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The next great corridor

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Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:13 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Events with real long-term significance are happening along the Northwest’s next great corridor of development, Tangerine Road from I-10 to Oracle Road. The Town of Oro Valley wants to annex a relatively short section of Tangerine — and a larger section of unaltered Arizona State Land Department trust ground to the south — that, if completed, would be the first contiguous boundary between Oro Valley and Marana.

If and when it happens, the annexation would give the two towns primacy over what happens on a remarkable piece of land.

The Tangerine country is much prized, for its environmental presence in the undeveloped uplands of the Tortolita Fan; and for its economic potential, given proximity to I-10, to the Ritz-Carlton development, and to Oro Valley and its biotechnology possibilities.

Consider that:

• Within five years, and perhaps sooner, all of Tangerine is going to be a four-lane divided highway, known as a desert parkway, with its dips removed, and pathways along its side;

• At some point, there’s going to be a new interchange at Tangerine and I-10, taking the railroad conflict out of the mix, and creating major new commercial and retail parcels in Marana. That shall serve to make Tangerine the major east-west corridor for all of northern Pima County, serving Southern Pinal County as well. It’s the best, closest way to get south of the Tortolitas to and from I-10;

• People know as much. Developer Humberto Lopez already has plans for a hotel and apartments at Tangerine and Thornydale. Other dense development is in the offing. In its economic roadmap, the Town of Marana has identified land along Tangerine as a specific zone of economic activity. The Miller Ranch property at La Cañada is planned for retail and office space development. More, much more, is coming.

Already, Tangerine has the headquarters and primary location of Trico, the recreation business Breakers, a proposed waste transfer station, a vacant grocery store at Dove Mountain, an enormous grocery store at Thornydale, an international resort not far away at Wild Burro Canyon, oodles of housing, restaurants, stores, churches, an airpark with residences, a post office, a hospital, Oro Valley’s largest shopping center, and some of the finest desert uplands.

The Tangerine corridor needs good, careful attention and oversight, with the balancing of competing interests paramount. No one wants to see Tangerine become the next Oracle Road.

Writing of Oracle Road …

Sit with Mark Rusin for an hour at his restaurant, The Loop Taste of Chicago, and you get a sense of many things. Among them, how hard it is to be in the restaurant business, and how hard it is to be in any business.

A limited liability corporation held by Rusin and his wife Marcie has filed for bankruptcy protection, to fend off the creditors. The Loop is open for business.

It’s not easy to get to The Loop. If you’re northbound on busy Oracle, entrance is just north of El Conquistador Way, which can be an intense intersection. The signage is not great. And, if you’re southbound, you’ve got to make a U-turn at El Conquistador Way. That, too, is not easy.

Rusin wants a left-hand turn lane off the state highway, Oracle Road, into his establishment. But there’s a conflict. Already, there exists a left-hand turn lane northbound from Oracle onto Greenock, giving access to an Oro Valley original, the Oro Valley Country Club and its several hundred homes. The Arizona Department of Transportation says you can’t have two facing left-hand turn lanes so close to one another on a major roadway. That’s correct — there are line of sight and potential bottleneck issues that could prove dangerous. Yet any relief is inevitably inconvenient for someone.

Commercial and retail development along Oracle faces that fundamental problem. You can’t create immediate, easy access to properties on both sides of the highway for both northbound and southbound traffic.

That’s something to keep in mind, both in the way Oracle is further developed, and in the way Tangerine evolves.

— DPP

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