Town West, the real estate and development firm that purchased the 114-acre Oro Valley Marketplace last year, has revealed a development proposal that would transform the property from a shopping center into a recreation and hospitality hub.
The marketplace—located at 12155 N. Oracle Road—will be rebranded into the “Oro Valley Village Center” and will focus its efforts on new apartments and hotels built on empty sites. In order to do that, the town council would have to approve an amendment to the Rancho Vistoso Planned Area Development.
Town West argues in the Feb. 14 proposal that the marketplace will not succeed in its current state.
“This ‘brick and mortar’ retail-centric model is no longer as successful with today’s changing demographics and technology,” the proposal states. “To be successful, the new Oro Valley Village Center must offer a combination of retail, recreation, additional and diverse housing on-site, dining, wellness services and hospitality in a new, innovative ‘retaildential’ village.”
Recreational amenities include a new park planned in the center of the property that will emphasize shade; usable open space and water harvesting; an active recreation area with a splash pad, sand beach and other play areas with shade structures; walking paths and a new access point to The Loop; and new public art installations.
Town West believes none of these new amenities will be successful without additional foot traffic nearby. To that end, the proposal also includes two new apartment complexes (a 220-unit “garden” apartment and a 360-unit “amenitized” apartment) on opposite sides of the property, and two new hotels (a 150-room Tangerine hotel and a 120-room Oracle hotel) named after the respective access roads.
These new buildings range from two to four stories and will be designed to “take advantage of views, while also being sensitive to viewscapes,” according to the proposal. The apartment complexes will have average rental prices between $1,200 and $1,500 per month.
The goal is to appeal to young professionals, retirees, families and Oro Valley visitors.
“We’re looking at more of a blended use which is the current trajectory of retail centers all over the world with the advent of e-commerce, the Amazon Effect,” said JJ Johnston, the town’s community and economic development director.
Johnston acknowledged that the marketplace has been “underperforming” for many years, but he believes these new uses will spark interest and investment in the property.
Oro Valley’s planning manager, Bayer Vella, agreed that this move would turn the marketplace into something that’s a “true community amenity.” He said it would provide services that many residents have been wanting for years.
“A key aspect of the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan is an ask for more shopping opportunities, more employment opportunities and more entertainment opportunities,” Vella said. “Our discussions with Town West are really looking at how we can bring all those things together to make for a successful shopping center.”
Vella pointed out that the new buildings Town West proposes do not involve converting any existing buildings into something else.
“Everything on the site involves vacant PAD areas that were previously graded but there’s actually nothing there,” he said.
The apartments along Tangerine Road would be built on a parcel that was originally planned for one-story office spaces, which never came to fruition. The adjacent hotel would go on an empty lot intended for retail space but never constructed. The hotel is already a permitted use on the property, but apartments are not, so that is what the town council will ultimately choose to approve or deny.
Vella said the general idea is to keep the current retail stores going, and Town West is working with new tenants to fill some of the empty retail spaces, as well as building additional retail near WalMart.
“Those are things that are already permitted and entitled through the town's previous review process,” Vella said.
Town West has scheduled their first public neighborhood meeting regarding this proposal for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10 in the Oro Valley Council Chambers (11000 N. LaCañada Drive). They will provide a presentation about the development proposal in partnership with the town’s project planner to review the process and applicable zoning regulations.
Town West and Oro Valley staff will address the public’s issues and gather feedback on the proposal at the meeting.
“This is the very, very beginning,” Vella said. “The town requires a neighborhood meeting even before someone submits an application. So technically, right now, we don’t have an application. Our process is designed to get folks engaged before an application.”
Vella said the town does anticipate an application to be forthcoming and the design of the project will change over time as public feedback is collected. In a few months, public meetings will be held with the town council and Planning and Zoning Commission so they will have an opportunity to review the plan and suggest changes.
Johnston hopes the Oro Valley community will show up to the meeting to get all the facts about the new project and engage with those responsible for it.
“Hopefully the public will come out on March 10 and learn a lot more from the property owner,” Johnston said. “They’re hearing it from the proverbial ‘horse’s mouth,’ the people that spent millions of dollars to acquire the whole site and their vision for it.”
To find more information and all public documents for the proposal, visit ovprojects.com.