A Pederson Group developers sign announcing that "Fry's is coming soon" is no longer posted at the SaddleBrooke Marketplace site. It had languished in various locations at the corner property for years. The proposed Fry's supermarket project is directly adjacent to the extensively landscaped SaddleBrooke main entrance gateway on North Oracle Road in Pinal County.

According to Rob Bassett, Chief Operating Officer of the Phoenix-based Pederson Group, there is no progress to report and no final decision to move forward on the unfinished SaddleBrooke Marketplace project. I contacted Bassett to learn if the company had decided to push ahead with the project in early 2022. His response was, "The current construction cost environment is still presenting significant challenges for this site. Both Fry's and Pederson Group are continuing to pursue this project, however, we cannot currently provide an update on timing." Adding, "We are still working through the cost to construct the project."

You are correct if you reflect nothing new there for a timeline. When a planned project is not moving forward, really, what else can be said by a developer while trying to stay positive in a problematic economy.

Business economists estimate that 2022 will be a year of a challenging dependence on contractor availability, with labor supply scarcities, building material pricing surges, and construction material shortages. The recent new COVID wave also ads negatively to the developer's strategy. It may be some time before Pederson, and notably, the Kroger Company, owners of Fry's, makes a final decision to proceed or not go forward on the grocery store plan at SaddleBrooke.

A growing number of finance experts expect interest rate hikes this year. Goldman Sachs is predicting the Fed will raise rates four times in 2022. Jamie Diamon, JPMorgan CEO, says five increases may be possible over 12-months. These uncertainties point to a slowdown of new construction and development with "easy money," a thing of the past.

The Pederson Group has already invested significant revenue in underground utility infrastructure, concrete drainage, and preconstruction grading at the site. The 120,000 square foot buildable location has sat idle for years following the initial preparation work at the prime retail corner of Oracle Road/State Highway 77 and SaddleBrooke Boulevard.

The proposed Fry's/Kroger’s grocery store's location shares a contiguous border to the primary entrance to SaddleBrooke Resort. The area supports considerable landscaping, illuminated signage, and a substantial formal gateway with permanent concrete structures. It is a welcoming entrance and essential access point to thousands of homes and businesses in SaddleBrooke, where a homeowner crisply stated, "This is virtually the front door to my house."

Due to Pederson's lack of action at the southeast corner, some homeowners charge the Phoenix developer with creating an unattractive blemish on the community. Tall weeds behind piecemeal security fencing and acres of raw blowing dirt have added to the gravity of the unsightly uncompleted construction site. Residents in the area are highly concerned with the Pederson Group, fearing that the developer may abandon the project altogether. Questions abound as to what would happen should that occur. However, most residents in the community still eagerly welcome the retail center. As this reporter sees it, we are in a game of "hurry up and wait!"

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