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plinko Sep 23, 2006 6:56 PM

It was discussed by the engineers and associated parties on staff at ASU at the time, I assure you (I know some of them). Because the west side of the stadium is essentially sinking, simply renovating it is throwing money down a hole. At a certain point, rent for 30 years at a pro-level stadium (that also hosts the Fiesta Bowl) is likely cheaper than renovation. It's all about money. I'm actually a little curious about the scope of the new renovations (any idea where I can find info?)

sharpie Sep 24, 2006 1:33 PM

My bad, I was under the impression that ASU didn't want to be part of new stadium. But I wish they would have. Don't get me wrong, Sun Devil Stadium looks very cool, but from a functional standpoint, not so cool. Case in point: I'd love to go to the Oregon game next weekend, but I have no desire to sit in that convection oven at 12:30. Plus the west side in sinking? Can you say "money pit"?

ASU/Tempe/Cards should have looked to Pittsburgh for an example. Their new facility is shared (Pitt U, Steelers), thought to be the among the finest in the country, and right next door to their old stadium. We missed the boat on that one.

sharpie Sep 24, 2006 1:39 PM


Originally Posted by Don B.
^ Your taxes? What are we talking about? A total of $7.58?


I'd much rather my $7.58 go towards finishing these ped paths they've been talking about (Western Canal, Tempe Canal, ped bridge across the lake, etc). I heard through the grapevine that Tempe had to forfeit $3mil of federal money for one of the ped/bike projects they're working on because they fell too far behind in design. Not sure which project though.

HooverDam Sep 25, 2006 3:14 AM

I just got home from a long plane flight, but sometime soon Ill find an article detailing the improvements ASU did to SDS this past off season. Nothing too magical, but I know a big chunk of it was to shore up structural concerns (perhaps the sinking you are referring to?).

Im a HUGE ASU football fan, and I love SDS, I think its freakin' great....but obviously it needs a make over. But I'd never want ASU out of the stadium, on campus, its big, between the buttes and on the river, what a location!

Here is what I think SDS needs:
1. Individual plastic seats (think Chase field). Make them maroon. This will slightly reduce capacity, but a good number of those seats could be made up for by rounding off the lower bowl (and with average attendance around 60K, losing a few thousand seats is probably OK).

2. All new restrooms. Luckily Im not female (Ive heard horror stories), but I dont like peeing in troughs.

3. Brighter, cleaner concourses. If they could put something over the concrete, or paint it, it would help a lot.

4. Better food choices. Bland hot dogs, beer, and soda aren't enough. SDS has improved in this area in recent years, but still has some work to do.

5. Perhaps the most important other than the seats...shade!!! Look into what Washington has at their stadium, and a lot of the World Cup Stadiums had, build some sort of awning around the north and east sides to provide shade. Luckily my family always had tickets on the East side and were saved by the press box's....but having most of the fans in the sun is unacceptable.

5A. Since a awning over the upper deck might not shade the field, perhaps some sort of dugout/additional shading could be added to ASUs sideline. Perhaps just a shaded area extended from on top of the fence. Speaking of the fence, the chain link is hideous, replace it with brick, plants...or be really cool and do an ocotillo fence.

Vicelord John Sep 25, 2006 4:58 PM


Originally Posted by HooverDam
Ireplace it with brick, plants...or be really cool and do an ocotillo fence.

great idea, mix drunk college kids with a thorny wall.:haha:

loftlovr Sep 26, 2006 9:08 AM

Condo developers see upscale downtown
By Garin Groff, Tribune
September 24, 2006
Every developer has critics. For David Dewar of Avenue Communities, the first critic of his plan for Centerpoint Condominiums was the most unlikely of sources — his wife. She’d gone to Arizona State University in the early 1980s, before meeting her husband. She recalled the downtown as a “chug and puke.”

She remembered an unsophisticated downtown that featured cheap beer and couldn’t imagine why her husband and his development partner, Ken Losch, considered Tempe a hot spot for pricey condos.

She changed her mind after seeing how the city had transformed itself, but her reaction shows how Tempe still hasn’t overcome its former image among some people. Mill Avenue has reached a tipping point that’s triggering a surge in sophistication, Losch said.

“There are people who get it but not enough people in the Valley get it yet,” Losch said.

They’ve convinced a locally renowned chef from north Scottsdale to move his restaurant, Michael’s at the Citadel, to Centerpoint. It’s run by Michael DeMaria.

They’ll also have a full-time resident chef, Troy Thivierge, to run an eatery for residents. They’re working to attract boutique stores and restaurants — from around the Valley and as far away as Canada — to Tempe.

“It’s going to get more refined,” Losch said. “It’s going to get more sophisticated.”

Losch and Dewar spent much of their lives in Canada’s urban cities, living in high-rise buildings and basking in urban lifestyles. Dewar, a 44-year-old who is now a U.S. citizen, grew up in a high-rise and recalls going down an elevator carrying his hockey stick.

Losch, a 46-year-old who is working to get U.S. citizenship, said a surprising number of Valley residents want the urban experience despite the Valley’s reputation for suburban sprawl. Most locals grew up someplace else and long for the more urban lifestyles they left behind.

