One of city’s last farms giving way to industry SanTan Sun News

One of city’s last farms giving way to industry

June 20th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
One of city’s last farms giving way to industry
Community
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

The Chandler Planning and Zoning Commission last week unanimously approved a rezoning that allows industrial development on one of the city’s last remaining farms – and one of the last large parcels of developable land.

The commission okayed the rezoning of the 71-acre Schrader Farms property at Queen Creek and McQueen roads after the developer, Core5, assured the panel tenants renting the six proposed new buildings on the site would not be high-traffic, large-scale manufacturers.

The Schrader Farms Business Park, named after a family that for decades maintained a hay farm, will consist of six buildings that will house a variety of undefined businesses.

“Schrader Farms Business Park will attract new companies, high-paying jobs and enhance Chandler’s growing reputation as one of the best places to live in America,” the project’s developers told the commission.

The developer said the site’s buildings were intentionally designed to invite the type of tenant that will not upset surrounding neighborhoods.

Core5 estimates Schrader Farms will generate 1,500 new jobs and produce an economic footprint worth nearly $825 million.

Positioned south of Tumbleweed Park, the business park would replace one of Chandler’s last large parcels of farmland that hasn’t already been turned into a strip mall or residential subdivision.

Chandler has been approaching build-out for the last few years and the Schrader Farms project pushes the city even closer to exhausting its supply of vacant land. As of 2019, about 11 percent of Chandler’s land had not yet been developed.

For decades, Chandler’s south side was the site of numerous dairy, cotton and alfalfa farms. But the city’s economic base has since steered away from agriculture as more farmers sold their properties. 

A city survey a few years ago indicated that most of Chandler’s remaining farmers weren’t interested in preserving their land and likely to sell to developers.   

William Schrader and his sons had been farming on their land along Queen Creek Road for years and decided that now seemed like the right time to hand the property over to commercial builders.

“Farming and city don’t mix anymore and I think it’s time to have the opportunity to move on,” Schrader said in a promotional video for the project. “There’s no place to be farming now in the middle of a city.”

During their consideration of the rezoning request, some planning commission members expressed concern that the project could disrupt or bother the community.

“That’s the challenge of both commission and Council,” said Chairman Rick Heumann, “To make sure our last remaining land is best utilized because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Chandler could be seeing more than 100 acres getting developed across the city for industrial or business purposes in the near future.

At least two other projects are currently under Planning and Zoning Commission review that would significantly add to the city’s available commercial space.

During the commission’s July 21 meeting, members are expected to review another project that would add commercial buildings near Gilbert and Queen Creek roads.

Known as the Chandler Airpark Technology Center, the site consists of multiple buildings constructed upon a 26-acre parcel near the city’s airport.

John Mocarski, the project’s director, said the park’s expected to result in 425,000 square-feet of new commercial space that could be used for manufacturing, supplying construction materials, repairing industrial equipment or as the future site of a vocational school.

“While the end users of the Technology Center are not yet known,” Mocarski said, “several users are anticipated for this flex industrial with office and showroom development or any other uses permitted under the (industrial) zoning and should be an asset to the adjacent area.”

The park’s close proximity to the local airport could attract more tenants to the area, Mocarski added, and heighten the property’s value to the business community.

“The adjacency to the Chandler Municipal Airport will create additional opportunities for users at this location,” he said.

Phase one of construction would include constructing two flex buildings that would offer up to 150,000 square-feet of commercial space. The “flex” distinction offers some variety in how the property could be leased out upon completion.

“The two proposed flex industrial buildings allow for a mix of uses including manufacturing, research, development, and office uses,” a city memo states.

The Technology Center will be asking the planning commission to approve a preliminary development plan for site layout and construction. No objections have been made against the project and city staff have already recommended its approval.

Another commercial project the planning commission will review later this month involves constructing an 86,000-square-foot office building near McClintock Drive and Chandler Boulevard. The 6-acre project would be an addition to the Chandler Corporate Center, which already houses several office buildings.

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