City boasts a sign of the times in West Chandler - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

City boasts a sign of the times in West Chandler

November 22nd, 2021 development
City boasts a sign of the times in West Chandler

City boasts a sign of the times in West Chandler

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

It’s easy to overlook West Chandler because of the communities surrounding it. Tempe and Ahwatukee established strong identities years ago that can overshadow the western half of Chandler.

The city is taking steps to change that.

“This is a vibrant area of our community,” Mayor Kevin Hartke said. “At times, West Chandler just doesn’t get the love and attention I think it needs.”

Hartke made highlighting the success of the West Chandler employment corridor a priority in his State of the City address.

The city started doing that a couple of weeks ago by installing seven large West Chandler signs at major intersections. Crews plan on installing two more after they get clearance from Salt River Project. There will also be an advertising campaign.

Most of the campaign is aimed at highlighting the success of the region, instead of in trying to attract new businesses.

Micah Miranda, the city’s economic development director, said there are only a few large pieces of available land left to develop in the area, which is defined as being between McClintock Drive and I-10.

“West Chandler is doing extremely well,” Miranda said. “Chandler is very good at being proactive. We want to stay in front of any potential issues.

“What we’re hoping to do through this West Chandler branding campaign is a couple of things. One, is to raise the awareness profile of the employment corridor to our our specific target audiences,” he said, adding:

“Two, the Loop 202 South Mountain is changing driving patterns in the area. We want to let people know that you can have a business right here at this intersection, and your new talent pool is now pulling from West Phoenix, Buckeye, Levine, Goodyear area. And those potential employees can be to a Chandler location in less than 30 minutes.”

Chandler has five designated employment corridors. West Chandler with its 29,000 jobs ranks second, trailing only the Price Road corridor, which employs about 40,000.

Uptown Chandler ranks third, followed by airpark and downtown. Miranda said if the Airpark employment corridor develops as they have planned, it could move up to second or challenge Price Road with 35,000 to 40,000 jobs.

Some of the major employers in West Chandler include Intel, Verizon, Avnet, Arizona Nutritional Supplements and the Rogers Corporation. The largest retail area is around The Shoppes at Casa Paloma on Ray Road.

Miranda said some people forget Intel has a facility there that employs 5,500 people, because its Ocotillo campus tends to get most of the attention.

The largest track of undeveloped land in West Chandler is a 49-acre parcel owned since 1994 by the Tempe Union High School District on South Kyrene Road near the 202. Miranda said the city is in discussion with the district about how that land might best be used if it’s decided they don’t need it for a future high school.

The previous Tempe Union Governing Board discussed that parcel three years ago as it sold off another parcel in Ahwatukee to Blandford Homes for $23 million.

But the Chandler parcel presented a challenge to the board, which shelved further discussion after several board meetings in 2017.

Tempe Union never discussed using the Chandler land for a high school and, in fact, the district earlier this year closed Compadre High and moved that program to Marcos De Niza. The administration currently is trying to figure out the best use for that building.

The reason the Chandler parcel presented a challenge was because of a consultant’s report that posed three options for disposing of the land while a real estate company listed five different approaches to handling that parcel.

At least one option both had suggested would have had the district serve as a landlord, possible in a partnership with a developer, in an arrangement the consultant said could yield millions of dollars in revenue over a long period of time.

Several board members at the time balked at that idea, expressing concerns that it was a distraction from the district’s educational mission.

As for the broader Chandler program, meanwhile, Miranda said part of the branding effort is to build an identity and give residents a sense of pride. Before beginning the campaign, they met with stake holders. One thing they heard is some people did not know which city they were in at times.

The northern border of West Chandler jigs and jags north of Ray, so it’s not always easy to tell.

“That’s some of the place making we’re doing, so people really understand you are in Chandler, and West Chandler is a very distinct part of our town.”

Hartke said the branding effort for West Chandler is similar to one the city did for the Uptown employment corridor a few years ago. He called that a success.

“We relocated some of the businesses along Arizona Avenue. We still got some industrial spaces of light industry on the east side of Arizona Avenue. We brought attention to some of our parks up there. We put in a mural recently in one of our older parks, for example, instead of putting it in a new section. We decorated a lot of the corners with art up there. We’ll be doing the same [in West Chandler] inthe future.”

Miranda said West Chandler may have been overlooked, but it has a great story to tell. And that’s what they will do with this branding campaign.

“There’s a lot of great restaurants, entertainment and shopping, don’t forget about West Chandler. It’s not just the mall.”

City boasts a sign of the times in West Chandler

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