Why this Developer is Focusing on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Reservation

Article originally posted on Phoenix Business Journal on October 8, 2018
 The northeast corner of Loop 101 and 90th Street on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community was the perfect location for Daniel Lupien’s planned 245,000-square-foot, mixed-use office complex.

“It’s one of the last large development tracts along Loop 101,” said Lupien, principal of Palmer Development Group, the project’s master developer. “It has visibility, access. It’s a very well-positioned location.”

Lupien plans to create a four-story office building totaling 210,000 square feet, plus 35,000 square feet of freestanding restaurant and retail space on 15 acres in a development called the Edge.

“We envision it to be a flagship, iconic development,” Lupien said. “The southern portion of the parcel is probably one of the most prominent pad sites in the Valley. It’s a good site between the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Scottsdale. We are envisioning it being an incredible focal point.”

Construction on the Edge, which Lupien expects to cost about $70 million, should begin in a year. He plans to start marketing the development for tenants in November.

Recently, Lupien focused his development efforts to the reservation east of Scottsdale, which has been “very favorable to work with,” he said. He is also developing the Block, a 120,000-square-foot, mixed-use development on the northwest corner of Loop 101 and Via de Ventura on the reservation.

The Block is almost fully pre-leased for standalone pads, and 65 percent subscribed for shop tenants, Lupien said. He plans to deliver pads for some major tenants, including White Castle and Texas Roadhouse, in December and deliver shop spaces in March.

Lupien said it took almost a year and a half to “educate the market” and get tenants interested in bringing their business to the reservation.

“There is incredible traffic, entertainment and employment components,” he said of the area, adding there are between 8 million and 9 million annual visitors to entertainment destinations in the area, such as Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

The area also offers more acreage, which can come at a premium in areas that are more built out.

“If you’re looking for a pad with 100 parking spots in Scottsdale, it’s difficult to find,” he said.

Development on the reservation is done through long-term leases, because owning land in the community is limited to community members. Living on the tribal land is also limited to community members, so it has become a popular destination for commercial development.