After a sluggish start that eventually led the developer to tear down storefrontsÂ at Mesa Riverview, the massive shopping center near the Chicago Cubs’ spring-training park is trading bulldozers for construction crews.
Kimco Realty, the New York-based investment trust that owns Riverview, is preparing to expand the retail centerÂ with a handful of new shops, according to plans filed with the city.
The developer is staying mum on the project for now,Â but a glimpse of five new stores went before Mesa’s Design Review Board last month.
Designs show a new 13,000-square-foot building at the northeastern corner of Dobson Road and Bass Pro Drive, with tenants including Starbucks, Pieology PizzeriaÂ and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt.
Pieology is a concept similar to Fired Pie, ModÂ Pizza and many others where diners can choose a custom-built pizza with an unlimited number of toppings. The chain has dozens of locations across the U.S. and three restaurants in the Phoenix area.
The company in June was named the fastest-growing small-restaurant chain in the U.S. by Restaurant Business magazine.
Menchie’s boasts more than 350 frozen yogurt shopsÂ worldwide, as far as China, Pakistan and South Africa. There are six Valley locations, with a seventh coming soon in Queen Creek.
Menchie’s was the fifth-largest “fro-yo” chain in the world in 2013, according to the International Frozen Yogurt Association. TheÂ Franchise Chatter blog called it a “juggernaut” on track to become a household name —Â the Starbucks of yogurt.
Unique flavors include toasty marshmallow, cinnamon roll, hot chocolate and churro.
Mattress Firm and Aspen Dental round out the new tenant list, according to the Design Review Board documents.
Mesa’s Planning and Zoning Board is scheduled to review a site plan for the project on Nov. 18.
Riverview covers more than 170 acres northeast of Dobson Road and Rio Salado Parkway with nearly 1.1 million square feet of leasable space, according to Kimco. The mixed-use center includes a hotel,Â office space and has land set aside for an apartment complex.
Walmart and Bass Pro Shops are the two largest retail anchors at Riverview, followed by Home Depot, Cinemark movie theater and Sports Authority. Restaurants include Logan’s Roadhouse, Cracker Barrel, Matta’s Grill & Cantina and Famous Dave’s.
After opening in 2006, the shopping center drew criticism for a lackluster start compared with the nearby Tempe Marketplace retail center and SanTan Village mall in Gilbert. The complaints focused on Riverview’s theater district, which was supposed to be the denser, walkable counterpart of the surroundingÂ big-box stores scattered throughout an expansive parking lot.
The area struggled with turnover and vacancies, and Kimco eventually demolished part of the theater district in 2012 in an effort to change the design.
Replacing bulldozers with construction crews to add new shops closer to the Cubs’ Sloan Park seems to signal better times for Riverview.
Construction is wrapping up on the Waypoint office project at Riverview, which will add to the area’s employment base and perhaps bring more customers to the center’s shops and restaurants. A Sheraton hotel opened last spring across Dobson Road, and Riverview represents the nearest shopping and dining opportunities for hotel guests. Record spring-training crowds at the Cubs’ ballpark the last two years hasÂ also givenÂ the area a boost.
Recent business openings include Jester’Z Improv, which moved to Mesa from Scottsdale last year, and iCream Cafe, which serves custom-mixed ice cream frozen on the spot with liquid nitrogen.