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PHOENIX-Developers of the $180-million Desert Ridge Marketplace in north Phoenix are going after a younger tier of shoppers by building a section exclusively for the Gen Y crowd.

“The District,” as its known by Phoenix-based Vestar Development Co., will deliver a retail lineup sure to appeal to a demographic with strong clout. “The District is definitely designed with the ‘Gen Y’ consumer in mind,” says David Larcher, Vestar executive vice president. “We spent a lot of time talking with young people in this age group before designing ‘The District’ and really listened to them regarding what they want in a lifestyle and entertainment center.”

Based on Census 2000 results, Gen Y represents more than 600,000 young people in Maricopa County alone. The Gen Y group includes youth between 10 and 24 years old and generally the offspring of Baby Boomers. “What we’ve created is really the best possible mix for parents and kids alike,” says Larcher. “We’re developing an exciting, high-energy, interactive shopping, dining and entertainment experience that’s going to engage the senses in a way that’s never been done before.”

The central attraction of ‘The District’ is an 18-screen, 4,000-seat, state-of-the-art AMC Desert Ridge 18 Theater. Also grouped in the area will be stores such as Juxtapose, Tower Records, Eye Candy, Barnes & Noble, Anchor Blue, Limited Too, Pacific Sunwear, Joe Boxer, Levi’s Original Store, Athletic Zone, Claire’s Accessories, Sunglass Hut and Hot Topic.

Restaurants aren’t the garden-variety fast-food nor are they of the linen tablecloth mold. Coming will be Bahama Breeze, Fat Burger, El Paso Bar-B-Que, On The Border, Big Bowl, Fat Tuesday, Grilled Expedition and Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks.

A 64,000-sf Jillian’s also is planned, which is a unique food and entertainment venue offering disco bowling, dancing, giant TVs for sports fans and an all-glass billiards room with incredible views of the Valley. A large outdoor stage area with extensive lighting is being built near Jillian’s and will be used for local entertainment events. It will boast a giant video wall with a cascading water backdrop and an extensive sound system.

Vestar says the “The District” design and marketplace represent next-generation retail. The retail center opens in the fall.

The 1.2 million-sf Desert Ridge Marketplace is a design of MCG Architecture of Beverly Hills, CA and SPGA Architecture and Planning of San Diego. The innovative project incorporates geometric shapes, super graphics, 6-foot torchieres spewing gas flames, colorful, 6-foot-tall clay pots with exotic plants and an array of fountains, misting systems, outdoor fireplaces and water features. Pedestrian promenades with overhead latticework and an abundance of trees will shade the project. A way-finding system composed of large, brightly colored banners will help patrons locate their vehicles and find their way from one district to another.

Vestar Development is one of the leading retail developers in Arizona. Founded in 1977, the firm has developed more than seven million sf of traditional retail and power center projects.

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