The Wild Horse Pass Development Authority has more than 2,700 acres of land to develop surrounding Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino and while there is no definite long-term goals for the space, officials say they’re open to any development that would make the area a tourist destination.
For now, the group is doing a feasibility study on the area surrounding Phoenix Premium Outlets and is looking for restaurants to lease pads near the outlet mall.
During a Public Policy Speaker Series on Friday, June 7, Kim Young, assistant general manager for Wild Horse Pass Development Authority (WHPDA), mentioned two processes for development on Gila River Indian Community land: individuals can lease a pad to open a business or developers can go through a more thorough process to develop larger amounts of land. All of the land is zoned for commercial use.
There is no definite timeline for developing the land, but Young said WHPDA is already fielding requests for space and is just about ready to go to market to fill it. She envisions the area surrounding Phoenix Premium Outlets to be developed within the next few years.
A master plan for the area does exist, but it was organized before the downturn of the economy, Young said. Some parts of the plan no longer make sense for the area and will take some revision.
Overall, the goal is to make the area a tourist destination. Right now, guests can stay in the hotel while they enjoy golf, the casino, the spa, Rawhide, the Phoenix Premium Outlets, and more. WHPDA has a marketing team that helps connect all of the groups through different stay and play deals. Firebird Raceway is not under WHPDA and has a separate management company, but is still included in some marketing.
The Phoenix Premium Outlets have brought a lot more traffic to the area. Opening weekend set records for some of the 90 retail stores. Young said the plan now is to expand on that traffic. They’ll leave some space in case Phoenix Premium Outlets wishes to expand, and then will fill the rest of the surrounding plats with restaurants both large and small.
To handle the additional traffic, WHPDA is working with a company to develop signs to better direct traffic. Young said anymore outside access roads would have to come from ADOT and they wouldn’t turn those down.
“That would be spectacular for us,” Young said. “We would welcome the opportunity for more access.”
The Gila River Indian land closest to Pecos Road is owned by individual allottees and doesn’t fall under WHPDA’s control. Young said they have not approached those landowners to discuss developing that land.
Joseph Perez, founder of Pangea Development, is working with landowners to develop their land into a city concept. He said he has approached WHPDA about leasing 135 acres near Willis Road, but the process for large development was too strenuous and so he walked away.
“I would say ask for the specific development ordinance procedures and review them extensively,” Perez said. “It is not an easy process. It is an expensive, long process that is not driven by timelines… I would be extremely cautious about the procedures because they are extensive.”
Young said the process for developing larger amounts of land is thorough only to protect the tribe from any liability.
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