City strikes deal for big downtown multi-use project

Developer Jackson Dearborn Partners’ One Chandler development in downtown Chandler will include apartments as well as retail and office space. Here are four different views of how it would look. (City of Chandler)

Matt Orlando is praising his fellow Chandler City Council members for holding firm and finally getting exactly what they want in a major development in the center of town.

“I’m glad we stuck together on this,” Orlando said during the Oct. 24 study session. “We actually said to the developer, ‘Look, you could do this: you could buy this piece of property, but you’ve got to give the residents something back from a long-term perspective.’”

The development is One Chandler, to be built around the Jack in the Box at the southeast corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard.

The mix-use plan includes space for retail and offices, plus multi-family housing. There would be 290 housing units, 13,000 square feet of office space, and 16,000 square feet for retail on the ground floor. The Jack in the Box restaurant in the middle of the currently empty lot would remain.

The developer, Jackson Dearborn Partners, initially wanted to build only 126 multi-family housing units, with about 3,500 square feet for retail on their part of that lot. The city is selling the developer the other half of the lot for the appraised value of $2.94 million.

That will allow them to build a bigger project. The developer has two years to start construction. The project must be completed within 54 months of the agreement becoming final, which is expected to happen in February.

The entire project must still go through the usual procedures, including a review by the planning staff, public hearings, Planning & Zoning Board review before it could get final approval by Council. Changes to the plan could be made along the way.

The city owns the portion of the lot starting behind the Jack in the Box south to Buffalo Street. Jackson Dearborn owns the northern half of the lot on Chandler Boulevard.

The city has the right to buy back the property it is selling if Jackson Dearborn Partners is unable to fulfill the agreement.

“We understand that this is a very important intersection in downtown,” said John Carter Owens, the city’s redevelopment specialist for downtown. “Chandler Boulevard is the gateway to our downtown. So we’re thrilled to be working with such wonderful partners to deliver a project that’s worthy of that corner.”

Owens said the city has been trying for two decades to get a full block development done in that space.

“When we had the opportunity to do so in August … Council gave us direction to pursue a development agreement negotiation with Jackson Dearborn partners to make that nearly whole black development possible.

Orlando said it took a lot of patience to get to this point, but in the end the city got what it wanted out of this project.

“Like you said, we’ve been working for over 20 years,” Orlando said. “There’s been a lot of proposals come out … some good, some bad. They never really had the money and financing. I’m glad council and staff stuck together and made sure that we got a retail element, and the office element.”

Adding retail brings more jobs to the city, officials said, and will generate more tax dollars. Orlando indicated the city could have just put apartments on that space years ago, but held out for more.

“What’s in it for the city,” Orlando said. “Apartments are great, multifamily is great. But the key is we need retail to keep paying for those police officers, firefighters and other services. And the key is we need the places for businesses to grow and expand our community.”

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