Rural and Warner Development Raising Eyebrows

Rural and Warner public meeting notice

There’s a whole lot of people interested in the proposed development project at Rural and Warner Roads here in Tempe. While the corner has been a hot topic of discussion in South Tempe for many years, recent news has brought the discussion to new heights around the water coolers, baseball fields, coffee shops, restaurants and homes of people living nearby.

January 2020 update: We do know that Postino won’t be part of the NE corner development as they have purchased the former Tempe Public Market space!

*Update” We are hearing that this deal is all but dead. Lots of issues going on here. The developer, the zoning, etc. Hopefully, a more concrete answer will emerge, soon.

The community has been invited to a public meeting to talk about potential plans for what the future holds for the long vacant corner.

Rural and Warner Public Meeting:

A public meeting will be held Wednesday, May 15th at 6:00 PM at Lecture Hall B at Corona Del Sol High School.

Corona Del Sol is located at Rural and Knox
1001 E Knox Road
Tempe, AZ 85284

The public is invited to share ideas, questions, comments and concerns at this meeting. There will be people involved with the proposed development along with people from the City of Tempe.

For a little more background about what’s going on, here’s the information I posted in a South Tempe Facebook Group on April 29th.

OK, more Rural and Warner info! Everyone wants to now what’s up with the NW corner, right?
A developer has filed an application with the City for a General Plan Amendment from Residential to Commercial and a zoning Map Amendment from Agricultural to Planned Commercial Center-1 and a Development Plan Review for the site plan, landscape plan and building elevations.
They would like to do a “small , boutique, neighborhood-style commercial center.”
A letter was mailed today to the residents who live CLOSE to the proposed development. 
According to the letter, the meeting with DRC at Tempe has not yet been scheduled.
However, mark your calendars for May 15th from 6-7pm. There will be a community meeting in Lecture Hall B at Corona Del Sol HS.
Information should be posted on the site of the lot soon, as well.
I’m hearing of a daycare type center in the NW corner with approx 10,000 sq ft.
There will also be approximately 16,000 sq ft of retail / restaurant space. 
Think cool restaurant / wine bar typ of thing mixed with a coffee shop and or breakfast or lunch option.
This website is the most detailed plan I have seen of any proposed use.”

Rural and Warner public meeting noticeSince that time, a LOT has been happening concerning the future use of the property at Rural and Warner. In fact, information was posted on the lot just a few days later and confirmed that they will have a public meeting on May 15th at 6:00 PM at Corona.

In addition to the public notice at the lot, our local Wrangler News ran a story about the proposed development, and it has been talked about at length on sites like NextDoor and other Facebook groups.

Like many topics, there will always be people who will have to agree to disagree. Some people feel like the lot should remain “agricultural” to protect the integrity of the area and the safety of nearby residents. Other people hope for much more for the corner and many others would simply like something that is a good fit for the neighbors, the entire community and for the owners of the property.

Here’s some of what has been said about the proposed development project. I found these questions / comments on Facebook, NextDoor, etc.

I am resident for 22 years, and the sign For Sale has been there on that lot. It is time to build something. That corner is an eyesore. A small shopping and restaurant would be nice.

We need to hold the developer accountable so that they don’t get cheap and drop in low-budget stucco boxes.”

Why is that overdevelopment is viewed as progress? I for one am not interested in seeing more commercialism in this area. There are more than enough eateries and shopping centers – banks – Circle Ks – blah blah blah. Maybe you feel differently? That’s your right. I believe less is better in this case.

I’ve lived here, 85284, for 26 years. That empty lot has been nothing but dust, weeds and campaign signs…Putting a business there will provide jobs and taxes for our city. I hope it’s going to be a Postinos..I agree it should not be a gas station or tire shop. But developed is better than what is there now.”

I hope that they put something worthwhile in that spot. I can walk to it. I loved it when the Tempe Marketplace café went in, I can walk to a good restaurant nearby and home again. Haven’t had that available for the past 32 years I have lived here. I applaud anything going in I can use and also walk to.”

The thing that people are not thinking about is who is gonna want to eat at a restaurant that is backed up to horse property, or other livestock? Next thing you know everyone will be complaining about smell, flies etc. This is zoned agricultural for a reason. It is not fair to the LONGTIME homeowners in the immediate vicinity to have to fight to be able to keep their properties as they have always known.”

I would like to support this change. I don’t understand how a few people in our zip code can continuously hold that lot hostage.”

Everyone knows this is privately owned property right ? If the neighbors near the corner want to shoot down every possible use for the corner they should get together and buy it and then they can graze horses or plant melons, or create a lovely park they can donate to the city. The redevelopment of the northeast corner with its great new restaurants have only added to increased property values in our little corner of 85284.”

The daycare throws you off. But it could be compatible for parking. They are a daytime spot, and you basically just have people drop kids off and go. So if you owned the complex, this seems like a good tenant.”

