Glendale esta en fuego.
While the city’s economy is fire-hot, that sentence is also literal: En Fuego is charging ahead, bringing another key piece to Glendale’s Sports and Entertainment District.
En Fuego will be a collection of restaurants—including a “first-of-its-kind” niche sports bar—and shops across Glendale Avenue from the Westgate Entertainment District.
Just south of Westgate and State Farm Stadium, Taylor Morrison Homes is planning a massive expansion of its Stonehaven project. On Thursday, Nov. 5, the developer was to ask the Glendale Planning Commission to approve plans for “a 628 single-family residential subdivision” near Cardinal and 91st avenues.
Then there is Crystal Lagoons, which plans to set up shop between Stonehaven and State Farm Stadium. Last month, Glendale City Council approved a preliminary pitch for what could be the biggest project to hit the city: an 11-acre, lagoon-style water park surrounded by a hotel, amusement park, entertainment center, offices, shops, restaurants and bars.
While some who have witnessed other exciting mega-projects fade into oblivion are taking an “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude on the lagoon project, En Fuego is happening.
Across Glendale Avenue from Westgate Entertainment District, En Fuego broke ground March 16—just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic led to business shutdowns around Glendale and beyond.
Yet the development is blazing ahead and almost entirely booked, according to Julie Harris of Diversified Partners, the En Fuego developer. She said Walt Brown Jr., the Scottsdale-based owner of Diversified Partners, closed on the property in December after a year of negotiations.
“It’s a great piece of land. It’s got a crazy history—people have been trying to future it out for the last 10 years,” Harris said.
“Obviously, it’s a hot part of town, being in the Entertainment District.”
Harris said Diversified Partners/En Fuego has reached lease deals with Raising Cane’s, Starbucks and Jack in the Box—“all confirmed and in the process of being built.”
She said a Barro’s Pizza and “Mexican concept” restaurant will also be in En Fuego, as well as “a high-end sports bar that’s the first of its kind.”
She said the sports bar deal with a Northwest restaurateur has not been finalized.
The biggest piece of En Fuego also is nearing a final deal, according to Harris.
“We have a hotel currently in escrow,” she said. “It’s on the west side of the property.”
According to Harris, a few restaurants may open in December, with other businesses launching by spring.
Though a few spaces are still being sold, Harris said close to 90% of En Fuego’s 12-acre project is booked or negotiations are in process.
How was En Fuego able to charge ahead during the pandemic?
“The city of Glendale’s been awesome to work with. They’ve really been super supportive—it’s made it that much easier to move forward,” Harris said.
She said the city was convinced early in the project “it was the best fit for the area.”
On the other side, developer Brown’s vision is coming to fruition.
“It was easy to see it was a great location. Walt has a great eye for land - but the amount of energy around it exceeded everyone’s expectation,” Harris said, alluding to the lagoon project.
Though Crystal Lagoons remains in the preliminary stages, to the north of En Fuego, Desert Diamond Casino West Valley bounced back from a pandemic closure in its first year of operation.
With the casino north and Westgate and State Farm Stadium south, “it was a major hole in the middle of that,” Harris said.
Diversified Partners views the eating and shopping center filling as a complement to Westgate, but with its own identity:
“It’s got it’s own brand,” Harris said. “That’s why we named it En Fuego.”