Gilbert’s downtown is a dining and nightlife destination, but leaders eye plans to bring people downtown all day

Downtown Gilbert has become something of a dining and nightlife destination for the East Valley, but town leaders are eyeing housing, office and shopping plans in hopes it will keep people downtown all day long.


One plan gaining steam would bring a mix of those to nine acres of town-owned land at the north end of the Heritage District, as Gilbert calls its downtown.


Another project called for building a four-story building with office space, a restaurant and a rooftop bar, but has gone back to the drawing board. The proposal could return to the Town Council early next year.Leaders are getting the ball rolling to develop the furthest south stretch of downtown, too.


“Anybody would tell you that’s been downtown, there’s a need for other things to do, whether that’s retail or entertainment,” Mayor Brigette Peterson said. “When you’re waiting 45 minutes to get into a restaurant, wouldn’t it be nice to have some shops to walk through?”


‘Heritage North’ could bring a mix of development


Leaders are looking at what they call the “north anchor” — about nine acres of town-owned land south of Juniper Avenue between Ash Street and Gilbert Road.


The project, which is in its early stages, could have a mix of housing, office space and retail. It would also be the first thing people see if they’re coming into downtown Gilbert from the north.


“When you arrive in the district in the north end, you have that sense of arrival beyond the speed limit slowing you down a little bit. Things get a little more dense, things get a little more pedestrian-friendly,” Gilbert Economic Development Director Dan Henderson said. The town in 2019 signed off on an agreement with developer LGE Design Build to bring a mix of housing, office space and retail to the corner, which is currently a vacant lot. The project is dubbed Heritage North.


Henderson said he sees potential for the area to turn into what’s become known as an “18-hour city.” It’s not the 24/7 activity of a major American city, but it isn’t a bedroom community, either. It’s a place where there’s something to do most hours of the day. He sees this mix of development as a key step in getting there.The developer would not comment.


Henderson said it’s too early to say when the project could break ground or open, although the town first sought proposals for the project in 2018.


When leaders signed off on the plans in 2019, they looked at breaking ground in June 2020. Plans also called for selling the land to the developer. Henderson said the town has not yet sold the land.  


Further south, 1 plan goes back to the drawing board and another begins


Further south on Gilbert Road, between Liberty Market and Norwood Furniture, plans have stalled for a similar development.


The Town Council in August reviewed plans for a development dubbed the Brundrett Building. The main sticking point: the proposed buildings would have been taller than what the area’s zoning allows and could have impacted the view of the town’s iconic water tower.


After several residents and nearby business owners asked the council to deny the rezoning because of the height issue, Gilbert elected officials unanimously voted to table the proposal until January so the property owner could resubmit its plans.


Even further south, the town recently put out a request for proposals from developers to build a “south anchor” on the northwest corner of Gilbert and Elliot roads. Like the project at the north end of downtown, the request says the ideal project will have a mix of uses, including office space, residential and retail.


Reach reporter Joshua Bowling at or 602-444-8138. Follow him on Twitter @MrJoshuaBowling.


SOURCE: Arizona Republic

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