I think the developer does know that there’s concern from the community on what happens at that corner and how that corner means a lot to this area,” Bastian said, adding that because developers are aware of concern from the neighborhood, they wouldn’t propose a project that would produce a backlash from the South Tempe community. “There will be about four different buildings over there with parking in the middle and nice quality development,” Bastian said. “It’s not going to be a high rise, and it’s not going to be super high-density.”

Nick Bastian Rural and Warner

In looking closer at the plans, it looks like there will be 5 buildings as part of the development. One appears to be a small drive thru coffee shop at 804 square feet. The largest pad is 10,000 square feet at the NW corner of the lot and is mentioned as being a daycare center. Along Warner Road, there is a pad that will be 7221 square feet. Along Rural Road, there’s two pads of 4807 and 3920 square feet. I believe the spaces along Rural and Warner will be restaurants. The talk for those spots is mostly wine bar, breakfast restaurant and the like. It seems like everyone is convinced that Postinos is a done deal for the space along Warner. At this point, we are hearing that no lease has been signed for the restaurants and announcements will be made in the future once a few more hurdles have been cleared.

Warner and Rural site plan

Proposed Site Plan

Jennifer Eggert from Orion Investment Real Estate tells Wrangler News that “At the moment, we can confirm there will be a daycare user and at least one restaurant and we will be targeting other high-end service users (hair salon, yoga, waxing, etc.) for the remaining space, along with coffee and potentially one other restaurant but we cannot disclose names at this time.”

We’ll post updates here after the meeting on the 15th and more as we hear any additional details from the city.

Stick around, this is going to be interesting…

Notes from May 15th Public Meeting:

The owner and developer want to build a “neighborhood center” with a restaurant and retail combination
At one point in the conversation, we were told that they are looking to create something that is not completely backing to the neighborhood. The design is intended to create as much of a buffer with the neighborhood as possible. We also heard that they want to create a “destination” type of project.
Think, outdoor seating, walk able, neighborhood amenities for the community. The current trend in the market for centers in this kind of location has moved from large buildings full of retail and it has grown towards being more dependent on service businesses and restaurant space. That’s kind of known as the Amazon effect.
All conversations with the City seems to reflect that they (the City) wants to see something exceptional at this location. We certainly get that feeling when talking to most people about this corner.
Once the application is made with the city, we could be looking at another 6 months. They still need to address zoning, parking, drainage, etc. and will go to staff with these items. There will be more of a public hearing process. I think they are hoping for late Summer to get to that point and then another 6 months for review? We probably won’t see any digging at Rural and Warner for another year, or so.
Several potential tenants are interested in the center and they are past the letter of intent phase on some of the spaces. Once their anchor tenant is ready to announce their move, it should be followed by more people signing their leases.
All they would really say is that the tenant is a local restaurant with a great reputation. They won’t yet say who their main target is, but just about everyone already knows who it is.
Overall, the parking model is supported by the city of Tempe.  There are currently 145 parking spaces. 50 are shared.
Deed restrictions, developer promises, etc…
The change to the cc&r’s was allowed by State statute. And a signature gathering.
This change makes it possible for developer to ask for the zoning change without the permission of Tally Ho Farms. (document will be posted here soon)
Part of the commercial zoning change could technically allow for more than the single level builds we have seen as part of the current plan. We are told that the developer will be requesting to restrict themselves to single story. Stipulations in their site plan will call for a single level use.
It was said that people tend to agree that this vacant lot isn’t appropriate for residential developments. We don’t want high density at Rural and Warner.
Someone asked if there is any way for them to promise that there will be no parking on 71st Street? He admits that would be an unreasonable expectation, but they would like to work with the city to post no parking signs and to maybe stripe the streets to help keep people out of the neighborhood. Basically, the developer would have a hard time controlling where the public parks their cars.
Will there be bike parking? Yes. Will there be horse parking? Um, that one caught him by surprise!
Any public meeting space? Possibly. The patio is designed for gathering space. It will be a larger space than what is found at the Market.
We should soon have better drawings of the exterior and the streetscape.
Coffee shop hours are said the be from 5am to 9pm.
After 6 months, they go to another 6 month plan and review before they start any construction.
No scheduled zoning hearing yet but they think it should be in the summer. Possibly July.
Will the development have an impact of property values? They believe so. Successful projects like this have changed the character of the area and raised property values when done properly in other locations.
“What’s planned should be a benefit to the neighborhood.”
Noise of patio will go towards street instead of to the neighborhood.
Class AAA property. A lot of money is being spent on construction and design. The developer is not seeking any tax incentives.
I believe they said the name of the daycare center is The Learning Experience. They are signing a 15 year lease.
More to come…
**Update – As of September we are hearing that this deal is dead but that another developer is looking to take on the project. Some similar players are sticking with it. Time will tell, but this one is interesting to watch, for sure.
Nick Bastian
Nick Bastian
Nick Bastian is a 31 year veteran of the real estate industry and enjoys his career very much. Nick is always available to "talk shop" with anyone that may have real estate related questions. "Just Call Nick" at 602-803-NICK (6425) - he's glad to help. Nick can also be found over on Instagram and Twitter ( @NickbastianAZ ) or out and about in the community making friends and having some fun.

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