Jonathan J. Higuera

Loop 303 opens up northwest Valley

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When a 14-mile stretch of the Loop 303 opened between Interstate 1-17 and Happy Valley Road in May, developers and economic development officials from Peoria and Glendale were poised to move into action.

They knew all too well how a freeway could spur development; consider the Loop 101 in Glendale and Scottsdale and the development that has occurred along those stretches.

Sunbelt Holdings, which developed the Vistancia residential community in the northwest, is well aware of what a freeway can do. Back in the mid-1990s, it opened McDowell Mountain Ranch in North Scottsdale. At the time, it seemed like an isolated community with leapfrog development written all over it. But by the time the Loop 101 was completed, McDowell Ranch was well positioned for easy freeway access. By 2003, the 3,200-acre, master-planned development was built. 

The completed segment of the Loop 303 signals bigger things ahead for Vistancia and the city of Peoria, home of the residential community. These entities along with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council are unveiling an ambitious plan for a 500-acre commercial development nestled between Vistancia and the Loop 303.

“We’re seeing a lot of major corporate projects that had been on the sidelines the last 36 months in a strong cash position to take advantage of the soft economy and being active again,” said Chris Camacho, executive vice president at the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. 

Sunbelt is doing its part to stimulate interest and paying for the construction of a 1.5-mile stretch of road to connect to the Loop 303 from Vistancia. The multimillion-dollar road project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2012. 

“My purest hope is that it will become an employment core for the city of Peoria and the northwest Valley,” said John Graham, president and CEO of Sunbelt Holdings. 

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