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Uptown Plaza lands Shake Shack & Flower Child

Vintage Partners, the Arizona-based commercial real estate development and investment company, has announced a pair of exciting new tenants joining the redevelopment efforts at Uptown Plaza, the landmark 1955 shopping center in central Phoenix on the NE corner of Central Avenue & Camelback Road. Scheduled to open in late 2015/early 2016, the newest additions will include the second Arizona location of the famed NYC-based, Danny Meyer crafted Shake Shack restaurant, and the third location of Fox Restaurant Concepts’ popular Flower Child. Along with existing Uptown Plaza tenants such as AJ’s Fine Foods, these new restaurants will help restore this stylish shopping center’s unique mix of local, region and national stores that serve a need for the residents of north-central Phoenix.

Launched in 2001 as a simple hotdog cart in a Manhattan park by one of the world’s premier restaurateurs (yes, you, Danny Meyer), Shake Shake serves up high quality versions of classic American roadside eats. As only the fourth Shake Shack west of the Mississippi, patrons at the Phoenix location will enjoy all the Shack classics, from delicious 100% all-natural, antibiotic-free Angus beef burgers (no hormones added ever) and griddled-crisp flat-top dogs to crispy crinkle cut fries, plus a selection of fresh-made frozen custard concretes featuring local Valley purveyors. Also coming to Uptown Plaza, Flower Child is one of the newest offerings from Fox Restaurants Concepts, which began with a single restaurant in Tucson in 1998 and has since grown to include 15 concepts and 40 locations and counting. Flower Child offers healthy food for a happy world and will be located on the southern side of the center.

What kicked off in late 2014 continues today as Uptown Plaza’s property-wide renovation restores the stylish, brick-lined midcentury modern look to this iconic shopping center constructed in 1955 by the Del Webb Co. as the Valley’s first retail center located outside of downtown Phoenix. To accomplish this goal, the owners of Uptown Plaza charged Vintage Partners with, “carefully renovating and re-merchandizing this this landmark property to restore Uptown Plaza as one of the Valley’s most desirable retail destinations,” says Vintage Partners Principal, David Scholl. To accomplish these goals, Vintage Partners has assembled an all-star renovation team, including designer, Nelsen Partners (Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter), builder Kitchell Contractors and landscape architect Kristina Floor of Floor & Associates. Furthermore, Vintage Partners has partnered with the renowned Phoenix furniture design boutique, Modern Manor, to help restore the center’s signature 1950s style by incorporating a mix of vintage and custom furnishings, outdoor seating, lighting and other elements that are historically authentic, yet fashionably modern.

Scheduled for completion in fall 2015, with additional tenants to be announced later this summer, Phase 1 of the Uptown Plaza restoration is well underway. Starting with peeling away decades of stucco and clutter, during the delicate demolition process the design team has already uncovered 50’s-era details such as original hand-painted signage on the red brick storefronts. “We’re working to ensure that Uptown Plaza will once again be a neighborhood landmark that will thrive for generations to come,” Scholl says.

SanTan Brewing Company
Photo by Mike Mertes, Az Big Media

Breweries tap into adaptive reuse of retail

Fifty-four-year-old Walter Crutchfield, principal and co-founding member of Phoenix-based development company Vintage Partners, is sipping on Oskar Blues Breweries’ Dale’s Pale Ale. It’s one of the beers hooked up to his office’s commercial grade tap, where craft beer flows often.

“It’s a true American industry,” Crutchfield says. In the last five years, the craft beer industry has grown 15 percent. He attributes this to Millennials turning 21 in a time when hop-forward flavored beers were trendy.

Crutchfield’s partner, Dave Scholl, testified for the passage of Senate Bill 1030, which would give Arizona’s 72 breweries the highest barrel cap in the country, and Vintage Partners approached the International Council of Shopping Centers’ lobbyists to support the bill.

“We recognized that you have 300 empty big boxes,” Crutchfield says. “The next generation of tenants is where real estate is. People got stuck on Target coming back. It didn’t. If we don’t think about cultivating the next generation of tenants, we won’t have those tenants.”

Vintage Partners, which has recently taken on renovating Uptown Plaza — a retail center that was once the epicenter of action in the ‘50s —is focusing on attracting breweries as tenants. While talking to local breweries about space, he says they mentioned being “stuck” by the then-current bill in terms of expansion.

“There’s no project we have that we’re not having some discussion with brewery or brewpub,” he says.

