A developer’s latest pitch to rezone 94 acres at the northeast corner of Lindsay and Germann roads to light industrial from business park stirred up traffic concerns last week from nearby homeowners.
The Lindsay 202 project would include glass-front warehouses with trucking bays, an office building and a restaurant/retail pad totaling 1.4 million square feet on the site
“We’re across the street from this,” said Michael Hill, who lives in the Copperleaf subdivision on Germann Road. “I don’t want 149 truck bays across the street no matter how pretty you put the buildings on Germann.”
Others point to safety concerns for a nearby high school and a park with more traffic not only from the trucks but from employees working at the site.
Hill and about 34 others attended the June 7 neighborhood meeting at Campo Verde High School, which sits adjacent to the site. It was the developer’s third neighborhood meeting.
Land-use attorney Adam Baugh, representing developer LGE Design Build and Creations RE, acknowledged that the amount of truck traffic was the biggest concern voiced and said he would do more research to provide concrete facts for neighbors.
According to LGE’s traffic engineer, the estimated daily trips generated from the site if it remained business park would be 12,000 but under the proposed light industrial zoning, those trips would be 5,400, of which 10-15% would be from semi-trucks.
“When you have vacant land, it’s not meant to be vacant forever,” said David E. Sellers of LGE. “What could go there could be a lot more intense. This is the least intensive use we can have on this site.”
Baugh said that under the current zoning buildings as tall as 90 feet are allowed.
He said it makes sense to have the proposed project on the site as it’s near a transportation corridor, the 202.
He added that when the land was zoned for business park use in 2006, the economy has since changed.
Employment users in the Town of Gilbert are consistently asking for the kind of project being proposed, according to Baugh.
And, he said there will be spillover from a Taiwan chipmaker building a $12-billion plant in north Phoneix as companies look to establish in the East Valley, including Gilbert for its highly educated workforce.
Sellers added that based on first quarter stats of this year, there was less than 6% vacancy for this type of product in the Town of Gilbert, which means more light industrial buildings are being leased than built. He pointed to a nearby 250-acre, mixed-used development that he said was having trouble attracting office users.
Potential tenants for the proposed project could include DHL, Intel, NEHP, an engineering construction integrator and Anovo, a pharmaceutical company.
Some of the project’s benefits touted at the meeting included:
• Would generate a total of 3,783 direct, indirect and induced person years of employment based on the estimated total of $280.3 million in direct construction cost.
• Overall, the state, county, and Town of Gilbert would receive an estimated $27.4 million during the construction of the site given the proposed land uses.
• In total, this project would generate an estimated 3,335 total jobs, $165.4 million in annual wages and $696.1 million in annual economic output would be created
• Total operating revenue for the site is estimated at $14.2 million annually. This includes direct sales taxes, real property taxes (for all jurisdictions) and utility taxes as well as secondary revenue impacts generated by employees.
The property would have seven entrances, five off Germann and two off Lindsay.
During construction, which would be done in one phase, there would only be one entrance for work trucks and the project site would be fenced, Sellers said.
Baugh said Sellers won’t buy the property unless the rezone is approved. Sellers said the intent is to develop and hold onto the property.
Baugh expected the project to go to Planning Commission in late summer/early fall and then to Town Council for consideration in December.
The public will get the chance to publicly comment on the project at those meetings, he added.
If approved, the project is expected to take 18 months to build with completion estimated in 2024, according to Baugh.
Tarah Gramza, who also lives in Copperleaf, initially opposed the project but has since relented a bit after she and neighbor Krista VanderMolen met with Sellers to discuss residents’ concerns a month ago.
“Many of these concerns led to changes in design,” Gramza said in an email. “The meeting that occurred last night (June7) came out of one of the recommendations we provided. Krista and I spent large amounts of our off time, prior to sitting down with LGE, researching city code, studying the city plans, interviewing experts not involved in this project, getting community feedback, and researching other public studies in order to truly understand the big picture.”
She said not everyone will be happy with the project but “there are many things behind the scenes that have logically made LGE and investors chose this type of project rather than a business park.”
“I am in support of building value to our community with the least possible negative impact on the homes, students, schools, and fire station,” she said.
“Thinking logically, the zoning change to LI from BP makes more sense based on the Gilbert city plans rather than switching it to other uses.”
But in order to have her support, Gramza said the developer must address the trucking traffic in its design and include a solution that would push truckers to exit onto Lindsay rather than Germann.
“Obviously, we can’t stop all truckers from using Germann but we do believe there are ways to mitigate its use in the design,” she said.