Vestar gets green light from city of Phoenix for new Laveen shopping and dining center

New town center with 400,000 square feet of retail, restaurant space approved for Laveen

As expected, Phoenix City Council gave the green light for a development agreement with Phoenix-based Vestar to support a new 40-acre shopping center in Laveen.

Called Laveen Towne Center, the new 400,000-square-foot retail, dining and entertainment project represents an investment of $130 million and will be the the first phase of an overall 90-acre site. It will feature a department store, entertainment concept, restaurants, specialty shops and various services in southwest Phoenix.

The property is located at the southwest corner of 59th Avenue and Dobbins Road in a fast-growing commercial and residential corridor around the Loop 202 in Laveen, an area with a strong agricultural heritage that has been underserved with retail and commercial offerings.

The development will be centered around the historic Hudson Farmhouse, which was first developed in 1926 and is eligible for historic designation. It will be repurposed as a possible new restaurant or wine-related space and gathering spot for residents.

The Hudson farmhouse site is associated with the agricultural development era from 1910 to 1965 in Laveen and is a “rare surviving example” of the smaller family operated farms that were common in the area before 1966, according to an Arizona Department of Transportation study in 2012. The Hudson family owned the farm through the 1980s until it fell into foreclosure.

Two existing cement-stave silos at the Hudson farm site could also be used to complement the farm house or create another use at the town center, according to Vestar. Laveen Towne Center is expected to break ground in 2024, be open to the public by the fall of 2025 and create hundreds of jobs over five years.

Kean Thomas, finance director for Vestar, said Vestar is “pleased” to receive the first approval from City Council for developing Laveen Towne Center. Other Council votes for zoning and infrastructure are expected to occur in summer of 2023.

“We look forward to fulfilling the needs of the community by creating a shopping destination with a unique blend of shops, services, restaurants, entertainment and gathering spaces surrounding the historic Hudson Farmhouse,” Thomas said in astatement.

City moves forward with $25 million in reimbursements

On Wednesday, Council unanimously approved an agreement that will allow the city to reimburse up to $25 million for public infrastructure improvements made by Vestar, which will build out 59th Avenue and Dobbins Road in addition to restoring the farmhouse and installing utilities, water, sewer and wastewater.

“I am very excited to start the new year with new and much needed investments in Laveen,” said Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari during the Wednesday meeting, adding that she hosted a restaurateur bus tour in 2022 and said a couple of groups are considering the farmhouse for a potential restaurant.

“Let me tell you how excited some of our local restauraeurs were when they saw that historic farmhouse,” she said. “We want to make sure we get the best possible, unique user in that space.”

The developer will be reimbursed through the city’s general fund portion of transaction privilege taxes collected from the commercial project, as well as development impact fees, over 25 years.

Laveen Towne Center is being developed by Vestar in partnership with Phoenix-based BRIO Investment Group. It will also be used to hold events and serve as a community gathering spot. Future phases of the site could include more commercial development as well as multifamily housing.

The project will add to a number of new industrial, residential and retail developments that have been proposed in recent months for vacant agricultural land around the Loop 202.

Vestar has developed other well known shopping centers across the Valley including Desert Ridge Marketplace and Tempe Marketplace and is in the process of developing Verrado Marketplace in Buckeye, which will feature 500,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space and be similar to Vestar’s other projects.

Editor’s note: This report was updated on Jan. 5 to include a statement from Vestar.