At 5 square miles, Eastmark is the largest tract of privately-held developable land in the East Valley.
That scope is not lost on the landowner, DMB Associates.
“You have to imagine planning five Kierland Master Plans and thinking about the life cycles of development as much as 50 years in the future,” says Karrin Taylor, the DMB executive vice president who led the entitlement effort. “There’s a unique responsibility and stewardship over this land because of its impact on the greater Gateway region.”
The vision for Eastmark includes entitlements for 20 MSF of commercial space — slightly less than Downtown Phoenix — including a major resort/hotel core and up to 15,000 homes at build out.
“The potential economic impact of Eastmark on Mesa and the East Valley cannot be understated,” Taylor says. “Our goal is to create another major employment core. This community will offer everything in one place, and it’s just minutes from an airport terminal to connect business travelers to the world.”
Planning began at the height of the economic downturn, and DMB learned some important lessons about partnership, speed and flexibility.
“Using Form Based Code for the first time in Mesa, this Community Plan allows Eastmark to respond to the market and encourages a variety of uses around the 3,200 acres,” Taylor explains. “The planning framework was structured with the City of Mesa to minimize discretionary approvals for projects that have clear economic benefits, in the hope that employers who want to bring quality jobs to Mesa can move through the process quickly.”
In today’s world, businesses need to move quickly. Employers who are bringing high quality jobs need know they have the ability to get a fast track on development — or they will move on to another site, explains Scott Somers, city council member for Mesa’s District 6, which includes the Gateway area.
The region has already begun to land at the top of site selection lists, including as a finalist for Apple’s recent search for the right site in Arizona.
“DMB has been aggressive in pursuing employers in partnership with us. They have demonstrated a willingness to align partners to get deals done,” says Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), which worked with DMB on securing a deal to keep First Solar in the Valley.
“Eastmark has a unique ability to attract major employers because of the compelling vision — a stellar location in the Gateway Area, a planning framework that allows large and small scale employment in an amenity-rich site, and a developer who will help companies move through the planning process quickly,” Broome says.
In addition to the regional and national economic development efforts DMB has undertaken, it is also working on a number of educational and healthcare partnerships for Eastmark. Each of DMB’s master-planned communities features a partnership with local healthcare and lifelong learning institutions as a foundation for the community life programming being developed now.
“Fast forward to 2040, when Arizona is home to more than 9 million people,” Taylor predicts. “Our goal is to have Arizona’s most innovative, most creative companies calling Eastmark home, for thousands of people to play in our Great Park every afternoon, and for a second generation of families to be making their life in Eastmark.”