Gilbert’s 1st Mercedes-Benz dealership to open 2016

November 13, 2015 - Parker Leavitt

The town’s first Mercedes-Benz dealership — stocked with luxury sedans, coupes and SUVs — plans to open by summer within Gilbert’s massive Rivulon mixed-use project near Loop 202’s Santan Freeway and Gilbert Road.

Plans include a two-story, 67,000-square-foot building with a showroom, boutique, cafe and customer lounge in what will be the fifth Mercedes-Benz dealership in metro Phoenix. Other locations are in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler and Peoria.

The dealership is the latest Rivulon project revealed by Nationwide Realty Investors, the Ohio-based real-estate arm of the well-known insurance company. Rivulon covers about 250 acres in Gilbert’s central business district, where Nationwide plans an urban-style mix of offices, shops and hotels. Nationwide is selling 7 acres to another party, who will build and operate the dealership.

With Rivulon’s first two office towers nearly finished and a retail center not far behind, a fleet of new Mercedes will give hundreds of workers, diners and shoppers something to ogle as they meander by.

Nationwide is still pursuing architectural approval from Gilbert’s Design Review Board but said construction could start before the end of the year. The project is scheduled for possible Design Review Board approval on Dec. 10.

Rivulon currently includes an LA Fitness gym and will soon welcome its first major office tenant — the international headquarters for Isagenix, a network-marketing company that sells various health products.

Demand rising for luxury cars

The project comes at a time of renewed demand for high-priced vehicles, and this new location will tap into some of the Valley’s most affluent demographics. Gilbert boasts the highest median income among major Phoenix-area communities.

Across the street from Rivulon, on the Chandler side of Gilbert Road, construction is moving forward on a Porsche dealership, with a projected opening this spring. A Maserati dealership opened at Gilbert’s SanTan Motorplex — two miles to the east — last fall.

National sales figures show a spike for several luxury brands in America. Mercedes-Benz sold about 302,000 vehicles through the first 10 months of 2015 — a 7.2 percent jump from the same period in 2014, according to data from Porsche enjoyed an 11 percent increase, and Audi sales climbed 13 percent.

A boost for Gilbert’s business district

The Mercedes-Benz dealership could create up to 150 new jobs and $15 million in capital investment for Gilbert’s rapidly growing central business district, according to Dan Henderson, the town’s economic-development director.

Rivulon is a key piece of the business district, which stretches along Loop 202 from Gilbert Road on the west to Ray Road on the east. More than 13,000 employees work in the area each day, Henderson said.

During a three-year span from July 2012 to June 2015, Gilbert’s central business district attracted $293 million in private investment and 2.9 million square feet of development, Henderson said.

More progress coming for Rivulon

As Nationwide Realty Investors prepares to finish the Isagenix building at Rivulon by early December, the developer has also signed its first tenant to a second office building, which has 125,000 square feet on four stories, company President Brian Ellis said.

Plans for the development’s first hotel could come forward as soon as next year, and the company expects to announce multiple restaurants in the coming months, Ellis said.

Why Gilbert?

Nationwide Realty Investors has cited two major contributions from Gilbert and the state that helped make the Rivulon project possible — the opening of Loop 202 in 2006 and the Town Council’s approval of a $35 million tax incentive in December 2012.

Gilbert agreed to refund half of the general sales tax and all of the construction sales tax generated by the Rivulon development over the next 20 years, with a $35 million cap.

The sales-tax rebates are intended to reimburse Nationwide for improving roads adjacent to and in the development. The deal is structured to include more rapid payouts if the company builds denser, vertical buildings and penalizes Nationwide if it builds too much retail.

Eventually, Rivulon could be home to as many as 15,000 employees, Ellis has said.

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