The concept of a downtown Oro Valley is one step closer to reality, though the actualization of any such development is still some years down the road.
Marking the culmination of more than a year of public outreach, research and development, Oro Valley’s Main Streets Project appeared before the town council in the form of a concept plan during the March 5 regular session. Unanimously adopted, the 16-page document sets the foundation from which town staff will spend more than a year developing detailed blueprints, funding mechanisms and design schemes.
Much of the development will be influenced by resident input, said Oro Valley Long Range Principal Planner Elisa Hamblin, who presented the concept to the council. Hamblin has been involved with the project since its inception, and said Main Streets was developed under the direction of numerous town plans that reflect the “community desire for a town center.”
Hamblin said the creation of a central gathering place would serve the community, though she also emphasized the importance of such development in regard to the future of the town’s economic viability.
“To generate employment growth the town needs to be an attractive place for businesses and their work force, which in turn supports our economic vitality,” she said. “Currently, Oro Valley has very few opportunities for development remaining. Most large parcels of land within the town limits have either been built out or have development plans in place. As Oro Valley does approach build-out there will be pressure for infill. This may be a few years away, but planning for redevelopment and infill now ensures that the desired community vision is in place when the redevelopment becomes a reality.”
The concept plan represents a big picture vision for the future, though two locations have been identified by the town as potential locations for a central gathering place: the intersections of North La Cañada Drive and West Lambert Lane and North Oracle Road at North First Avenue. Both sites are situated near an abundance of residents and maintain strong business environments. Additionally, each location is near to civic, park and other recreation destinations.
Hamblin mentioned the Oro Valley Marketplace as part of initial conversations, though a lack of nearby residences and civic destinations, coupled with lack of interest by the property owner eliminated it from contention.
While no plan specifics are developed, the concept is to create walkable community spaces to include dining, shopping and entertainment options for residents and visitors. Development of such spaces would include architectural changes, further development of public art, roadway and transit development and increased business activity, among other focus areas.
Members of the community had a chance to provide feedback on the project’s future when the town hosted the Walk the Block event in February. Residents were invited to the La Cañada and Lambert intersection and asked to vote on a variety of design concepts. Going forward, Staff will utilize the responses, in addition to talks with area businesses, to develop the concept further.
Endorsing the plan was Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Perry, who said that even though the completion of a Main Street is still years away, the early planning and redevelopment is paramount to successful economic development in the future.
“I have stood here many times these last six years and said that when we have a vibrant economy and when we have a vibrant business environment, we have a vibrant and healthy community,” Perry said. “Those conditions go hand-in-hand, that’s what the people of Or Valley want, and Main Street can help us get there.”