Artist’s rendition of Main Street in Vistancia’s commercial core

Vistancia plots 506-acre commercial core

JENNIFER PRINE
NORTHWEST VALLEY NEWSPAPERS

(Daily News-Sun, June 16, 2006) — The 506 acres to serve as Vistancia’s commercial core have been proposed as a regional destination with concentrated retail, internet ip tv box, office space and homes for a more urban feel.
The pedestrian-friendly core proposes a combination of restaurants, entertainment, services and shopping centers that range from department stores and electronics to grocery stores.

Also proposed is a 60-acre medical campus that would grow in stages, much like the rest of the commercial core, beginning first with emergency treatment and medical clinic services, said Curt Smith, CEO of Sunbelt Holdings, which developed Vistancia in partnership with Shea Homes Arizona. The developers hope to draw a number of large-scale businesses and medical-related employment centers that would settle around the medical campus.

“It would be combining a lot of mixed uses, like, for example, office and residential units situated above street-level retail,” Smith said.
Parcels just south of the medical campus have been dedicated to a new high school and a 40-acre community park. The new, more detailed plan, which was reviewed by city staff in a meeting earlier this month, targets master-planned communities such as Vistancia and Lake Pleasant Heights, as well as Loop 303 traffic.

“As the city looked at the Loop 303 corridor plan, it identified Vistancia as the most logical place for a regional commercial and business core area,” Smith said. “We concur in our planning, and we are giving priority to the 303 or at least the three interchanges that service the immediate area.”
In total, the area calls for approximately 4 million square feet of retail space, 5 million square feet of office space, up to 6,000 dwelling units and a medical campus.

“I think this plan has a lot of the elements we are trying to get,” said Glen Van Nimwegen, community development director in Peoria.
“Whenever mixed-use development like this comes into a community it is a benefit because people can truly live, work and shop all in one spot. As a planner, it is something we like to see.”

Housing would be a variety of apartments and condominiums sprinkled among the retail, commercial and office uses. The Discovery Trail system that runs throughout Vistancia would be extended to connect to the community park, medical campus and activity on Lone Mountain Road.
The project is expected to take shape in 2010 or 2011, when the Loop 303 is completed and on a smaller scale prior to that.

“A development of this nature is a long-term project,” Smith said. “It is not just something we start building and in three years it’s completed. The initial phases will be lower intensity uses that will be added to as the area builds up.” In the next few months, Peoria’s planning department will be working to refine the plan before bringing it to planning and zoning and the council for approval, which likely will be at the end of the year, Smith said.

“This is the type of development we really need to start seeing,” said Steve Prokopek, economic development director. “As the land value goes up, the more we do with the land that we have is better overall.” Prokopek said he believes one of the only potential problems with the development is keeping southern Peoria connected to this type of development.

“The people coming from outside of north Peoria need to enjoy these facilities and feel like they have ownership in the area,” he said.