History – Main Streets Concept Rejected
With the new Council elected in 2018 and lack of community interest in a Main Streets project at the Lambert & La Canada intersection, the Town’s strategic direction shifted to a concept that attracts retail and restaurant investment and expansion in primary commercial centers within the community.
The following reflects the original Main Streets concept.
This draft map transforms the Fry’s Shopping Center parking lot at Lambert & La Canada into a “city block” with interior streets. Note the shift to on-street parking and reduced parking on the lot.
WHAT IS “MAIN STREETS”?
The Oro Valley Main Streets Project is a multi-year planning effort by unelected town staff to create a town center that focuses on areas for gathering, dining and shopping. The intersections of Lambert and La Canada and First and Oracle are under consideration for the project. The Town believes these “walkable and unique areas will enhance the lifestyle and economy of Oro Valley.” Funding has not been identified. What will this latest foray cost OV residents financially in addition to the loss of our small-town community resulting from the massive increase in housing required to support it?
THE NEED FOR GROWTH AND MILLENNIALS
According to the Study commissioned by Town Planning Staff, the key to the long-term sustainability of Main Streets and the town’s commercial areas is housing. Despite residents’ desire for low density and a small-town feel, the Study indicates that Oro Valley needs thousands of additional homes/condos/apartments to support Main Streets. Council backs this project as it supports their agenda to grow Oro Valley and increase revenues to support their budget increases. View the January 17, 2018 Town Council Study Session Presentation or View the video presentation.
IS THE HIREMATH “COMMUNITY BY DESIGN” WHAT RESIDENTS WANT?
Mayor Hiremath and his Council Majority have already changed Oro Valley’s identity by adding 750 apartments and approving an untold number of houses during their two terms. They seemed intent on destroying the small town feel and quiet beauty of the mountains and desert – the very reasons many of us moved here. Borrowing the words from a Joni Mitchell song “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? They paved Paradise and put in a parking lot.”
WHAT IS FORM-BASED CODE?
Staff is currently considering Form-Based Codes for the project. Form-Based Codes regulate the shape and relation of buildings rather than their use. This differs from traditional zoning where uses are restricted to certain areas. Is a city look, congestion and on-street parking what town residents envision for Oro Valley or is this another concept driven by our local government’s need for revenue?
MORE FAILED VENTURES?
The Town has learned nothing from the millions of dollars in losses caused by its golf and restaurant deal with shrewd businessman Humberto Lopez (HSL) or from another poor decision with the Oro Valley Marketplace. With that deal, Vestar convinced a former Town Council to agree to a sales tax “incentive” known as an Economic Development Agreement (EDA). That obligation was met in 2019. Under the agreement, Oro Valley was required to share 45% of our sales tax revenue with Vestar – up to $23.2 million dollars. For this deal, we were promised a “unique” mall with “signature shops.” Instead we got chain stores and restaurants, including Wal-Mart, Big Lots, Red Lobster and In and Out Burgers. Empty storefronts remain and the property is up for sale. Will Main Streets be more of the same?
Oro Valley government, including unelected town planning staff, doesn’t have the business acumen and expertise in real estate development to risk another costly venture at the expense of Town residents. The rampant and contentious over development in Oro Valley is all tied to the need for rooftops to support Main Streets and other commercial areas in the town.
The Main Streets concept grew from several Town Plans, including the 2016 General Plan “Your Voice, Our Future” project. The overwhelming majority of town residents voted to approve the General Plan without reading it. Main Streets was first introduced to stakeholders in early 2016 as a “long‐range plan to promote unique areas of economic development and community gathering in Oro Valley.”
The main challenges identified by stakeholders included the “transformation of the current built environment and transportation conditions, the funding of the project implementation, and gaining public support for the idea.”
Stakeholders (some were donors to former Mayor Hiremath and Councilmember Waters, Hornat and Snider’s campaigns) included several members of the development community, landscape architects McGann & Associates, the Hilton El Conquistador, Diamond Ventures and Beztak, as well as other commercial and local business interests. While some stakeholders offered to share their expertise and community connections or to participate in focus groups, no financial support was offered.
In May of 2016, several months after the stakeholder sessions, Town Staff held a community workshop where people could get more information and provide comments on the project. The intersections of First & Oracle and Lambert & La Canada were revealed as possible Main Streets areas. The sessions were poorly attended and funding was not addressed.
The Town held a “Walk the Block” community event in February of 2017 at Lambert and La Canada to share their ideas and seek further input from residents. Roughly 300, including children, of the town’s 43,000 residents attended the event.
In November of 2017, the Town hosted a community forum featuring a local market analyst who presented findings on residential, office and commercial market conditions for Oro Valley and the Main Streets areas.
See our Videos tab to view additional information on Main Streets