Developer Plans Bell 17 Business Park for North Phoenix

Nov 22, 2018

Four years ago, I wrote a post called The Mystery of Phoenix Northgate that explored the history behind a large, vacant parcel of land near 19th Avenue and Bell Road in North Phoenix. Several commenters wrote in to share their knowledge of the ill-fated development.

A New Chapter for Phoenix Northgate
The land eventually became State Trust land, which is often sold at auction. Earlier this year in June 2018, the Arizona State Land Department sold the 93.25 acre parcel at auction for $26.5 million dollars. The buyer was a San Diego, California developer called Sunbelt Land Holdings. Proceeds from the sale of State Trust Land go into a fund that benefits Arizona's K-12 public schools.

Concept Illustration of the Bell 17 Business Park by CBRE.

After sitting dormant for decades, progress on the land across from the famous Turf Paradise race track now appears to moving along quickly. The Phoenix Business Journal reported on November 13th that Sunbelt Land Holdings had purchased another parcel of land, 51 acres in size, near 40th St and the Loop 202 freeway, for $25.8 million.

Sunbelt plans to develop master-planned business parks on both sites. The North Phoenix location is tentatively called Bell 17 Business Park, according to a sign on the property. Initial plans call for 1 million square feet of developed space, spread out over 12 to 16 buildings. The development will include both office and retail space, according to the Business Journal.

The project is expected to break ground in the year 2020. The developer has selected Balmer Architectural Group Inc. for the project, but has not yet announced a general contractor.

Neighborhood in Decline
The neighborhood surrounding 19th Ave and Bell intersection has been struggling with crime and other issues for about a decade. The opening of a new Wal-Mart store on the southeast corner in early 2007 brought an increase in transients and other petty crimes to the area.

Four Phoenix Police cars on a typical night at the 19th Ave and Bell Road Walmart store.

An article published in the Arizona Republic on December 14, 2016 studied the number of calls that Phoenix Police received from 2011 through mid-2016. Records obtained by The Republic showed that three of the top five addresses with the most police calls were Wal-Mart stores. The 19th Ave and Bell Road Wal-Mart ranked 4th in Phoenix for highest number of police calls during the time period. Locations #2 and #5 on the list were large apartment complexes.

Furthermore, a 2016 property crime report published by the Phoenix Police Department shows a "Very High" concentration of property crimes centered on the intersection of N 19th Avenue and W Bell Road in North Phoenix.

This data is similar to the crime map published by real estate website Trulia, which pulls in data from and Again, there is a high instance of crime in the vicinity of 19th Ave and Bell compared to surrounding areas.

Famed local steakhouse Bill Johnson's Big Apple closed their North Phoenix location in May 2014. The restaurant was quickly transformed into Pawn 1st, a pawn shop, which is still in operation.

A nearby motel at 17th Ave and Bell Road (across the street from two different cash loan/title loan stores) is well-known to police and locals as a hotspot for prostitution. With a pitiful 1.5 star rating on Google, numerous reviewers mention prostitutes drug dealers, and homeless transients as a problem. With 335 reviews on Google and the vast majority of them being "1-star" ratings, there are enough of them that it simply cannot be a coincidence or an isolated incident.

Possible Turnaround?
Will the construction of a new master-planned office park at 19th and Bell help turn this struggling area around? It is hopeful that the addition of higher paying professional jobs will clean up the area, which is surprisingly rough considering its location in the otherwise quiet sprawl of the North Valley suburbs. We'll be sure to keep you updated on this project as it moves forward.

1 comment:


What ever happend to that parcel being used for another phase of pulte homes like they told the new home owners that purchased in northgate as well as an elementary school or water park.I wouldnt gamble my 26+ million dollars on a business park.I dont see a business park helping the situation at all. Thanks Sunbelt for the final nail in the coffin for this neighborhood.


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