The dynamic of Uptown Plaza, he says, has flipped from being predominantly national tenants selling soft goods (such as clothing) to a gathering place where local shops and restaurants are the anchor tenants. In 2011, Arizona had 35 breweries that created $600M in direct economic impact and $1.2B in indirect economic impact. For every job held by a brewer, 45 jobs are created to support it.

There are some limitations breweries are facing while looking for adaptive reuse projects. Ceilings, says Brian Kocour, senior director of retail brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield, need to be 18 to 20 feet high to accommodate kettles and brewery systems. Though he says he’d like to see a “true brewery” in downtown Phoenix — potentially in the Luhrs building, where he’s currently leasing — he notes that older industrial buildings are not making the cut in downtown Phoenix. Nano breweries, such as Mother Bunch Brewing, are having better luck.

Breweries are also looking at nightlife hot spots like Old Town Scottsdale, where Chicago’s Two Brothers Brewing Company just opened in the former Saddle Ranch building. The two-story building was already tall, but the surface area available for seating was precious. Architect Erik Peterson, of PHX Architecture, says the firm decided to have the brewing “floating” between the floors and above the bar as a spectacle of a design feature as much as a necessary one.

“Every restaurant and bar is scouring the Valley for any sort of building with character,” he says. “We hear from restaurateurs that they’re visiting all buildings available through Scottsdale, Chandler and Phoenix to find those unique spaces that have open truss work or brick work to adapt for their restaurant … Even the ones that are coming from ground-up are incorporating things that make them look like old warehouses.”

It’s ultimately more expensive to make a building look old, Peterson says. The textured aesthetic created by brick, trusses and wood beams are atypical building features today.

Brewers are a bit romantic about the bones of a building and its story, says Rob Fullmer, executive director of Arizona Craft Beer Guild. Fullmer, before he turned his beer hobby into a career, worked in urban development, public policy and architecture, but he’s not alone. Brewers are constantly eyeing buildings with stories that often get incorporated into the product. For example, San Tan Brewing Company moved into a former Valley Bank building and has a “From the Vault” series of beer. Quite a few breweries are drooling over the former music store, Circles, in downtown Phoenix. For the rest of the people who may need to “manufacture” their brick-and-beer building, this could be the cause of delay in expansion plans.

“People don’t run businesses waiting for laws to pass,” Fullmer says. “They generally like to have a five- to 10-year plan. If they have a brewery in another state, they’re already planning somewhere else in five to 10 years. This bill puts us on the list of available places. It won’t have an immediate effect.”

The story of the bill itself was high profile in the brewing world, Fullmer says, adding that during a recent visit to Portland the story resonated with local brewers in Oregon.

Vintage Partners, Kitchell and RSP Architects will construct an Alamo Drafthouse in Chandler. Courtesy RSP Architects

Chandler entertainment district gets 60KSF upgrade with The Row

Vintage Partners, the Phoenix-based commercial real estate development and investment company, announced its selection by the Chandler City Council to develop the The Row in downtown Chandler’s newly designated entertainment district, an all-new mixed used project on the SW corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard. Created in partnership with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, this stylish and pedestrian friendly 60KSF, two-story mixed-used development will be the heart and soul of the new Downtown Chandler Entertainment District when the first phase opens in Q4 2015. Highlights will include the Alamo Drafthouse Chandler, an eight-screen theatre and adjacent bar & restaurant that will serve as the first Arizona location of this iconic Austin, Tex.-based chain boasting 19 locations nationwide. Furthermore, this development will showcase a wide variety of exciting local dining options.
The Row was selected by the Chandler City Council following a rigorous open application process to determine the best way to develop this prominent, 4-acre site. Along with Vintage Partners and Alamo Drafthouse, project partners include former Chandler City Councilman Martin Sepulveda, RSP Architects and Kitchell Development.

“The Vintage Partners team has all lived and worked in the Valley for decades, so we’re committed to delivering a world-class entertainment district to Chandler’s already vibrant downtown,” says David Scholl, Vintage Partners principle heading the downtown Chandler efforts. “Our goal is to bridge the gap between the historic downtown to the south and the more suburban area just north, to create a unique, energetic gathering place that still looks like it belongs.”  Scholl, a former executive vice president of Westcor, helped spearhead the creation of the Chandler Fashion Center before becoming a principle and forming Vintage Partners in 2011 with a collective portfolio that’s delivered more than 14 million sq.-ft. of retail development and 60,000-acres of single-family residential projects.

The City of Chandler leadership helped pave the way for this project to come to life.

“We were looking for a signature project to act as an entryway to Downtown, and I believe this project fits,” said Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “Council just designated the area as an entertainment district, and this will be an excellent fit for Downtown as we continue to grow as a destination.”

