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Main Streets

Residents have said that Oro Valley needs a heart: a place to walk, shop, eat and play, to be with friends and family, and that reflects the unique community character. To help address this desire, the Town of Oro Valley has launched the Oro Valley Main Streets project. Together residents, property owners, stakeholders and Town staff will craft and execute a collaborative long-range plan to promote unique areas of economic development and community gathering!

Oro Valley Main Streets will start by focusing on two local commercial areas. One is the area at La Cañada Drive and Lambert Lane, and the other is the area around Oracle Road and First Avenue. The project may also create a connection between the two commercial areas along Lambert Lane. Oro Valley Main Streets will focus on creating family-friendly features and economic development in areas that are already important to the community.

Have you felt skeptical and wondered “Aren’t these areas already built out?” or “Is it possible to change the streets or parking areas?” or “Why do we even need to plan for this?” Check out the ideas below on how to make Main Streets a reality.

Creativity in Design
Although both Main Streets locations are mostly developed, surprisingly about 85% of the land is dedicated to parking and circulation. Thinking imaginatively about the existing layout makes room for new services, shopping and attractions. For instance, creative parking options, along with better transit and bike connections would reduce the need for parking.

Other communities have seen similar growth and change in recent years. Some have retrofitted underutilized shopping centers, redesigned strip malls and even put their large roads on a “diet.” Although we can look to other communities, a unique package of tools will need to be created specifically for Oro Valley.

Public/Private Partnerships
For Main Streets to be successful, the Town of Oro Valley will need to seek out private partners. In public/private partnerships, the Town, businesses and developers share their skills and assets. They work together to deliver something of use for the general public. Through joint effort success becomes more attainable.

For instance, the Town of Oro Valley could incentivize development improvements and public amenities by creating opportunities in the zoning code. The Town could allow more intense development on a site than previously permitted, increasing its value. A private developer could then build new buildings, while also putting in place desirable improvements. The Town could also provide revenue subsidies.

Financing Action
Although many years off, research has already begun on best ways to finance improvements related to Main Streets. Aside from public/private partnerships, other means include regional bonds and Town capital improvement programs that change road and parking infrastructure. Options will be refined in the Improvement Plan.

Economic Development
Lastly, Oro Valley Main Streets is integral to future economic development. To generate employment growth, the Town needs to be an attractive place for businesses and their workforce. National trends show that highly-skilled workers are just as interested in job location and local amenities as the job itself. Oro Valley Main Streets are where food, art, culture, shopping, community and identity come together. Investments in Main Streets will attract new workers and bring economic vitality.

Oro Valley is a relatively new community and has grown steadily since its founding in 1974. The desires of residents have evolved over time. When residents were surveyed in 2013, the #1 thing they enjoyed least about Oro Valley was the distance to or lack of services. Comments included: “a lack of services, stores and amenities,” “doesn’t have a real downtown,” “there’s no central location to meet people,” and/or “everything closes very early.” Additionally, the survey highlighted the top 3 areas of additional focus for Oro Valley to become a more complete or livable community: employment opportunities, shopping opportunities and festivals or cultural events. Oro Valley Main Streets will make Oro Valley a more complete community, bringing services and a town center to the community.

Main Streets is also integral to future economic development. To generate employment growth, the Town needs to be an attractive place for businesses and their workforce. National trends show that highly-skilled workers are just as interested in job location and local amenities as the job itself. They want to live, shop, work and play in one place. The Town of Oro Valley is continuing its standard of excellence by planning for local main streets now. Oro Valley Main Streets will provide current residents with a town center while appealing to new employers and residents for a strong economic future.

For these reasons and others, the Town Council included Main Streets an item in the 2015 Strategic Plan. This plan directs staff to begin crafting the Oro Valley Main Streets project with the community.

Concept Plan (2016)
The first step in the Main Streets project is the Concept Plan. The Concept Plan includes a high-level vision that guides how Oro Valley Main Streets should look, feel and function. The Concept Plan was based on fact-finding and community input. Check out the Stakeholder Interviews Summary Report and Workshop Report and Event Photos for more info. The Concept Plan includes a Vision, three key themes, supporting goals and focus areas, and a big-picture Concept Map.

Improvement Plan (2017)
The Improvement Plan will outline implementation measures for the two separate main street locations. The plan will describe the incremental long-range changes for each location that will achieve the Oro Valley Main Street vision over the coming years. This plan will be based on the Concept Plan and community and stakeholder input. Work on the Improvement Plan will begin in 2017.

Contact one of the staff members helping with this project. They would be happy to answer questions and hear feedback.

Elisa Hamblin, AICP
Long Range Principal Planner

Michael Spaeth, AICP
Senior Planner

Milini Simms