office space around the sports and entertainment district near Westgate, and about 5 million square feet in the city as a whole.

“Most of it is full and has been for a very long time,” Friedman said of office product in the city.

Good labor pool

Nathan, whose brokerage focuses on land, said he expects the West Valley’s office market to grow rapidly once brokers and developers get the ball rolling in the area.

“I would say be aggressive, but be patient because it’s going to happen,” Nathan said. “It’s going to happen way sooner than you know. But it is going to take effort to educate the availability of infrastructure to these leasing brokers.”

Wead said the strong availability of labor in the West Valley should eventually drive office-using jobs to the area.

“As soon as some of these guys come out here and start planting their flags, the corporate offices and the headquarters they’re going to be overwhelmed with the availability of great labor in the area,” Wead said.

Friedman said one of the area’s most-anticipated projects, which will be centered around a swimming lagoon and entertainment project, will also bring other jobs to the area with spec office space and high-quality hotels for business travel.

“It actually builds and drives more business to the area and does more for the dynamism of the whole region and creates that draw,” he said. “It’s like gravity that with planets that as your small planets, you’re able to attract more planets. Your mass just grows and continues to grow and able to attract larger, more significant in this case projects to your region. And that’s what this is. This is sort of Glendale coming of age.”

The developer for the lagoon project closed on the land in May, and construction started on June 10. The Crystal Lagoon project is expected to include an 11-acre lagoon, experiential retail, Mattel amusement park, a 4D theater, a themed hotel and other hotel uses on the site. In total, 630 new hotel rooms are planned to be added to the area between three new hotels.

As part of the deal with the city, the project will be developed in a single phase and is expected to be operational by October 2022, just ahead of when the city will host the Super Bowl in early 2023.

“We’re very grateful as a city and can’t wait for this project to come out of the ground,” Friedman said.

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