“[We’ve] been looking for the perfect site for our first venue in Arizona and finally found it in Downtown Chandler,” says Alamo Drafthouse Chandler partner, Craig Paschich. “With the energy invested in downtown Chandler by the City and the area’s already impressive growth, we couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to bring the first cinema eatery to downtown Chandler adding to the area’s vibrant restaurant and retail landscape.” Alamo Drafthouse has earned accolades like “Best Theater Ever” (Time Magazine) and “the coolest theater in the world” (Wired).

The initial phase of the downtown Chandler development will include additional space for restaurants, retail and offices, with the potential to add up to 50 residences, plus additional spaces for a fitness center or yoga studio and a parking garage.

Courtesy of MMPR Marketing

Vintage Partners to redevelop ’50s era shopping center

Vintage Partners, the Arizona-based commercial real estate development and investment company, announced its selection by Uptown Plaza Associates, LLC to lead the redevelopment of Uptown Plaza, the landmark 1950s era shopping center in central Phoenix on the NE corner of Central Avenue and Camelback Road.  Kicking off with a groundbreaking in September 2014 (exactly 59 years after Uptown Plaza’s original grand opening), this mindful renovation will restore the stylish, brick-lined Mid-Century Modern look to this iconic shopping center constructed in 1955 by the Del Webb Co. as the Valley’s first retail center located outside of downtown Phoenix. Most important, Vintage Partners is committed to recreating Uptown Plaza’s historic mix of inspired local restaurants and boutiques, thoughtfully paired with national brands, that together serve the needs of the neighborhood and make this shopping center a destination for Central Phoenix residents.

“Uptown Plaza Opens Wonderful New World Of Shopping Pleasure In Arizona’s Capital City” trumpeted the headlines back in 1955, noting the “record-breaking flow of cars and customers” drawn to this “modern brick, masonry and steel construction” with innovative features such as “the opportunity to park the family car free of care or cost … and walk a galaxy of new and shining stores,” while savoring the “attractive display windows brightly lighted for the evening window shopper until 11 o’clock each night.” And while this suburban shopping mall might have been a revolutionary experience at the time, it was the vibrant, wholly unique tenant mix that truly made Uptown Plaza a must visit.  Including the swanky Navarre’s restaurant (currently Sweet Tomato’s) and the super-sleek Helsing’s Coffee Shop (demolished), Uptown was home to everything from Jerand’s of Arizona fine fashions and Bostrom’s department store, to the national grocery chain, Piggly Wiggly (currently AJ’s Fine Foods).
Today, however, Uptown Plaza is literally a shell of its old self, buried under decades of stucco and other outdated ‘improvements,’ and suffering from chronic vacancy due to its economic and physical obsolescence, says Vintage Partners Principal, David Scholl. “As longtime Phoenix residents and specialist in retail development, we felt this landmark property needed an infusion of capital and a carefully thought out renovation and re-merchandizing to restore Uptown Plaza as one of the Valley’s most desirable retail destinations.”

Designed by Nelsen Partners (Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter), the renovation plans are still being finalized as Vintage Partners and builder Kitchell Contractors determine how much of the original red brick façade (including many interior walls) can be preserved. However, the end results will combine a restoration of the classic lines and low-slung shapes with verdant new landscaping and modern amenities, including rebuilding the original 15-foot shade overhangs with cantilevers to achieve a sleeker, less cluttered look. In the near future, Vintage Partners will also be announcing plans for new tenants, including restaurant concepts from top local restaurateurs.

“We’re working with existing tenants, as well as securing the best mix of new local and national tenants to ensure that Uptown Plaza once again will thrive for generations to come,” Scholl says.

Marina Heights is a development partnership between Ryan Companies and Sunbelt Holdings. Fellow Valley Partnership member Cushman & Wakefield was awarded the leasing assignment.

A valley of partners

Partner-to-partner transactions building up the valley
one project at a time

When Valley Partnership was founded 27 years ago, it was on the principles of responsible development. It has since grown to thousands of members throughout the commercial real estate community — from subcontractors to some of the largest developers in Arizona.

Eastmark includes a partnership between DMB Associates and Marham COntracting Co.

Eastmark includes a partnership between DMB Associates and Markham Contracting Co.

“In 2014 and beyond, Valley Partnership developer companies are the leaders of almost every major commercial real estate project announced, including Marina Heights, the numerous announcements of deals at Eastmark, and Liberty Center at Rio Salado,” says Valley Partnership President and CEO Richard Hubbard.