Tempe has the hardware for this, they say. They’re supplying the software, which they consider unique businesses.

HooverDam Sep 26, 2006 9:51 AM

^Hm, I hope Mill always keeps it current college/hippie vibe. Scottsdale has got the upper class thing covered for the Valley. Mill needs to stay something different. I'd hope downtown Tempe, Scottsdale and Phoenix can all sort of develop different images and have their own unique vibes.

oliveurban Sep 26, 2006 2:10 PM

Agreed. Tempe should work hard to maintain it's more casual, college-town vibe--this includes Mill Ave. Not every major neighborhood in the Phoenix-area needs to become this sort of great "upscale destination". We have enough areas to concentrate on, as is.

Having a condo in downtown Tempe should be different from having a condo in downtown Scottsdale, or in the Biltmore-area, etc. Not more alike. Besides basic necessities (things like grocery stores, transportation access, general walkability, etc.), diversity in surroundings is a good thing.

Azndragon837 Sep 26, 2006 7:06 PM

East Valley Tribune's Three-Day Series About Tempe's Growing Skyline
The East Valley Tribune this past week had a three-day series about Tempe and its growing downtown skyline. The pictures by the photographer are pretty cool, and the three-part series basically covers the issues at hand (height, density, loss of history, and airport concerns). Go ahead, read on, it's a great series documenting Arizona's most urban city.:cool:


DAY 1: Sunday, September 24, 2006
VERTICAL HORIZON: A sculler relaxes on the dock of Tempe Town Lake, taking in the sunset over the changing skyline of downtown Tempe.
Ralph Freso, Tribune

High-rises to replace flour mill as Tempe icon
By Garin Groff, Tribune
September 24, 2006

Since Tempe’s founding, its iconic downtown landmark has been an industrial building that milled grain into flour. Its downtown scene for at least a generation relied largely on college students, bar food and beer. And the neighborhoods around Mill Avenue mostly vanished.

That’s all changing in a way that will transform Tempe’s place in Arizona and nationally. The new iconic image will be not a single building, but instead a cluster of 30-story luxury condos. The social scene is shifting to swanky eateries with celebrity chefs and boutique wines. And the neighborhoods are coming back — vertically. Nearly everything new downtown ranges from eight stories to 30 stories. The whole thing thrills civic leaders and merchants who insist Tempe is joining an elite group of urban cities known for their bustling downtowns.

Yet it horrifies others who see a quaint college town being gobbled up by developers eager to erect hulking monuments that will forever change Tempe’s face.

The opposing camps generally agree on one point: A promise summed up by Ken Losch, one of the men behind the 30-story Centerpoint Condominiums.

“Two or three years from now,” Losch said, “people aren’t going to recognize Mill Avenue.”

Change is now as much a part of downtown Tempe as the historic Hayden Flour Mill. But the building boom is the most rapid transformation in Tempe history. Within 10 years, or perhaps as many as 20 years, the current boom will exhaust itself as nearly every vacant parcel and most modest buildings are turned into high-density urban projects, according to city planners, developers and real estate experts.

Tempe’s downtown is vital because the 42-square-mile city is penned in by other communities. The city of 161,000 has almost no vacant land remaining. That means the only direction it can grow is up.

Looking to the future, the city envisions as many as 5,000 downtown condos, plus more offices, hotels, restaurants and shops. Unlike any other Valley city, the future downtown will be designed to allow residents to meet their everyday needs without a car.

“It’s going to be a real city,” said Rod Keeling, executive director of the Downtown Tempe Community.

“It’s not going to be a suburb of Phoenix. It’s going to be a real city.”

Tempe’s rise may seem natural today.

But the college town’s emergence as a major urban hub came after an embarrassing decline of its downtown, massive subsidies to lure developers and occasional bitterness as developers and city leaders periodically redefine Tempe’s vision.

The development under way now or planned to begin within a year exceeds $1 billion. Nearly 2,000 condos are approved, mostly in high-rises soaring 18 stories or more. Also, two hotels are approved and some landowners are planning major expansions and renovations. That could be the tip of the iceberg, as development officials have occasionally been caught off guard at times over the number of projects and their massive scale.


Historically, Tempe’s downtown has served as a key crossroads in Arizona, from the day Charles Trumbull Hayden arrived on the south side of the Salt River in the 1870s.

He started a ferry to transport people and goods across the then-flowing river. He built an adobe house that still stands and began the mill. The place known as Hayden’s Ferry was a top business post that eventually was dwarfed by Phoenix as the Valley’s center of gravity.

The downtown still flourished as a traditional center of a college town through the 1960s, when urban sprawl began taking its toll on central business districts in Tempe and across the country. For a time, Tempe’s core was known largely for biker bars and drunken brawls.

“It’s not that we were just a little college town,” said Keeling, an Arizona State University student in the early 1970s. “We were a dirtball little college town.”

It had become almost too much for city fathers to bear by 1968. The growing city began considering a new City Hall on the outskirts of the city, in what would have been a symbolic abandonment of downtown.

The City Council decided by one vote to stay downtown. That led to construction of an upside-down pyramid for City Hall — and national attention for its unconventional design.

