Archaeologists recently discovered an ancient human settlement at the Marana interchange of Twin Peaks/Interstate 10 where the new premium outlet mall will be built.
So far, about 145 archaeological findings have been found in the area, according to the State Historic Preservation Office. This is not the first time that Marana has dealt with ancient ruins in an area where a development is to be built.
“There have been a number of different settlements along the Santa Cruz River area. They will probably find burials and pit houses – those are common findings,” said Town Manager Gilbert Davidson.
In the past the Town of Marana has used archaeological findings as an educational tool for residents in the area. Marana, along with Tucson’s non-profit Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, had set up a heritage program more than 10 years ago. The program had focused on the archaeological history behind the two sites of the Yuma Wash Hohokam and Bojórques-Aguirre Ranch. Both served as an education tool for students, teachers and the public.
Since then, findings have normally been dispersed to those who have signed an agreement to be involved in collecting and preserving the artifacts. Those involved, normally include the State Historic Preservation Office, Army Corps of Engineers and Tohono O’odham Tribe’s historic preservation.
The ruins discovered at the interchange of Twin Peaks I/10 were found in February after the first phase of data recovery was conducted. Archaeologists are now waiting for approval to go back onto the land again and collect additional data on the findings, said Ryan Mahoney, planning director of Marana.
Vintage Partners, the owner of the property, has been working under an existing permit with the Army Corps of Engineers and is proceeding under that permit in a timely manner.
“The permit says that whatever you find you have to excavate a certain percentage of that,” said David Scholl, the principal of Vintage Partners. “We had been told we’d find something. This is exactly what we expected.”
The outlet mall is still on schedule to begin development this summer by Simon Property Group. The $90 million outlet mall will have about 100 designer and name brand stores in its 360,000-square-foot space. Its high visibility will attract visitors and locals alike who are traveling along Interstate 10. For Mahoney, the outlet mall will not only directly serve the people, but will also serve as way to bring in more money for the town.
“There are jobs that will come from it and it will expand services to residents in the area,” said Mahoney. “We also get sales tax dollars from it that will allow us to maintain our level of service or increase it for parks, roads, and things along those lines that are the primary focus of the municipality.”