The members have rallied behind the idea of partnership, Hubbard says.

“These developers use Valley Partnership partners for all construction disciplines related to the project including planning, design, architecture, general contracting, engineering and even law and accounting,” Hubbard says. “Many of those ‘partner-to-partner’ transactions have come from long-standing relationships created through Valley Partnership. I would say that every level of partner in Valley Partnership, from board member to sole proprietor, is participating in the current commercial real estate building activity in the Valley.”

Some companies, such as Evergreen Devco, take the partner-to-partner very seriously.

Valley Partnership Chair of the Board Doug Leventhal is the principal and COO of Evergreen Devco. Though Evergreen has focused much of its recent work in Denver, the company finds exclusive value in partnership with fellow VP members for Arizona projects.

“I can say that for all our Arizona work, we tend to work exclusively with the companies that see the value in Valley Partnership and either are active members or active sponsors,” Leventhal says. “Our general contractors, for example, need to be members or sponsors almost as a prerequisite to getting our business. Our architects, engineers, attorneys and title companies need to be members of Valley Partnership — or have a good reason why they are not! It’s important to Evergreen that we collectively support Valley Partnership since we all benefit from its mission to promote responsible development in the Valley. We are all connected in this unique way.”

Liberty Center at Rio Salado is a partnership between Liberty Property Trust and Markham Contracting Co.

Liberty Center at Rio Salado is a partnership between Liberty Property Trust and Markham Contracting Co.

That unique connection, as DMB Associates President Charley Freericks sees it involves Valley Partnership’s advocacy role for developers as well as a genuine passion for making Arizona a great place to live.

“Valley Partnership understands that real estate isn’t the only driver of the economy,” says Freericks. “We are the beneficiaries of a strong and growing economy and it’s in our interest to make this a great place to live.”

Freericks, who has been a member for 10 years, served on the board of directors, was chairman in 2009, and has sat on multiple committees.

Most of DMB Associates’ partners at the developers’ 6,000-acre masterplanned community of Eastmark – and around the Valley – are Valley Partnership members, Freericks says.

“Over the years, we have worked with so many contractors, consultants and service providers who are members it would be hard to name them all,” he says. “In fact it might be difficult to find any that aren’t members.”

Valley Partnership has multiple avenues for paving those partnerships. There are 10 committees, including one for an annual golf tournament and a community building project. One of the most popular and frequent member events, is the Friday Morning Breakfasts — a monthly morning panel discussion about an industry trend featuring local experts.

Freericks reflected on a breakfast about the impact and trade partnership Arizona has with Canada as a particularly helpful one for his masterplanned communities of Eastmark and Victory at Verrado, which target Canadian homebuyers.

“Valley Partnership attracts important speakers and hosts debates of candidates for state and local offices which helps me make better informed decisions,” he says. “The Valley Partnership advocacy team was a huge help to the Fighter Country Partnership efforts to bring the F-35 mission to Luke. This will impact our economy for generations to come. Valley Partnership’s role as the champion for moderate regulation has impacted all of our properties over the years and will continue to do so.”

Heather Markham, vice president of Markham Contracting Co., says her company has been a member of Valley Partnership since 1992 and is also a Stewardship Sponsor. Markham has attended breakfasts for the last five years and is one of the students in Valley Partnership’s inaugural Young Advocates Program. As a co-chair of the Community Project Committee, Markham says she also appreciate’s Valley Partnership’s commitment to networking and giving back to the community.

“I believe this involvement in the community is critical personally as well as professionally for everyone,” she says.

Markham has been self performing grading, paving and wet utilities civil infrastructure in the Southwest since 1977. Though Valley Partnership has only been around since 1987, Markham says the company has worked with many current Valley Partnership companies for nearly four decades. Partners include DMB Associates (Verrado and Eastmark), Macerich (Sonoran Crossing), Sunbelt Holdings (Vistancia), APS, Grayhawk Development, Lennar, Vintage Partners, MT Builders, HilgartWilson, Pulte, Atwell, Dibble Engineering, Wood Patel & Associates, Hoskin & Ryan, Siteworks, Speedie & Associates, Trench Shore Rentals, Alliance Bank of Arizona and Cemex.

“Valley Partnership plays a very strong role in responsible development of the commercial real estate community and provides an excellent venue for all the stakeholders in the process to come together and discuss issues and concerns as well as success stories,” she says. “This promotes strong partnerships between cities, counties, towns, state, land owners, developers, contractors, architects, engineers and every trade partner involved in making Arizona a great place to live and work.”