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TUCSON-Vestar Development Co. has jump-started construction on the first phase of the $120-million, 115-acre Oro Valley Marketplace. The 750,000-sf “green project” with retail, restaurant and entertainment space is scheduled to open in fall 2008.

The project’s anchors are Best Buy Inc., Linens ‘N Things Inc. and Cost Plus Inc. Phoenix-based Vestar’s team is optimistic that the development, rising at Tangerine and Oracles roads, will be 100% leased by the opening. If market demand is hardy enough, the 60,000-sf second phase could break ground in the next few months. “The second phase is a lifestyle district with specialty shops you’d typically find in a mall, like Chico’s, Coldwater Creek, White House/Black Market and similar types of tenants,” says David Malin, project director with Vestar, which is preleasing the project.

The Oro Valley Marketplace project has been designed with “green” features. The developer has dedicated 77 acres as open space adjacent to the retail component. Malin tells GlobeSt.com that before the 1950s, the land once boasted heavy vegetation and wildlife, but is now farmland. “We’ll recreate the habitat that was originally there,” he says. “Also in the middle of our project, we’re dedicating 7.5 acres of open space that will be heavily landscaped.”

In keeping with the environmentally friendly theme, the buildings’ roofs will hold water-harvesting equipment to collect rainwater for landscape irrigation purposes. Surrounding the retail development will be a hiking and biking path.

Malin acknowledges that going green on the project ups development costs nearly 40%, but he believes the extra expense is worth it to help it blend into the surrounding area. “We’re going above just talking about a green project to doing it,” he adds.

The project architect is Burlini/Silberschlag Ltd. in Tucson. Foursite Construction of Phoenix is the construction manager. A general contractor hasn’t been selected. Construction financing has been provided by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York City.

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