With nearly 1,500 fast-selling houses built or planned and another 700 rentals, a place like Cadence at Gateway would be the big game in town in most cities.
But in southeast Mesa, it likely will always be known as “Eastmark’s little brother.”
Tim Brislin of developer Harvard Investments grimaced at that phrase.
“Certainty, Eastmark is the 800-pound gorilla out there,” Brislin said. “But our goal was never to be Eastmark. We from the get go said we need to distinguish ourselves from Eastmark, see what they’ve done and make improvements on them so we weren’t just competing with Eastmark head to head.”
After reflection, he stroked his chin and pondered: “I wouldn’t characterize us as ‘Eastmark’s little brother.’ Maybe a cousin.”
Whatever you call it, the Cadence is accelerating like a marching band.
And Cadence may beat Eastmark to the punch in offering what southeast Mesa residents have been pining for: A sit-down restaurant.
Near the entrance to Cadence, a Mountainside Fitness gym is under construction, likely to open by fall.
Its business neighbors at Arrival at Cadence – just off Ellsworth Road, between Eastmark High School and the State Route 24 – will be “various quick serve and sit-down restaurants, a café, QuikTrip gas and convenience store and neighborhood shops.”
Councilman Kevin Thompson, who represents District 6, has been echoing his constituents’ call for “nice restaurants” – and frustration over the Eastmark area’s fast-food offerings.
So he was pretty excited, after meeting with a retail developer hoping to makeover the southeast corner of Ray and Ellsworth roads.
“What they’re proposing is pretty cool,” Thompson said, with a knowing smile. “If what they want to do comes to fruition, I think residents there will be pretty happy.”
He declined to give specifics, but promised “something more high-end than Mcdonald’s and Burger King.”
“I told them, ‘If you’re looking to put in a Jack in the Box, I’m not interested.’ They assured me it would not be that.”
As far as Thompson sees it, neighbors aren’t begging for French chefs and five-star cuisine.
“You could put a sports bar there, it would go over extremely well,” he said. “You don’t have to have a high-end restaurant, just a place to have a beer and a bite to eat and be able to hang out with your friends.”
In a recent Facebook post, Thompson shared pre-submittal applications in his district, including one for Cadence Shops.
“Ugh! Cadence gets shops and once again Eastmark gets more multi-residential,” Becky Dunning replied.
Whatever lands at the entrance to Cadence, it will play host to a fast-growing community.
Like Eastmark, Cadence by Gateway was born after the GM Proving Grounds left town. And, like Eastmark, the new roads and public areas of Cadence are paid for by its residents.
“We got involved in 2010 knowing it was a legacy project for us in a phenomenal location,” Brislin said. “We knew it was a great opportunity and closed it in the fall of 2012. We carried it through some slow years, then broke ground in April 2017.”
He said Harvard Investments paid around $30 million for the then-undeveloped property.
On Sept. 10, 2012, Mesa City Council approved annexation of 483 acres and rezoned it as a Planned Community District, then established the Cadence Community Plan.
Seven years later, City Council approved a major amendment to the boundaries and removed Development Unit 5.
More changes were teed up this year, as outlined in a Jan. 13 letter to Cadence residents from Harvard Investments.
It outlined changes in the 20-acred Development Unit 3 at the southwest corner of the Crismon Road and Williams Field Road alignments, to be amended to “allow higher density residential uses, in addition to the currently allowed commercial, employment and mixed-use land uses, to be developed within DU3. “
Council approved the amendment Feb. 22, green-lighting an additional 350 rental units, for a total of 3,850 single-family and rental units.
On March 1, council approved 135 houses for the Annex at Cadence, with five commercial lots of Cadence at Gateway North approved by council April 5.
But, the company’s website promises, it emphasizes a “charming” neighborhood feel:
“Cadence at Gateway is your one-of-a-kind community. Built for everyone, we’ve packed it with a complete fitness center, resort-style pools, community center, indoor game room, tennis, volleyball, bocce and basketball courts, sport fields, shaded play areas, ramadas, a dog park and a café-style hang out.”
“We think you’ll agree Cadence is the best Mesa, Arizona has to offer.”
Brislin said one of the things that raises Cadence above the bar is its community club, highlighted by its pool
“People come down to see it, and say, ‘Wow, I can belong to this club, pay $125 a month. It’s like checking into a resort.’ It has a great feel,” Brislin continued. “It feels like the courthouse square in Prescott, which was our inspiration.”
Selling homes does not seem to be a problem at Cadence.
After selling out its first phase of 650 homes, “In Phases 2 and 3 we’ve sold about 474 out of 860 homes,” Brislin said.
According to the Cadence at Gateway website, a variety of homes are available — starting at $399,900.
And Cadence started construction on casita-style rental homes near the main entrance.
All the while, the Greek chorus of residents chant, “We want nice restaurants!”
“We certainly heard that,” Brislin said, with a sheepish grin. “We try to engage as much as we can with councilmen and residents to get feedback. We definitely heard it. We do have some offerings coming that will be sit down restaurants, neat cafes, things that aren’t drive-thru restaurants.”
Echoing Thompson’s cryptic-but-upbeat tone, Brislin added, “We have a few more announcements coming which I think the residents will like.”