Freeways shaping major and emerging business corridors in West Valley

Freeways traversing through Phoenix metro’s West Valley have created four major and emerging business corridors for healthcare, entertainment, manufacturing and technology.

These corridors are not only raising the region’s population but its status as well, said key players from each who spoke to economic development, business, government and education leaders in the West Valley Tuesday at an event hosted by WESTMARC, a public-private partnership whose mission is to promote the region. 

“The projects that are coming in, the names that are coming in, are really teeing us up for that next level because they are big names, they’re household names, and they’re attracting other companies to make investments in the West Valley,” said Sintra Hoffman, president and CEO of WESTMARC, whose members include public officials from the 15 communities, the business community and the educational sector in the West Valley. 

Nearly 200 attendees registered for the virtual event entitled, All Freeways Lead to the West Valley, to hear updates on how each corridor is developing. Featured speakers were Kevin Phelps, city manager of Glendale; Courtney Ophaug, CEO of Banner Estrella Medical Center; Christine Mackay, community and economic development director for Phoenix; and Jeanine Jerkovic, economic development director for Surprise. 

More than half of new growth to occur in West Valley

Over the next two decades, nearly half of all growth in Maricopa County is expected to occur in the 3,000-square-miles known as the West Valley. Currently, there are about 1.7 million residents. Much of the population growth and investment pouring in is being driven by these four corridors. 

Here’s a snapshot of each corridor:

Entertainment and Sports Corridor: Loop 101 freeway in Glendale 

Fifteen years ago, the State Farm Stadium was built in the middle of a large patch of vacant farm land near the 101 freeway and Glendale Road in Glendale. 

Today, it is a major entertainment and sports hub packed with bars and restaurants, the Gila River Arena, and other “experiential” venues, attracting 12 million visitors each year, Phelps said. 

More recent development includes the completion of the $400 million, 1.2 million square-foot Desert Diamond West Valley Casino near 93rd and Northern Avenues near the stadium that is owned and operated by the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise. 

For family fun, the Crystal Lagoons, a public 11-acre lagoon and water park with an accompanying resort, is under construction just south of the stadium. The unique project by ECL Glendale, LLC, is expected to open by the next time State Farm Stadium hosts the Super Bowl in 2023. Among the features: a beverage bar that floats above the ground and the “largest helium balloon in the world.” Other “experiential” retailers are signing up to build near the site, Phelps said. 

In an area once slated for Park-N-Drive spots on the northern end of the city alongside the freeway, luxury car dealerships are cropping up, Phelps said. He turned down $11 million in funding for the parking projects to attract more lucrative uses for the property.  It paid off. It is now home to BMW, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover dealerships and will  be joined by a fifth dealership soon to be announced, he said. 

Looking ahead, the city is focusing on attracting multi-story, multi-family residential to support dozens of restaurants and other businesses in the corridor.   

Medical Corridor – I-10 and McDowell Road 

One of the most developed areas is a healthcare corridor near I-10 and McDowell Road. Over two decades, it has developed into a 30-mile long corridor that includes a diverse array of healthcare providers, said Ophaug, CEO of Banner Estrella Medical Center.

Currently, 36 percent of the healthcare workers in Maricopa County live in the West Valley, she said, a testimony to how important the investment has been for the region. 

Banner Estrella operates hospitals, urgent care centers, imaging centers, home health and hospice care, and ambulatory surgery, primary care and specialty clinics throughout West Valley, she said. 

Other major and smaller healthcare organizations in the corridor include Abrazo Health, Palm Valley Rehabilitation, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Copper Springs behavioral health hospital, Northwest Lab services and many more. 

Looking ahead, the need for more healthcare providers will be an issue that needs to be addressed as 60,000 new residents are projected to move into the West Valley in the next five years, Ophaug said.

Technology Corridor: Loop 202 near South Mountain 

An area that is emerging as a tech corridor is a 22-mile extension of Loop 22 near South Mountain, said Mackay, community and economic development director for Phoenix.

Mackay said the city is focused on attracting advanced manufacturing, data centers, aerospace and defense, emerging technology, advanced business services and corporate campuses to the corridor. 

Some of the projects underway are Trammell Crow’s commerce center with assured tenants including Allstate Insurance Company and a distribution and corporate headquarters for Spencer’s TV & Appliance.

With population growth booming in nearby Laveen with young families with steady incomes, they are clamoring for more retail and dining options as well, she said. 

Manufacturing Corridor – Loop 303 

The Loop 303, which flows in an arc that connects Interstate 17 to Interstate 10, is emerging as a manufacturing corridor, said Jeanine Jerkovic, economic development director for Surprise. 

Recently, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company purchased 1,129 acres of State Trust Land near the 303 and Highway 74 to build a $12 billion factory.

Other major projects include CRG, Park 303, Woolf Logistics and West 303 Logistics. 

In addition to logistics and manufacturing, new service industries are cropping up like the new Costco on Waddell Road just off the 303. The area has also seen significant growth in Class A office development and housing, Jerkovic said, including “high-end” homes, a fairly new phenomenon.  

Surprise is growing up and is no longer just a place to just “visit your parents or grandparents,” she said.

To watch the full presentation, go to: All Roads Lead to the West Valley 

Victoria Harker

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