The pyramid’s 1970 completion triggered a trickle of private developments. Owners restored historic buildings on their own in some cases, but the effort was boosted by city subsidies of major projects that developers considered too risky.

But Tempe has turned off the subsidy spigot in recent years, as private investment carried the momentum. It can now demand developers give money to other city projects as the price of doing business in Tempe.


One or two developers have historically dominated Tempe redevelopment at any given time.

Today, the list of influential developers includes native Canadians Ken Losch and David Dewar of Avenue Communities. They’re working to move their Camelback Corridor headquarters to the Hayden Flour Mill. From there, they’ll coordinate plans to build as many as 5,000 condos in the region surrounding downtown.

Losch is the company’s chief pitchman — and for good reason.

He speaks with an evangelistic zeal about making Tempe like other urban centers — Toronto’s Yaletown or New York City’s SoHo district.

Losch can’t mention other megacities without boasting of plans to make a new hip urban core — SoBo.

That’s short for sophisticated Bohemian, which means historic red brick buildings, glass condo towers, boutique wine and restaurants with European influences.

Losch’s company checked out 200 developments across the nation before settling on Tempe. During a recent tour of the Centerpoint Condominium site, Losch stood on a newly poured foundation of what will become an Italian bakery and rattled off the reasons why he landed in Tempe.

First, he said, there’s Phoenix, the nation’s fifth largest city. ASU, now the nation’s largest university. A massive airport minutes away. Employment opportunities. Access to freeways. Papago Park. The Metro light-rail line. Lots of historic buildings.

“I challenge you to find the confluence of that any other place in the country,” Losch said. “Phoenix now has become a primary city and this place is screaming out for SoBos.”

As for modern design, Centerpoint will eclipse any existing building downtown. But Losch insists he values historic buildings. That’s why he is buying Hayden Flour Mill from Tempe.

He wants to restore the site as his corporate headquarters. He plans to move some milling equipment into a glass enclosure that will let visitors see how grain was processed. And he’s seeking a restaurant that will make flour on site to carry on the mill’s traditions.

The old mill also will house a winery. Avenue Communities has ordered 60,000 pounds of Napa Valley grapes that should arrive in a few weeks and will be made into wine in Tempe.

It might seem a high-end developer would want to crush the quirky elements of this college town. But Losch insists he wants unexpected moments. That could be a guy hitting him up for a buck or a street musician, he said.

Even the Tempe establishment has cautiously embraced the Bohemian side of Mill Avenue. The downtown’s street musicians and sellers of hemp jewelry are technically illegal, but they’re allowed to operate as long as they aren’t too obnoxious.

Keeling loves that. As a selfdescribed former 1970s hippie, he embraces some of the downtown’s wildness. The pro-business, proestablishment side of him also sees the benefit of life on the edge to set downtown apart from the lifeless corporate culture that dominates other shopping and entertainment venues.

“The guy with his guitar and the dreadlocks — that’s Mill Avenue,” Keeling said. “That’s the ‘It.’ ”


DAY 2: Monday September 25, 2006
Construction cranes tower over downtown Tempe’s skyline as signs of change and development abound.
Ralph Freso Tribune

Changes to Tempe raise concerns about past
By Garin Groff, Tribune
September 25, 2006

Day 2 of a 3-part series

Visitors to downtown Tempe probably will be forgiven if they momentarily look past the century-old red brick buildings to catch a glimpse of construction cranes towering into the sky. But the distraction might not be momentary.

Once 30-story condo towers loom over Tempe, will visitors see the place for its history or for its modern glass and steel buildings?

And will owners of the more understated red brick buildings continue to take advantage of the historic charm to lure visitors? Or will they exploit the real estate and cash in on the chance to build more 30-story buildings?

And what if these massive condo towers open their doors to a public that decides Arizona living should be characterized by big yards and a pool — not a high-rise?

Anxiety has come with every change in downtown Tempe over the years, but today’s unprecedented rate and scale of change has elevated those concerns. Some fear the bold effort to transform downtown Tempe may destroy its history and the sense of place that now lures builders, merchants and shoppers.

One of Tempe’s more notable merchants for decades thinks it’s already too late to save downtown from larger forces.

Gayle Shanks ran her Changing Hands Bookstore downtown for nearly 30 years but left in 2000 as new development brought in bookstore powerhouse Borders.

“Greedy” developers ruined the quaint atmosphere, she claims.

“They just figured there was a little gold mine there and they were ready to mine it,” Shanks said. “The dollar was the primary focus, not the people. It just imploded.”

Tempe’s been widely criticized for not doing enough for small businesses that give downtown its character.

Restaurant owner Michael Monti is one of the strongest critics. But he and other downtown followers say many failed or upset businesses owners have only themselves to blame for falling behind trends in their industries.

“Sometimes independent businesses like mine are their own worst enemies,” said Monti of the landmark Monti’s La Casa Vieja restaurant. “Independent businesses need to recognize contemporary standards and rise to them.”

Residents’ fears go beyond corporate domination of mom-and-pop shops.

They include intimidation from big buildings, congestion and loss of history.

And one of the biggest fears is that the unprecedented boom is happening too rapidly.


