Project Almost 20 Years in Making; Capstone to Agritopia and Johnston Family Legacy
After raising the bar on creating residential communities and also the future of retail, the owners behind Agritopia and Barnone are announcing the next chapter in the Agritopia story. Epicenter, located in Gilbert, aims to set new expectations for mixed use developments in the Valley by drawing all Arizona-based tenants, which it is calling a “Celebrating Arizona” destination, to a dense suburban area. Many of the tenants will be first-time business owners who create new retail experiences for the customer, appealing to the new way people shop, live and enjoy.
Johnston Properties (the owners behind Agritopia and Barnone) has entered into a joint venture agreement with IPA/Liv Communities to develop Epicenter on 19.7 acres on the northwest corner of Ray and Higley roads next to Agritopia and Barnone.
Epicenter will encompass 55,000 square feet of retail space and 287 residential units (300,000 square feet) in 4, four-story buildings. The residential units range from 500-square-foot studios to 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom apartments and also +/- 1700 square-foot, two-bedroom penthouse apartments. Construction is breaking ground this fall with completion expected in 2019.
Johnston Properties’ envisions Epicenter drawing all of its tenants from across Arizona, including Flagstaff and Tucson. Some of the businesses will be operating for the first time or offering new concepts from existing shops. About half of the estimated 30 tenants will be food-based concepts.
In addition to restaurants and retail, the tenants will focus on improving health and wellness services for area residents. The mixed used development will feature custom storefronts tailored for businesses. Retail will be visible on the first floor.
The first round of restaurant tenants are: Obon Sushi & Ramen, a contemporary sushi restaurant based in Tucson; Bird Southern Table & Bar, a Tucson-based restaurant with southern offerings and modern updates to old concepts; Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup, a local Phoenix restaurant opening its first Gilbert location at Epicenter; and the Rice Shop, created by seasoned operators who are opening their first location.
Additional new tenants: Dr. Worden, an Arizona-based physician and global health educator focused on integrated medicine; The Yoga Center, a local start-up business by an experienced instructor; Cycle Ave, a stand alone concept from the operators offunkfit.com; and Vintage Home, a new to retail business offering refurbished and original mid-century modern furniture that had previously operated online and out of the owner’s garage.
Epicenter is being designed so the retail and multifamily each have separate parking, utilities and landscaping. The site is designed for users to arrive in cars and experience the retail while walking.
“Epicenter is the capstone to my family’s legacy in Gilbert where we’ve been farming since the 1960s,” said William Johnston. “We can’t think of a better project for the current marketplace than Epicenter, which will add value to Gilbert and the East Valley, set new standards of mixed use development and promote Arizona-based businesses. This is the biggest and most unique project we’ve ever done.”
Johnston has been planning and dreaming of Epicenter for almost 20 years, exploring multiple iterations of the concept, while developing Agritopia, a community of 450 residential lots with commercial properties developed on his family’s farmland. While downtown Gilbert and San Tan Valley have created identities, the time is right to develop Epicenter as the area’s identity emerges, Johnston said.
The area has some of the strongest demographics in the state for this type of mixed-use destination. About 100,000 people are located within three miles of the intersection, according to the Gilbert Office of Economic Development (Environmental Systems Research Institute “ESRI,” 2017). The median age is 31.4 and average household size is 3.53 (ESRI, 2017). The median household income is more than 85,000, according to ESRI, 2017.
“Johnston Properties is known for developing properties that create a unique experience for residents and visitors alike. Gilbert is a strong supporter of the entrepreneurial spirit and we are thrilled that Epicenter will be a destination for people to experience locally grown businesses from all around the state,” said Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels.
“Over the next 10 years, Epicenter is projected to directly and indirectly support approximately 258 jobs, generate $7.9 million in annual personal income in Gilbert, and have an economic impact of over $170 million to the Gilbert community. We are delighted to see this next phase of the Agritopia vision develop and add it to Gilbert’s list of one-of-a-kind amenities,” said Dan Henderson, Director of the Gilbert Office of Economic Development.
IPA/Liv Communities is the developer, owner and operator of their Liv multifamily and Liv Generations senior living communities designed with the purpose of helping residents and team members live fuller lives. They own and operate Generations at Agritopia, which is home to more than 130 seniors in the heart of Agritopia.
“We are honored to be expanding our partnership with the Johnston family and the Agritopia community with the launch of the Epicenter project,” said Scott Brooks, CEO of IPA/Liv Communities. “We have always admired the Johnston’s vision for Agritopia and believe the vision for Epicenter is a perfect match for our Liv communities, residents and team members.”
Casey Treadwell of Vintage Partners is serving as a development consultant. Joe Doucett with Newmark Knight Frank in Phoenix is the leasing broker.
Ryan Companies is the General Contractor, Whitneybell Perry of Chandler is the architect; Terrascape is the civil engineer and Floor of Phoenix is the landscape architect.