When Mayor Kenn Weise and other city officials started talking about “The BLVD” in the center of Avondale, longtime residents may have been forgiven if their responses ranged from shrugs to eye rolls.
After all, the 356 acres were mostly … nothing.
On Sept. 9, 2019, Avondale City Council approved a new specific plan for its city core. Formerly known as Avondale City Center, it was rebranded as The BLVD (“The Boulevard”).
According to the brochure that launched it, “The BLVD will be the West Valley’s newest mixed-use destination and will offer pedestrian oriented districts, generous landscaping, boutique shops, and vibrant dining options, as well as parks and plazas for family and friends to gather.”
There wasn’t much there at the time—but that is soon changing.
A year later, “there” is arriving.
Avari Apartments on the west side of Avondale Boulevard recently began construction.
Close on its heels is the Village at The BLVD, a high-end community with 187 stand-alone units, the requisite swimming pool, fitness center and dog park—plus a yoga lawn.
At its Dec. 7 meeting, Avondale City Council approved the Village at The BLVD’s development plan.
Though the vote was unanimous, several council members raised concerns about how the project will impact traffic.
The BLVD has six districts. The Avari building is in the Park District. Village at The BLVD, on the east side of Avondale Boulevard, is in the Residential District.
Kevin Murphy, director of Avondale’s Development and Engineering Services, said the property is around 16 acres at Roosevelt Street and 111th Avenue.
Murphy said the Village project is “geared to increasing the population to support the businesses in the area.”
Instead of a development surrounded by walls, “we worked very hard with the developer, Empire, to design the project totally differently—to turn it inside out,” Murphy said.
The front of the homes face sidewalks, “so it feels like an old-fashioned urban type of neighborhood,” Murphy said, stressing “sidewalk connections.”
This is in keeping with the “pedestrian-oriented” vision for The BLVD that council passed just over a year ago.
Shelby Duplessis, who answered questions at the council meeting and promised “a landmark project,” later told the West Valley View her Empire Group of Companies is launching similar Village communities from Goodyear to Peoria. The Village at Harvard Crossing is nearly rented out in Goodyear and the Village at Pioneer Park just broke ground in Peoria, with Village projects in Glendale close behind.
In Avondale, “We’re getting ready to submit a second set of plans for review,” she said. “We’re hoping to start construction in the spring.”
If all goes well, first units will be ready in early 2022, she said.
She said Empire targeted The BLVD property for three reasons: location, location, location.
“It’s a great location close to the I-10,” Duplessis said. “It’s a great urban feel- to be able to connect with what the city is doing in the neighborhood.”
The Village at The BLVD is getting in on the ground floor, so to speak, with restaurants, shops and many more homes planned for the center of Avondale.
“I think the Avondale Economic Development Department has been very visionary,” Duplessis said.
The BLVD, she projected, “will be big. It will be very active, a place people walk to. Similar to Westgate, but on a smaller scale.”
As she told Avondale City Council, “We’re very excited to be coming to Avondale.”
On the city side, Murphy shared the excitement, vowing the Village will have “excellent connectivity that will hopefully help The BLVD to thrive.”
Councilwoman Tina Conde agreed: “This development is much needed in the area.”
Councilman Mike Pineda viewed the Village as a kickstarter project: “This is a nice way to increase the footprint, which will increase economic growth. We can get more restaurants and entertainment and shopping … It will be development going on development.”