Tempe has the Valley’s oldest continuously inhabited structure, Monti’s La Casa Vieja, according to the city. And the adjacent Hayden Flour Mill was the state’s longest continuously operated industrial site until its 1998 closing.

But some longtime downtown watchers raised concerns the value of land could doom small historic buildings.

“The biggest fear I have is when you can build a 300-foot building, no small building is safe,” said Rod Keeling, executive director of the Downtown Tempe Community.

The historic buildings create an authentic feeling money can’t buy, Keeling said.

He’s called for an ordinance that would block buildings taller than 50 feet on sites with historic elements. That would severely limit profits for new buildings on historic sites.

Mayor Hugh Hallman scoffs at the notion Tempe hasn’t done enough for history. The city has saved several historic buildings during his two years in office and has established height guidelines to protect key properties, he said.

Keeling said he’s not concerned about the political climate today, but he fears future city leaders won’t feel as strongly about preservation. Currently, a majority vote of the City Council could doom a building, he said.

Though many downtown buildings are on the National Registry of Historic Places, the designation doesn’t trump a property owner’s right to tear it down.

Once the building is gone, Keeling said, the owner could lobby the city for more height.

Keeling’s most urgent concern is the Vienna Bakery building, dating to 1893. Developer Don Plato bought it along with the adjacent Fifth and Mill building at the intersection’s northeast corner.

Plato planned to open a Gelato Spot there, but he opened stores elsewhere in the Valley as he instead explored the idea of knocking down buildings for an 11-story condo project, Mill Avenue Lofts.

Plato said the outcry made it too difficult, so he decided to keep the buildings and lease them out.

“I’ve kind of lost my drive because of the politics,” he said.

Plato questions the value of the Vienna Bakery building as a historic property. Only the front wall’s arched windows remain. The building’s south half was demolished years ago, and nearly everything else was rebuilt after a fire.

“It’s so young that it doesn’t mean (anything),” Plato said. “To think that building does have any historic value is just asinine to me.”

Architect Stu Siefer’s Tempe firm was perhaps the most active in downtown restoration and new projects in the 1970s and 1980s, and he laments how big buildings are dwarfing charming old ones.

He was involved with some downtown planning at the time and envisioned a limit at eight stories — not 30.

“I think it’s going to be shocking for people to see buildings of this size,” Siefer said. “I would have preferred to see the density evolve and have the ability to know in increments if we have the ability to absorb the growth.”


Civic boosters get excited about 30-story condo towers in Tempe. They often point out Tempe’s skyline will become the second most impressive in the Valley, behind only Phoenix.

That poses the question: Are the buildings essential to Tempe or are they a case study in skyscraper envy?

According to Joel Kotkin, a Los Angeles-based author and commentator on urban and social issues, “What makes Tempe great is you have nice places to walk and it’s human scale.

“I don’t think adding a bunch of tall buildings makes it a great environment.”

Kotkin visits the Valley frequently and sees a demand for some urban condos in Tempe, in downtown Scottsdale and along the Camelback corridor.

Yet he’s skeptical of the nationwide trend to build high-rise condos in downtowns, especially in Sunbelt cities.

Developers usually overbuild and create a bubble in the market, Kotkin said. That means a portion of the swanky condo towers could turn into more modest housing for students.

Rob Melnick, associate vice president of economic affairs at Arizona State University, disagrees with Kotkin’s density and height worries. Downtown must take big steps for the city to survive financially, he said.

“And the alternative being what?” he said. “Being what you have now?”

Keeling and others argue the tall buildings will build up the tax base so the otherwise built-out city won’t have to raise residential taxes.

Melnick acknowledges developers could build too much, too fast and their new buildings might sit idle for some time.

But he’s convinced the ambitious downtown plan will work out even if some developments fail initially.

“Twenty years from now when this place is built out, the people who were behind it are going to look like friggin’ geniuses,” Melnick said. “People are going to forget all the rancor and they’re going to be celebrating.”


DAY 3: Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Construction along Tempe Town Lake glimmers in the setting sun as landmarks like the Hayden Flour Mill silos remain along Tempe’s changing skyline.
Ralph Freso Tribune

Tempe, Phoenix have long battled over routes
By Garin Groff, Tribune
September 26, 2006

Day 3 of 3-part series

Two-and-a-half miles from a runway at the nation’s fifth-busiest airport, developers are scrambling to put up buildings between 20 stories and 30 stories.

The soaring buildings aren’t directly under where most planes fly.

But they’re close.

In the rare instance that an engine fails on takeoff, pilots of some airlines would turn their aircraft directly over tall buildings in downtown Tempe.

So instead of continuing east over a largely uninhabited river, the struggling plane would turn over one of Arizona’s most densely populated areas.

The idea sounds crazy to everyone — but not in the same way.

To Tempe, it’s crazy that a pilot would head toward tall buildings and so many people.

To some airlines and aviation officials at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, it’s crazy that anybody would want a skyscraper where disabled planes need all the airspace they can get.

And it’s even crazier to them that Tempe would allow it.

It may seem like strictly a safety issue. But for two cities that have squabbled over the airport for decades, it’s also about politics.

Tempe points out that Phoenix has taller buildings downtown that are even closer to the other end of the runway, so it can’t legitimately complain.

Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said Phoenix must stop fighting Tempe and pressure airlines to change their procedures.

“They want to fly a plane with a disabled engine over the most densely populated area of the state?” Hallman said. “They think that’s safety planning? That’s absurd.”

Tempe sees a neighboring city that’s envious of its economic development success.

The theory is: The state’s capital city has struggled to lure developers to its downtown for decades while its scrappier college-town neighbor has been nearly overwhelmed by development.

By making flight safety an issue, Phoenix can slow Tempe’s growth and lure those developers — and their money — to its downtown, boosting its own image.

The accusation offends Jane Morris, a deputy aviation director for Phoenix.

“I am a professional and I am not making recommendations that enhance or detract anyone’s downtown,” Morris said.

“I am a custodian of maintaining the capacity we have paid for in these runways and the infrastructure,” she continued. “As the person responsible for that planning, I find that ridiculous.”


The tension has deep roots. Tempe has complained for years about the growing airport and noise from planes that fly over Tempe neighborhoods on either side of the Salt River.

The airport was an issue early this decade when construction was about to begin on an Arizona Cardinals stadium east of the runways. Phoenix and Tempe had battled for the stadium, and flight safety became a major issue.

The stadium ended up in Glendale, and many Tempeans are still bitter about how Phoenix fought to have the stadium built in its downtown.

The animosity boiled over in 2001 when Tempe sued Phoenix over a runway-paving project.

Tempe made the airport a federal issue a year later when it sued Phoenix in federal court. Tempe eventually dropped the suit.

In 2004, the new mayors of both cities — Hallman and Phoenix’s Phil Gordon — agreed to stop the fighting their predecessors started and work together more on airport issues.

But tensions rose last year when Avenue Communities announced it wanted to raise its 22-story condo project in downtown Tempe to 30.

The then-aviation director of Phoenix told Avenue Communities to stop construction. Phoenix chastised the developer for not getting a mandatory review by the Federal Aviation Administration. The developer started the review process this month.

Tempe and Phoenix traded barbs publicly over the project.

Phoenix questioned whether Tempe was indifferent to airline safety. Tempe questioned whether Phoenix was just jealous.

Both sides expect the FAA to shed some light on the issue soon, possibly in a few weeks. Federal officials will examine the building heights and ask airlines for their views.

Then the FAA will decide one of two things: A finding of no hazard, which means the project doesn’t have a significant impact on safety or operation.

Or the FAA could label the project a hazard because it’s in the airspace needed for safe flight operations should an airliner’s engine fail.

The FAA’s findings can’t stop a project, however.

Only Tempe has authority to restrict building heights.

Hallman has said the city will respect FAA findings but won’t necessarily give in to objections from an individual airline.

The latest feud involves University Square, a 300-foot-tall project at University Drive and Myrtle Avenue.

The FAA determined it wasn’t a hazard. But it noted Alaska Airlines’ objection to the building on the grounds that it would need the airspace if an engine failed. Alaska has appealed the FAA determination. The FAA does not have a timeline to issue a decision on the appeal.


Alaska Airlines has told the Tribune that anything higher than 189 feet would force it to reduce weight to ensure its planes could clear the building. That would force the airline to cut six to 10 passengers from most of its flights to ensure safe operations. The airline operates eight to 10 flights a day.

Alaska officials said they can’t recall a time in the past decade when any of its planes lost an engine on takeoff. On the aircraft Alaska uses for flights to Phoenix, the Boeing 737-400, engine failure occurs on about four of every 100,000 departures.

But Alaska and other airlines must operate every flight under the assumption that an engine could fail and have procedures to ensure these disabled aircraft can clear obstacles.

Carl Allen, Alaska’s director of flight operations, said company policy doesn’t put downtown residents at risk.

“It’s our intent that that airplane won’t come in contact, whether densely populated area or sparse ground,” Allen said.

Each airline has its own procedure for dealing with a failed engine based on the technical specifications of each make of aircraft. Most airlines would continue along the river if an engine failed, which is the same path they’d use for normal takeoffs.

Alaska decided not to have have pilots go east over the river with a failed engine because Hayden Butte and buttes in Papago Park are obstacles. The turn over downtown allows planes to clear those hazards, Allen said.

Alaska, Southwest and FedEx share similar procedures for turning over downtown when an engine fails. The airlines hesitate to release specifics of their procedures because they are proprietary, Hallman said.

Morris rejected Tempe’s call to have the city pressure airlines to change their flight procedures.

“Phoenix does not presume to tell an airline how to fly their planes,” she said.

Morris said Phoenix has responded to flightsafety issues by creating block-by-block zoning for its downtown that takes airport issues into consideration.

She said Tempe hasn’t done the same, and that it should consider doing so. Phoenix is studying Tempe’s airspace now to see what heights would or would not be a problem in its downtown.

Phoenix should have its answers within a few months.

“Tempe doesn’t have an analysis that takes into account one engine out,” Morris said.

Hallman said Tempe has tried to do this but Phoenix and the airlines have refused to release information on flight procedures when an engine fails.

Tempe started working on building height issues before Phoenix, Hallman said, but can’t complete the work without information from airlines.

