Surprise officials said Wednesday they view the opening of Walmart at the Prasada development in Surprise as a catalyst for job creation in the city and the impetus for large-scale economic growth.
“This project will put Surprise on the map,” said Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “It’s another sign that business development is booming along the Loop 303 and in our community.”
While the economic downturn affected major portions of Prasada — full build out isn’t expected until 2017 — Wednesday’s ribbon cutting at Walmart was viewed as the springboard that the slow-developing project needed to become a major retail location for cars, groceries, electronics and more.
Walmart’s opening at Loop 303 and Waddell Road in west Surprise creates 200 new jobs at the 148,000-square-foot retail center, which in addition to clothing, electronics and household supplies also boasts a grocery component and a McDonald’s restaurant.
Wednesday’s grand opening featured remarks from company executives and city leaders, as well as an opportunity for the major retailer to give back to the community by way of charitable contributions totaling more than $6,200.
Walmart officials said they believe great things are in store, both in the immediate and near future.
“We expect, as the store grows, especially with the completion of the Loop 303 and the surrounding Prasada development, we will no doubt be hiring more employees,” store manager Charlie Zaldo said in an earlier phone interview.
In addition to providing area residents another choice for shopping, Zaldo said the opening of Walmart in communities across the country provides a ripple effect for other retailers to locate there as they compete to attract customers who enjoy shopping for household items under one roof.
“With the opening of their newest store, Walmart continues to be a big part of the positive economic development narrative for the city,” said David Moss, president and CEO of the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce. “This is great news for the city, great news for the business community and great news for the residents.”
Prasada, straddling Loop 303 between Cactus and Waddell roads, is anticipated to be one of the largest retail projects of its kind in Arizona and is expected to create opportunities for new housing developments in the area that, today, sits on swaths of farm land.
Fry’s Marketplace serves as the anchor tenant of an already opened retail center at Greenway Road and Cotton Lane. The plaza also features Angel Touch Nails, Cricket Wireless, First Bank of Arizona, Great Clips, Greenway Cotton Chiropractic, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, No. 1 Brothers Pizza, Subway and Yogurtz.
Target is anticipated to open sometime in 2012, while a consortium of auto dealers also plan to open shop in the coming years, said Kimberly Hastings, a spokeswoman for Westcor, the developer of the project.
Sands Chevrolet and Sands Kia have opened their doors for business, and city officials have said plans are in place for Coulter Nissan to feature its line of vehicles sometime in 2012. There are no timetables in place, however, for planned dealerships for Ford, Buick/GMC, Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge, Toyota and Scion.
Hastings said Prasada will also encompass a comprehensive medical and office plaza, with plans for a hospital or medical campus on 100 acres on the west side of Loop 303. Meantime, office space will be featured at some point on the east side of the freeway.
All in all, city officials believe the wait and financial incentives expected to benefit Surprise will be worth it when the $1.6 billion project is complete.
Assistant City Manager Jeff Mihelich has said the project that came on the drawing board in 2005 will have a tremendous economic impact for Surprise in the coming years.
Mihelich said the Prasada project, complete with retail, auto dealers, restaurants and office space on 3,400 acres of land, is expected to pour in $40 million annually to city coffers, while creating nearly 19,000 jobs.
Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.