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Jan. 7, 2017

Chandler’s Economic Development Division: A look back through 2016

The City’s Economic Development Division hit the ground running (as they do every year) and had an impactful year, bringing new and exciting projects to Chandler. Here are the highlights:

Major Employer Announcements
Rogers Corp., an engineered materials solution firm, announced it is moving its global headquarters from namesake Rogers, Connecticut, to Chandler. Rogers’ Advanced Connectivity Solutions division is already located in Chandler, and has been in the area for 50 years. Rogers was the City’s first technology company and has a campus in the area of Dobson Road and Chandler Boulevard, and the relocated operations will move to those facilities.

Orbital ATK, one of the world’s leading aerospace and defense technology firms, announced the expansion of the company’s Launch Vehicles Division with the creation of an engineering operations center in Chandler. The company provides launch vehicles for commercial, civil and government customers, and this facility will create up to 500 full-time, high-wage jobs over a five-year period. Orbital ATK will be moving into 46,000 square feet in Allred Park Place along Chandler’s Price Corridor. Orbital ATK’s launch vehicle operations began in Chandler in the 1980s and has grown to more than 1,200 employees at two locations in the City.

Chandler was selected by Google as the first city in Arizona for its self-driving car project. Testing fleets are currently in the cities of Mountain View, Calif., Austin, Texas and Kirkland, Wash. Google also recently changed the name of the self-driving car initiative to Waymo. Last month, Waymo invited Gov. Doug Ducey and Vice Mayor Jack Sellers to become the first non-employees to experience a ride in the self-driving vehicle. In addition, the City’s Economic Development Division worked with the company to lease a 39,000 square-foot facility in west Chandler, which will serve as Waymo’s hub for its self-driving car project in the Valley.

NXP Semiconductors, formerly Freescale, is in the process of relocating 800 employees from their former Tempe campus to Chandler. This will result in a total of 1,400 jobs in Chandler when completed.

Republic Services, a national leader in recycling and waste services, opened its new Customer Resource Center in Chandler. The company's 72,000-square-foot facility, located at 2525 W. Frye Road, is one of three Customer Resource Centers to be established throughout the country to enhance service and support for Republic Services' more than 14 million customers and 30,000 employees. Cardinal Financial Company, a mortgage origination company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, also leased 12,188 square feet in the same building.

DaVita Rx, the first and largest full-service pharmacy created specifically for the unique needs of kidney patients, leased more than 75,000 square feet of flexible office space at Chandler Corporate Center. This operation is expected to create 550 to 600 jobs. ARM, Inc. leased 13,275 square feet of space for its new Arizona operations at The Park at San Tan, located at 3075 W. Ray Road. Headquartered in Cambridge, England, ARM is a leader in microprocessor intellectual property.

Execute to Win (ETW), a software and management technology company, signed a lease for office space in Downtown Chandler. ETW will locate in 4,645 square feet of office space in the First Credit Union Building, and expects to be operational by June 2017. The company currently has 25 employees, and this new space is expected to accommodate growth to 50 employees by the end of 2017.

State Forty Eight, LLC, a maker of Arizona-themed and inspired- apparel, has found its first permanent home in north Chandler.

Retail, Entertainment and Hospitality
Porsche Chandler opened their dealership in the 202 Autopark. This is Porsche’s third dealership in the state and second in Metro Phoenix. In addition, RideNow Chandler also relocated and expanded into a new building in the Autopark.

Home2Suites by Hilton, located on Queen Creek Road between Price and Dobson roads, opened its first hotel in Arizona earlier this year. The property features 126 rooms.

Element Chandler Fashion Center opened this past December. The 107-room hotel includes 600 square feet of meeting space. Element is recognized as an industry leader in the eco-space and offers travelers a fresh, reimagined interpretation of the extended stay hotel experience.

Drury Hotel, located on Price Road and the Loop 202, will open in the spring of 2017. The property will feature 210 rooms and will be the tallest building in Chandler.
Cambria Hotels & Suites hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at Chandler Viridian on the Price Corridor. Slated to open in 2017, the facility will feature 136 rooms and 1,300 square feet of meeting space. The hotel will be part of Chandler Viridian, a 25-acre mixed-use project (formerly known as Elevation Chandler). A Texas-based dine-in movie theatre, Alamo Drafthouse, opened its first Arizona location on the northeast corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Heights Road. Blue 32, will open a new restaurant in the same shopping center, later this month.

A new Fry’s Marketplace opened in Gilbert and Ocotillo roads. Complete with a wine bar, sushi chef and coffee stand, it’s more than your average grocery store.
A handful of new restaurants opened in Downtown Chandler including: Crisp Greens, La Bocca, Modern Margarita, 55 Chicago, The Brickyard and Sammies.

