Rare Earth Gallery

Rare Earth Gallery may be opening up a second location after its Rare Earth Gallery II site plan was approved by the Cave Creek planning commission. (Rare Earth Gallery/Submitted)

The Rare Earth Gallery, a self-proclaimed “eighth wonder of the world” may be expanding after the Cave Creek planning commission unanimously voted to approve the Rare Earth Gallery II site plan at a Sept. 15 meeting.

The property for the proposed site plan is located on the east side of Cave Creek Road and North of Surrey Road. The proposal conforms to the town’s planning and zoning ordinance and does not require any special use permits or variances.

The applicant for the project is Greg Zimmerman, owner of G. M. Zimmerman Architect firm. In his application, Zimmerman said the proposed plan is for a “commercial retail building and off-street parking in conjunction with commercial use, as well as landscaping.” The proposed structure is 11,836 square feet.

Also in the site plan application, Zimmerman said they “have taken all possible measures to make Rare Earth Gallery II a unique and low profile facility well suited on the perimeter of the town core, not impacting Cave Creek’s Western theme.”

More than just the town’s theme was considered, though. On the east side, the site is bordered by single-family residences with an alley separating the property lines. At the meeting, planning commission members asked Zimmerman if those residents would be bothered by car headlights or noise. Zimmerman said in order to screen light and noise, a solid, 6-foot-high wall is proposed to be constructed on the east property line, in addition to existing 3-foot walls. He also pointed out that proposed business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., so there should not be any traffic at the site in the evenings. Further, no outdoor parking lighting is proposed for the site at this time. 

The current Rare Earth Gallery building, located on E. Cave Creek Road, is a 10,000-square-foot collection of minerals, gems, fossils, pieces of jewelry and home decor.. Wayne Helfand, owner and purveyor of the store said the store is a mixture of a rock shop and a home decor store, with everything coming from the earth.

The store has 180 million-year-old Arizona petrified wood, and pieces literally out of this world — from space. On top of that, they have rare fossils and a large crystal collection of amethyst, fluorite, moldavite and smoky quartz. Items in the store sell anywhere from 99 cents to $99,000. Inventory includes a gemstone chart for kids to over 6-foot-tall gem centerpieces.

Rare Earth Gallery opened in Cave Creek in 2012, and while it has moved locations a few times, Helfand said he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“I did not want to leave Cave Creek,” Helfand said in a previous interview with the Foothills Focus. “It’s the last fashion of old western Arizona, beside the sixth largest city in the country. Sooner or later, everyone comes to Cave Creek. It’s just a wonderful little funky town.”

This is not the final approval for the Rare Earth Gallery II site. The proposal will now be presented to the town council with the planning and zoning commission’s recommendation to approve. That meeting has not yet been scheduled.

Rare Earth Gallery 

6401 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek