By Melissa St. Aude | Casa Grande Dispatch
(Edited for length)
Although development plans for 34 acres behind the old outlet center on Jimmie Kerr Boulevard have twice been rejected by Casa Grande planning staff, company officials with AZ Outlet Investments, sister company to PhoenixMart, believe their revised concept will meet with city approval.
“It’s a holistic mixed-use project with organic form,” said Jeremy Schoenfelder, chief executive officer of PhoenixMart and AZ Sourcing, parent company of AZ Outlet Investments.
Original plans for the development, known as “Station II,” called for several urban-style structures including a 165-foot high-rise apartment building, 110-foot hotel along with a six-level parking garage, four-story anchor store, single retail store and additional buildings with heights up to 75 feet.
In rejecting the development plans, Casa Grande Planning and Development staff in reports said the project was not compatible with the surrounding area and that setbacks did not conform with city code.
A redesign of the plan has addressed some of the height and density issues, Schoenfelder said, and one of the larger buildings in the development could be redesigned as two.
“I think we can work out those issues with the city,” he said.
Schoenfelder, who grew up on a ranch, said he realizes that the 34 acres on which the urban-style Station II is planned is former farmland as is the 585 acres on which PhoenixMart will be built, but he doesn’t see either development as a threat to agriculture.
“The whole idea that there is a battle between the farmers and the developers, that it has to be one or the other, I don’t see it that way,” he said.
He believes Pinal County’s agricultural setting appeals to people choosing to move to the area, complementing development.
“I know that sometimes the farmers feel squeezed out, but I believe the farms and development can coexist,” he said.