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 Burger. 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.
Read the Executive Summary of the Market Study