New Valley downtown project secures several tenants through new partnership

Audrey Jensen, Phoenix Business Journal

SimonCRE has partnered with Carefree Partners to develop the first phase of the Surprise City Center in the West Valley

Scottsdale-based SimonCRE has jumped on board with Phoenix-based Carefree Partners to develop a portion of the Surprise City Center in the West Valley.

The companies have formed a joint venture to develop an initial 70,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space with plans to develop more in the future including office buildings with ground-floor retail, apartments, parking, a family entertainment center and more on about 30 to 40 acres in the city’s growing downtown area.

“Our goal is to replicate a streetscape environment,” Joshua Simon, CEO of SimonCRE told the Business Journal. “If you look at Phoenix as a whole, especially the West Valley, there’s no other infill parcel of this size and this type of zoning where you have lot ability to do height, height density, lots of different uses.”

The first phase of the joint venture’s project has secured several leases with some restaurant concepts that are also new to the area including:

  • National barbecue chain Mission BBQ
  • Italian restaurant Osteria Mia
  • Soup, salad and sandwich shop Café Zupas
  • Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, a San Diego-based shop

Simon said about 50% of the 70,000 square feet of space currently has leases or commitments from tenants even before construction has started. The cost to develop the initial phase will total about $35 million.

Construction is slated to start in the third quarter of this year and be completed about a year later for the first phase of the project. A general contractor has not been selected.

Phoenix Commercial Advisors is the leasing brokerage for the project. Other retail firms such as PHX West Commercial LLC, Velocity and Western Retail Advisors have helped secure tenants at the site.

On Tuesday, Surprise City Council approved an agreement to reimburse the joint venture up to $6.5 million to build out Elm Street west to Bullard Avenue, where the first phase of the project will be located just south of Bell Road.

Plans for Surprise City Center moves forward

Carefree Partners owns about a quarter mile of vacant land around Surprise City Hall near Bell and Litchfield roads. It has been working for years to turn the area into a massive mixed-use destination on an overall property that the company has said is about the size of downtown Phoenix.

So far, the overall 640 acres is about 15% to 20% built out with Ottawa University, a Major League Baseball spring training residential facility, city buildings, amenities such as parks and tennis courts and some retail and apartments.

The joint venture development with SimonCRE will be one of the first at city center that will include a walkable, urban retail component and environment, said Scott Phillips, vice president of Carefree Partners.

“It’s that walkable downtown that we’ve worked so hard with the city to come up with,” Phillips told the Business Journal. “There’s been a lot of development on the site, now we’re getting into the next phase.”

Phillips said during the Council meeting on Tuesday that they’re excited to bring SimonCRE onto the project following its success with the new Village at Prasada power center along the Loop 303 in Surprise.

“We have attempted to kiss a lot of frogs on this project and bring a lot of different retail developers to the table and to date none of them have worked out very well,” Phillips told Council. “The difference with Josh and SimonCRE is that he’s committed to the city of Surprise, he understands the urban form that we’re going for and he’s committed to this project long term.”

Simon of SimonCRE, which has developed more than $500 million worth of projects in the city, said he was approached to join the city center team more than a year ago.

“We really had the same vision for this project and we’re really excited to be a part of it,” Simon said. “For us, obviously we’re able to leverage a lot of our existing relationships, what we’re doing out at Prasada, and we’ve got other projects in the area so we’re really in the know. Plus, it’s really flexing a new muscle for us is streetscape.”

Originally published by The Phoenix Business Journal on June 21, 2023.