Development, Redevelopment and Downtown
Ryan Companies has plans to develop Site 6 (now known as Chandler 87) in downtown Chandler. The 4.25 acre site is located directly across from City Hall on the northwest corner of Chicago Street and Arizona Avenue. Chandler 87 will consist of approximately 169,000 square feet of office space with an additional 8,000-10,000 square feet of retail.

The former Covance research and development facility (vacant since 2012) was recently purchased by a joint venture between Walton Street Capital LLC and Clarius Partners LLC. The new owners are on track to reposition the property (The HUB) into a Class A, creative office environment through an estimated $35 million renovation project. The building and adjacent land provide an opportunity for either a single user corporate campus or multiple office tenants.

The City Council approved the Allred Park Place project, a 73-acre parcel located at the northeast and southwest corners of Price and Willis roads, which will include a business park, hotel, conference center and service retail uses.

The Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors (SEVRAR), the largest realty association in Arizona, has announced plans to build their new office headquarters in Chandler's Airpark Area. The group has purchased a 3.1 acre site at Chandler Airport Center, near the Loop 202 San Tan Freeway and Cooper Road, for a build-to-suit office and conference facility. The project is expected to be completed in early 2018. In addition, Revelation Realty broke ground on a 20,000 square-foot, $5 million mixed-use facility in the Airpark.

Dignity Health expanded patient services by partnering with Kindred Healthcare to open the Dignity Health Rehabilitation Hospital. The two-story, 58,000-square-foot facility will include a stroke unit, physical therapy gym and 50 beds to serve patients recovering from stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and similar medical conditions. Located at 1515 W. Chandler Blvd., it is expected to employ about 190 staff members.

Other initiatives
The City became an official partner of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (EXIM), making it easier for Chandler businesses to sell their goods internationally. The bank is the official export credit agency of the United States and facilitates the export of U.S. goods by offering a variety of financing tools. Chandler was the first city in Arizona to establish an official partnership with EXIM. As a result, staff will organize two EXIM seminars per year, which will be open to local companies, and a handful of companies have already participated in these events.

The City Council adopted an Adaptive Reuse Overlay District to facilitate the reuse of existing underperforming/underutilized retail buildings and properties. Qualified adaptive reuse projects will be able to take advantage of modified development standards, and a streamlined review/approval process that makes project timeframes and costs more predictable.

Employee Profile: James Smith
Economic Development Division, Economic Development Program Manager

Introducing Mr. Jimmy Smooth …

Chandler has developed a strong reputation as a leader in the high-tech industry. In fact, it’s been tapped as the innovation and technology hub of the Southwest. 

It all started with the vision of prior Chandler mayors and councilmembers. Each year, that initial vision continues to grow through the enthusiastic support of the existing Mayor and Council and the diligent work of City staff in the Economic Development Division. 

One staff member who recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary with the Economic Development Division is James Smith, best known as “Jimmy Smooth” among City staff. 

Smith got his nickname during a networking event, when a well-known East Valley leader who shall remain nameless referred to him as Jimmy Smooth (instead of James Smith). City staff were present, and the name lives on. Even Economic Development Director Micah Miranda referred to Smith as “Jimmy Smooth” as he presented him with a 10-year service award at a recent Council meeting. 

Now a part of the division’s management team, Smith began his career with the City of Chandler after working for the Mineta San José International Airport in California. At the Bay Area airport, Smith began with overseeing the operating budget for the organization, and later supported the airport’s business development initiatives, primarily those related to securing additional air service. He is proud to have worked on bringing JetBlue to the airport. Not surprising, he was more interested in the economic development side than the budget/operations side of the business. 

That being said, his family was looking to move to Arizona, and he was on the lookout for a new opportunity to work solely in the economic development field. He came across an opening for the City of Chandler as an economic development specialist. He applied and has been with the division ever since.

As a program manager, Smith and the team work to attract businesses to Chandler, help new businesses get established and operational and help existing business with any issues affecting their operations or expansion plans.

During his first few years in Chandler, he focused on retail projects, and his scope has since expanded. “Chandler is a stellar community, and every day, I have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects,” said Smith. “The City truly sells itself.” 

It’s difficult for him to select his favorite project that he helped bring to fruition. “There are so many highlights that come to mind,” said Smith. “It was great seeing the PGA Tour Superstore locate in Chandler.” At the time, it was one of the first 10 or so stores open in the country, and even now, there are less than 30 stores nationwide. 

He also mentions some recent endeavors: the DaVita Rx and Republic Services locates as well as the Rogers and Orbital ATK expansions. Smith also is proud to have worked with developers and brokers to eliminate many of the “eyesores” the media has covered in recent years. These include the former Elevation Chandler site (Loop 101 and Frye Road), the former Food for Less/SwapSmart (Alma School and Warner roads), which has been redeveloped as multi-family housing, Chandler Crossings (where Alamo Drafthouse recently opened), the former Mervyn’s (Alma School and Elliot roads), which is being renovated to accommodate a furniture store, and a former motel and gun