“I grew up near here, and I’ve always been fascinated with real estate,” says Spike Lawrence, founder of Spike Lawrence Ventures. “I’ve watched Downtown Chandler’s growth from nearby and had always wanted to be a part of it.”
Not only has he been a part of it, but he’s been a driving force in helping shape the community.
Lawrence has been building in Chandler since 1998, and his contributions have included developing The Falls at Ocotillo, D’vine Bistro, Downtown Ocotillo and Warner Executive Center; bringing Holiday Inn to Ocotillo; master planning Downtown Ocotillo and The Waters at Ocotillo; co-founding The Living Room Wine Bar and Cafe, The Sushi Room and ChoP Steakhouse; and more.
Three years ago, he took on a new project.
At the time, the City of Chandler had put out an RFP to develop an area of Historic Downtown Chandler. Lawrence, along with joint venture partner Rick Huffman of HCW, LLC, responded—and the rest, as they say, is history.
The vision was New Square, a modern, sustainable, multi-use commercial/class A office development in the heart of Downtown, on the corner of Chicago Street and Arizona Avenue, for which they broke ground in 2018.
Today, rising from what was once a dirt lot, is now a combination of hotel, restaurants, retail shops and office space.
Phase 1 was recently completed and includes a 50,000-square-foot office building; 10,000-square-foot restaurant building; and a Hilton Garden Inn, which has 110 rooms, as well as a restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Already, Lawrence says, they’ve signed 10-year leases to Great Western Bank, which will locate a regional office there, and WellSky, a global healthcare software solutions company; and DC Steakhouse has relocated to a bigger space from its current location.
“We also signed two more restaurants, and another office space,” he says. “In the office building we also signed a local sports agency that represents mostly NFL players. We signed a famous restaurant from Nashville, Tennessee called The Stillery, and a famous ramen noodle place called JINYA Ramen Bar, which has locations in places such as New York and Los Angeles (this will be the first location in Arizona).”
One of his favorite aspects of New Square is the event square that is located in the middle of the development. It has an artificial turf lawn, a stage, palms line the area on both sides, and lights twinkle overhead.
“We can have concerts of up to 700-800 people,” he says. “It’s a neat amenity and I think it’s one of the reasons why Chandler selected us.”
Both office and retail space are still available to lease, and Lawrence says they are working to ensure the tenants are the right fit.
Now that Phase 1 of New Square is opening, Lawrence says Phase 2, which will feature a six-story, mixed-use building, is scheduled to break ground before the end of 2020.
“I like the mixed-use nature of [New Square], and being a part of what Downtown Chandler has become,” he says of the project. “We like adding New Square to the already vibrant Downtown.”
And for the young Lawrence who grew up fascinated with real estate and who got his real estate license right after graduating from Corona del Sol High School (he then went to Arizona State University, got his Series 7 license, raised money for a real estate company, partnered with a friend right after college and began rehabbing properties and selling them), he has certainly made his mark on a city that he loves.
“I love Chandler,” he shares. “It’s leadership is forward-thinking and visionary. It brings the right jobs and builds the right schools, which attracts the right families. I can’t emphasize enough my appreciation for the business mindset. They’re pro-business and visionary.”