If you drive along the 101 Freeway in Scottsdale, you cannot miss the 60-foot tall concrete tilt walls standing upright just north of Via De Ventura. Anchored by one of the largest, most technologically advanced indoor aquariums to be constructed in the United States, OdySea in the Desert has now released its first wave of retailers who are committed to the developers ultimate vision of combining retail, entertainment, music, food and drinks.

Once a mix of undeveloped farmland and open desert, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has been transforming into a thriving multi-purpose entertainment district which combines shopping and entertainment opportunities suitable for a variety of different uses including OdySea Aquarium. In recent years, the stretch of land along Loop 101 between Indian Bend and Shea has become home to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball Spring Training Complex, Top Golf at Riverwalk, Talking Stick Resort and Casino, Butterfly Wonderland and now OdySea in the Desert.

OdySea in the Desert is a 35-acre, multi-level, quarter billion dollar mixed use retail entertainment complex. The development features a 200,000 square foot state of the art aquarium, 77,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants, a 40,000 square foot Butterfly Wonderland, a 180’ tall sky wheel, a 78’ indoor sky-diving facility and a 4-acre flagship water based attraction described by project officials as the Aquatic Oasis.

The Shops at OdySea in the Desert offer retail and restaurant suites ranging from 1,000 to 6,500 square feet and will host innovative concepts from some of the world’s top restaurateurs and retail brands. The first floor will cater to retailers offering fun, hands-on interactive shopping, while the main level will house an array of unique, high-energy restaurants for visitors seeking an extraordinary culinary experience. Locally-based real estate company, ORION Investment Real Estate, has been working in tandem with the developer over the past several months to complete the leasing of the project.

Adam Lopez, ORION’s Vice President of Leasing noted, “Opening a retail shop or restaurant at The Shops at OdySea in the Desert is a once in a life time opportunity! We are thrilled to be announcing our first wave of retailers committed to the project and equally excited to announce many more to come!” In addition to high-end Seafood, Steakhouse, and Asian concepts, the project will also house family-friendly staples like Johnny Rockets and an old fashioned Ice Cream Parlor.

“We are focused on completing the developer’s vision of creating a fun and unique dining experience designed to attract everyone’s palate. We are rounding out a restaurant line-up that will have a cuisine type from everywhere in the world. A condensed EPCOT Center is the vision!,” says ORION President, Ari Spiro. The latest restaurant tenant to commit to the project is Humble Pie. “We had numerous interested pizza restaurants, but Humble Pie was a great addition as their lively, hip and high-end image, yet family-friendly is what this project embodies,” continued Spiro.

ORION has been promoting the project for only the past 4 months and has attained lease commitments for over 50% of the project with an additional 32% in pre-lease negotiations. “We are really excited to see our leasing and marketing strategy take flight. In a very short time frame, we have signed interactive retail concepts, such as an Arizona General Store and Trading Post who offers products unique to Arizona, an indoor carnival carousel, a glass shop where they will be blowing glass on site, an interactive candy store, an indoor ice bar and playground featuring Rita’s Frozen Ice, a high-end jeweler and a create-your-own custom toy store. It is all about creating an experience!”

The Shops at OdySea in the Desert represent the changing face of retail, blending entertainment and the shopping experience. “Top Retail brands have been evolving. They are looking for ways to create a more dynamic, entertaining atmosphere in order to get their customers interested in their product,” says Lopez. “The Shops at OdySea in the Desert is at the nucleus of this one-of-a-kind entertainment project in the heart of the Entertainment District in Arizona,” continues Spiro.

Though leasing up quickly, ORION says they are particularly interested in attracting operators in the sports bar/grills, barbecue, Mexican food, vegetarian/vegan and coffee categories. Lopez concludes, “The time is now…we anticipate commitments for the final phase of leasing within the next couple of months.”