"We've really turned our ship around," said DeRito, who felt like he had acquired the Titanic when he bought the 128-acre Pavilions in January 2008 for $88 million. Within 90 days, Circuit City and Mervyns filed for bankruptcy and the occupancy rate fell to 47 percent for the shopping center at Loop 101 and Indian Bend Road.
But the tide started to turn in 2010 when the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community opened its Talking Stick Resort and casino a mile to the east and followed that this year with the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The spring-training complex for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies attracted huge Cactus League crowds and a total of 359,308 fans in March.
That has spawned tremendous interest in the area centered at Indian Bend and the freeway.
Hampton Inn keys up for spring
HCW Development Scottsdale LLC is building a $9 million Hampton Inn and Suites northwest of Indian Bend and Dobson roads. It will have 101 rooms.
Salt River Devco, the tribe's development arm, is further along on a four-story, 156-room Courtyard by Marriott northeast of Pima and Chaparral roads.
Both hotels are scheduled to open in February in time for spring training.
Tanger Factory Outlets Centers Inc. has signed a sublease for a 42-acre site northeast of Loop 101 and Indian Bend, said Kent Moe, a senior vice president at Alter Group, which has the master lease for the 176-acre Riverwalk Arizona project on the Salt River Reservation.
Tanger, based in Greensboro, N.C., has not announced its timing for building the outlet mall.
At the Pavilions, Buffalo Wild Wings' 6,004-square-foot restaurant will add a new dimension to the center with a true sports bar.
A new Chipotle Mexican Grill serves beer and Barro's Pizza has beer and wine, but the shopping center on leased tribal land has been hampered on restaurant leases because it was dry. Tribal members in 2009 narrowly approved allowing liquor sales in restaurants along the community's western boundary with Scottsdale.
More nighttime traffic
"It adds a new component to the center," DeRito said. "We've never had much nighttime traffic and Buffalo Wild Wings adds that."
The Pavilions also is adding:
- Mountainside Fitness in a 35,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Circuit City.
- Hobby Lobby, a 55,000-square-foot crafts superstore in the former Mervyns building.
- A remodeled Target selling groceries. The retailer renewed its lease through 2030.
The Pavilions has spent about $16 million over the past three years on renovations, including a makeover of its food court and reviving the closed theater, which opened last fall as the UltraStar Cinemas.
DeRito Partners still has some challenges to fill the many vacant spaces at the Pavilions, including the former Best Buy store and a bookstore next to Mountainside Fitness, which is pegged to open by the end of the year.
But DeRito is optimistic about filling the center with new tenants since the Talking Stick Resort and Salt River Fields have created so much momentum.
In addition to spring baseball, Salt River Fields is hosting youth sports, concerts, a balloon festival Oct. 28-29 and the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League.