According to the RFP, incentives offered by the town for the pending development are, among other things, an eight-year break on paying property taxes, expedited permitting, waiver of certain fees and Industrial Development.
Marnie Schubert, Queen Creek spokeswoman, described the IDA as a resource to developers.
“Should the developer qualify, the IDA can issue bonds for the developer,” she said in an Oct. 6 written response to emailed questions. “All costs are taken on by the developer, and there are no subsidies by the town.”
Interest payments if and when bonds are issued by the IDA will be made by the developer — not Queen Creek residents, according to Ms. Schubert.
Current boundaries for Queen Creek Town Center are about four square miles originating from the intersection of Ellsworth and Ocotillo roads including Victoria Lane to the south, the Queen Creek wash east of Ellsworth Road and west of Ellsworth to Desert Mountain Park, both sides of Rittenhouse Road connecting at the most eastern section of the Village Loop Road.
The 17-acre parcel set for development is at the southeast corner of Ellsworth Loop and Rittenhouse Road, according to Chris Webb, Queen Creek Town Center Committee vice chairman.
Mr. Webb, a Queen Creek resident, says he knows no more than anyone else in terms of what is sought to be constructed at the parcel within Town Center.
“ What I am aware of is the town council authorized the RFP to be issued,” he said of what he knows about the pending development. “I don’t know who the parties are. I know they have been given some guidelines in the area that is outlined in the RFP.”
When the citizen-run committee he participates in knows so will the general public, Mr. Webb contends.
“ This piece is certainly within the boundary of Town Center, but I wasn’t involved in the creation of the RFP,” he said. “I think in part it is an attempt to see perhaps how the current market and what developers perceive as viable in the current market and how that lines up with what the town’s vision is for this piece.”
Through the RFP process Mr. Webb hopes to find the right suitor and development for the 17-acre parcel.
“I think from the discussion that we have had as a town center committee certainly, I think that one of the things lacking in town center is something to do,” He said. “If residents want to go to the movies, bowling or whatever, they have to leave ... they have to go to Mesa, Gilbert or they have to go to Chandler.”
But if you build it — and depending on what you build — will people come? is the question sought to be answered by Queen Creek officials through the RFP process and only the market can dictate that, Mr. Webb contends.
“ Those developers (who respond to the RFP) will be able to propose uses in that vein that they think is viable,” he pointed out. “ Trying to keep residents in town in the evenings and on the weekends, that is a big thing we see there.”
From a resident perspective, Mr. Webb says he would like to see a movie theatre developed on that parcel.
“I certainly have things that as a resident I would like to see, but whether they are a good fit for that parcel or viable I don’t know,” he said. “Certainly, at some point in time I would love to see a movie theatre.”
At one time, the parcel described in the RFP was planned for a movie theatre, according to Mr. Webb. “ Whether that use is still viable on that particular piece of property I don’t know,” he explained. “I think we need anything that provides not only use and all the residents of the town something to do on the weekends is a good thing.”
The core of the development project is creating economic development prospects, Mr. Webb says.
“I think it sends a couple of positive messages,” he said of when and if development occurs at the parcel. “Queen Creek as a town, staff and town council are making efforts to stimulate growth and to create the opportunities for the quality of life for its residents.”
Mr. Webb says Queen Creek officials and residents alike don’t want development for development’s sake.
“A project like that is really a catalyst for that whole Town Center area,” he said.
“ We don’t just want development for the sake of development. It needs to be something that is viable, sustainable and needed there.”
Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney agrees the original plan for the parcel up for development was originally meant for a movie theatre.
“Originally, when that development we did all of the zoning for that parcel, it was a second phase of that Town Center development and it was a movie theatre,” he said in an Oct. 4 phone interview. “A movie theatre is one of the requests of our residents that we have not been able to fill.”
Moving forward with the RFP having a movie theatre as a priority, but not a necessity, Mayor Barney says of the current process.
“ This is to see what we would be able to get and to try and be proactive to see if someone would come in and work with us,” he pointed out. “But no one is going to build a theatre that isn’t going to make money.”
The development could be anything, but something built with an entertainment focus is a move in the right direction for the further development of Town Center, Mayor Barney says.
“ We don’t know what we are going to get in actuality until it happens,” he said. “I don’t know that we are lacking a whole lot, but I know a whole lot of people want to see a high-scale restaurant.”
The RFP is open until 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31 at which time a representative of the economic development department will publicly announce the firms and concepts sought for the parcel, Queen Creek officials say.