Tempe Councilman Hut Hutson has followed the issue as chairman of the city’s aviation commission and is the city’s chief critic of Phoenix’s position.

“They complain that we don’t listen to the FAA and then the FAA gives us approval and it’s still not good enough,” Hutson said. “I’ve been telling people all the time, it’s economic development. It’s not flight safety, it’s economic development.”


Condo developers see upscale downtown
By Garin Groff, Tribune
September 24, 2006

Every developer has critics. For David Dewar of Avenue Communities, the first critic of his plan for Centerpoint Condominiums was the most unlikely of sources — his wife. She’d gone to Arizona State University in the early 1980s, before meeting her husband. She recalled the downtown as a “chug and puke.”

She remembered an unsophisticated downtown that featured cheap beer and couldn’t imagine why her husband and his development partner, Ken Losch, considered Tempe a hot spot for pricey condos.

She changed her mind after seeing how the city had transformed itself, but her reaction shows how Tempe still hasn’t overcome its former image among some people. Mill Avenue has reached a tipping point that’s triggering a surge in sophistication, Losch said.

“There are people who get it but not enough people in the Valley get it yet,” Losch said.

They’ve convinced a locally renowned chef from north Scottsdale to move his restaurant, Michael’s at the Citadel, to Centerpoint. It’s run by Michael DeMaria.

They’ll also have a full-time resident chef, Troy Thivierge, to run an eatery for residents. They’re working to attract boutique stores and restaurants — from around the Valley and as far away as Canada — to Tempe.

“It’s going to get more refined,” Losch said. “It’s going to get more sophisticated.”

Losch and Dewar spent much of their lives in Canada’s urban cities, living in high-rise buildings and basking in urban lifestyles. Dewar, a 44-year-old who is now a U.S. citizen, grew up in a high-rise and recalls going down an elevator carrying his hockey stick.

Losch, a 46-year-old who is working to get U.S. citizenship, said a surprising number of Valley residents want the urban experience despite the Valley’s reputation for suburban sprawl. Most locals grew up someplace else and long for the more urban lifestyles they left behind.

Tempe has the hardware for this, they say. They’re supplying the software, which they consider unique businesses.


Meet Tempe’s developers
By Garin Groff, Tribune
September 25, 2006

The Centerpoint Condominiums project in Tempe casts a long shadow over other major projects. The three towers are expected to reach 343 feet, the tallest the city will allow.

Right now it’s the biggest project under construction in Tempe. But several other major developments are planned. Here’s a look at other major projects under way and some key developments already in place.


This project features more components than any single downtown project — a condo tower, an office tower and a major hotel. The 2.1 million-square-foot project will cover an entire block, where the 1960s-era Arches center has served students for generations. The hotel is the most significant feature to developer Jim Riggs, president of Valley-based Shea Commercial.

“This is going to be the hot spot for everybody to meet and have gatherings and social events,” Riggs said. Riggs said it’s odd that a campus the size of Arizona State University doesn’t have a large hotel on site.


One of Tempe’s key redevelopment sites is about to be redeveloped again. DMB Associates of Scottsdale is exploring plans to tear down some of the single-level buildings along Mill Avenue that housed landmark businesses like the Coffee Plantation. The new buildings would include a reconfigured space for restaurants and shops. Several stories of condos would rise above, according to preliminary plans submitted to the city.

Centerpoint remains one of downtown’s most pivotal redevelopment efforts, as it was the first major project when it was approved in 1985. It landed a Chase operations center, the bank’s first large presence west of the Mississippi River. Other offices, stores, restaurants and a Harkins Theater rounded out the development.


Every feature of this office, hotel and condo project plays off its location on the south shore of Tempe Town Lake. Buildings are covered with a specially tinted deep blue glass, architecture resembles the contours of ships and names reference nautical terms. Four condo buildings are planned, with each unit designed to give the owner a view of the lake. Work has begun on the second of these buildings. Construction is under way on the second of three office towers, and developer Suncor recently announced it will feature international hotelier Le Meridien.


First known as the Cosmo, this condo project is perhaps best known for landing a Whole Foods. That will be downtown’s first grocer in years. Mosaic will include other shops and restaurants, as well. The condos will replace the Gentle Strength co-op site, on the northwest corner of University Drive and Ash Avenue.


This 20-story condo project will take the name of a utilitarian armory building that’s stood there for decades. Developer Grady Gammage Jr. is behind the project, located on the southeast corner of College Avenue and Veterans Way.



Azndragon837 Sep 27, 2006 9:12 PM

^Everyone should read the articles above, I am giving this thread a BUMP!



loftlovr Sep 28, 2006 10:20 AM

Thanks bud!
Great stuff!

NYC2ATX Oct 1, 2006 4:44 AM

hey just curious . . . how far along is centerpoint residential in construction? says that one of the towers is already underway.
What's going on with that?

Azndragon837 Oct 1, 2006 10:15 AM


Originally Posted by StatenIslander237
hey just curious . . . how far along is centerpoint residential in construction? says that one of the towers is already underway.
What's going on with that?

The Phase I tower (22 stories) is FINALLY on the first level after months of digging and building 4-stories up from its big hole to ground level. So from this point forward, it should be up, up and away.

The Phase II tower (30 stories) is under construction as well (with the foundation). It is still waiting on the FAA to see if the height is not a hazard to airplanes, should be a few weeks until we find out. The FAA did approve the Phase I tower, by the way, and there are tower cranes for each phase on the site.

Hope that helps!


loftlovr Oct 20, 2006 7:28 AM

In like Flynt: Tempe going Hustler

Katie Nelson
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 20, 2006 12:00 AM

The world of Larry Flynt is spilling into Tempe.

The baron of adult magazines and videos is bringing his brand of toys, clothing and otherwise explicit adult entertainment to the city.

The space once held a Red Lobster, and was a 1st Draft Pick Sports Bar most recently. Now, the building on Broadway Road, west of McClintock Drive, will be the magazine-company's 12th "Hustler Hollywood: A unique boutique" in the country.

Brochures depicting other locations show a classy-looking establishment that looks more like it belongs in a shopping mall than the stereotype of an adult store. Wood floors and bright lighting show off clean-lined display cases hawking T-shirts and other clothing.

The store concept has been around for about 10 years, said Jimmy Flynt, brother of Hustler founder Larry Flynt and business partner in the company's pornography and publishing business.

"Most of our products consist of what you would find in a Victoria's Secret or a Macy's. Clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories, pants, shirts, sweat shirts," Jimmy said. "Only a small percent is adult products."

The company plans to open Tempe's Hustler Hollywood in time for the holiday shopping season.

City officials have received complaints from nearby residents who are upset that the retailer will be selling adult merchandise. Others asked Thursday were not fazed.

"It's not my first choice for what kind of business would go in there," said Geri Thompson, an Arizona State University employee who lives in the area. "I was hoping for a nice restaurant."

Candace Ammerman, who was eating lunch across the street at a Chinese buffet, agreed.

"I would just as soon that type of business is inside than seeing something like prostitutes parading on the streets."

The lot is zoned retail, so the business is limited on how much adult merchandise it can carry. City code mandates no more than 30 percent can be adult-related, so the building's architects are cordoning off 29.9 percent of the store with a 6-foot high wall. "They have completely complied with every regulation," said Chris Anaradian, the city's development services manager.

Anaradian has been among the city officials who have heard complaints about the store opening.

"We can't make special rules for stores we don't like," he said. "The best way we can be fair is to enforce them all across the board."

Workers are expanding the location by more than 1,000 square feet, according to documents submitted to the city.

And although the company initially pitched putting up a sign 30 feet high, the version approved by the city will be slightly smaller than the sports bar sign that's on the property.

There are two adult-use zoned businesses in Tempe: A Fascinations Sensual Shoppes on Elliot Road and the Modern World Adult Book Store on Apache Boulevard. There, the amount of adult material is not monitored.

There are half-a-dozen other shops in Tempe that advertise adult content material.

loftlovr Oct 20, 2006 7:30 AM

Australians design Tempe project
Teams in Sydney, here able to work 2 shifts in a day

Katie Ruark
Special for the republic
Oct. 19, 2006 12:00 AM

Tempe is getting a global perspective.

In an area of major expansion, it was only a matter of time until an international company took the reins of a local development.

Constellation Property Group is based in Sydney, Australia, and works out of San Diego. It is building the Armory at 322 E. Sixth St.

Architects in San Diego and Sydney are designing the exterior and interior of the building, which will be a mix of condominiums and retail space. The Sydney architects are from Marchese + Partners design. The San Diego architects make the original design and those from Sydney do the more precise and detailed tasks.

Because of the offices' locations, Constellation has the capability to work nearly 24 hours day because Australia's time zone is nearly the opposite of ours.

"We have the advantage that when we leave in the late afternoon we use e-mail and put everything on the STP, everything's on computers, and when we get in the next morning, another shift has been done," said Eugene Marchese, managing director of Constellation Property Group.

Marchese said Tempe is the place for his company to be right now.

"The building's design is influenced by the location," Marchese said. "(Tempe) is a gateway."

Rod Keeling, executive director of the Downtown Tempe Community, agrees.

"They could build this project in Singapore, but they chose Tempe," Keeling said. "In addition, they have a very sophisticated residential product. This is not their first condo tower, it's their 10th or 15th, so they have experience. I have heard good things about them from people in California, so I know they can perform."

He said the close proximity to ASU and Sun Devil Stadium as well as the future light rail locations made for a dynamic design. The building at College Avenue and Veteran's Way will come to a sharp point.

"There are a couple of things we love about Tempe," Marchese said. "It has a dynamic downtown. We love the economic climate. The politicians have done a great job with that."

The firm likes it so much, in fact, they hope do more work in the area.

"We are already looking at others, but for now we are focused on the Armory," Marchese said.

loftlovr Oct 20, 2006 7:35 AM

High-rise looms on airline's land

Oct. 5, 2006 12:00 AM

US Airways is moving closer to adding a high-rise on its downtown land. The property, at Third Street and Mill Avenue, has been slated for development for decades.

The grassy expanse likely will be replaced by a multistory building with retail space on the ground floor and office space on the upper levels. It will be the second of three buildings that planned there, according to a development agreement with the city.

The Tempe-based airline is the process of negotiating and finalizing building proposals with a developer. . US Airways plans to go public with those plans in the coming weeks, said Paul Lambert, vice president of corporate real estate.

The airline fielded proposals from a half-dozen developers who had dramatically different ideas for what should be built on the 7.5 acres, Lambert said. Whatever goes in will be directly adjacent to a new light-rail stop.

As of now, third-party renters will use the building, Lambert said. However, the possibility exists that US Airways will use the floor space for corporate expansion.

The land is jointly owned by the airline and Tempe.

- Katie Nelson

HX_Guy Oct 21, 2006 5:38 PM

Tempe council gets tough on 3 developers

Katie Nelson
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 21, 2006 12:00 AM

The Tempe City Council put developers through the wringer Thursday night.

At least one left miffed. Another walked out scoffing. A third threatened to take his plans to a different city.

The council took action on two key multimillion-dollar projects in front of an almost-full audience during its formal meeting.

Ultimately, the Armory high-rise project was approved.

Plans for an arts district that is supposed to go on 12 acres next to the new Tempe Center for the Arts were scrapped.

Affordable-housing proponents scored when council gave the go-ahead to a 20-story, $150 million, two-building condominium complex, to be named the Armory, at the south base of Tempe Butte.

But before they did so, council members put the Australian developer, Eugene Marchese, on the spot with a surprise request that got him to commit the possibility of an additional $300,000 to the city's affordable housing.

In contrast, the arts district concept was sent back to the drawing board without council approval.

Proposals from two developers were being considered, but both were rejected. Instead, the City Council decided to start over to try and involve the community more in determining what should go on the 12 acres.

"I have issues with both developers and their proposals, but I think that the biggest problem is process related," Councilwoman Barb Carter said.

Azndragon837 Oct 23, 2006 11:37 PM

Some good news about an extra light rail station to be built at the intersection of Center Parkway (between Mill & Priest) and Washington Street in North Tempe:

Extra light-rail station in works

Katie Nelson
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 21, 2006 12:00 AM

Three Tempe businesses are getting closer to signing a deal that could bring an additional light-rail station to the city.

Initially, some of the businesses requesting the stop balked at helping to carry the financial load, but apparently those issues have been worked out.

A $5 million-plus train stop has been designed to go in the middle of Washington Street just east of Center Parkway. It would be Tempe's ninth light-rail station, and the 27th for the Valley along the 20-mile line.

It also would be the first and only station to be added on with private money. The original stops are being paid for through a $1.4 billion construction package of federal money and contributions from Tempe, Phoenix and Mesa. This new stop won't be eligible for those federal funds because the amount has been capped.

Instead, Tempe and three businesses that would benefit from the additional location would absorb the cost of design and construction. They include Papago Park Center, a 522-acre Salt River Project-owned business park that's home to the company's headquarters and more than a dozen other businesses that opened in 1992; Chesnut Properties LLC, which is building a biotech lab near Washington Street and Mill Avenue; and Trillium at Rio Salado, a 1,200-resident apartment complex across the street from the intended station.

The foursome has agreed on a deal for cost sharing, said Jyme Sue McLaren, a deputy public works manager who deals with Tempe's light-rail business.

The documents have yet to be signed, but should be submitted to the City Council for sign-off within the next two months, McLaren said.

Metro's most recent monthly progress report shows the design and engineering of the station is scheduled to be complete in late February 2008, six months before the rail line's target opening date in December 2008. But McLaren said it's actually already done.

It will be an identical look to the other rail stations in Tempe and be completed along with the area's segment by spring, she said.

vertex Oct 24, 2006 7:07 AM

I'm glad they worked that out. It's a good place for a station, and will provide some needed access to the north side of the town lake.

HX_Guy Oct 24, 2006 8:40 AM

FAA backs 1st tower of Tempe condo
Phoenix objected to 30-story project, citing airport-safety concerns

Katie Nelson
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 24, 2006 12:00 AM

A contentious chapter of the airport fight between Phoenix and Tempe has finally come to a close: Centerpoint Condominiums has gotten the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Administration to build a 30-story condominium tower in Tempe.

The decision, released Monday afternoon, is the most recent dispute in a drama that has been unfolding for years. It's a fight that has been fueled by aircraft noise levels, Tempe's ill-fated attempts to build the Cardinals stadium and economic development disparities, whether true or perceived. The dispute landed most recently on the height of buildings around Sky Harbor International Airport.

Monday's news from the FAA removes the final hurdle that developer Avenue Communities LLC needed to clear to build a four-tower complex in downtown Tempe. It also contradicts concerns raised by former Phoenix Aviation Director and now Phoenix Deputy City Manager David Krietor.

The developer lauded the finding.

"It's a decision we felt was a long time coming," said Ken Losch, a principal in the Phoenix-based Avenue Communities. "We think the significant amount of rhetoric was unnecessary and in some cases unprofessional, so we're pleased that it's done."

In January, Krietor sent a letter to Avenue Communities that was copied to Phoenix, Tempe, airline and FAA officials. He questioned the safety and legality of Centerpoint's intended height, writing it could "adversely impact Sky Harbor Airport, one of Arizona's most important economic assets."

Krietor said the height conflicts with several airlines' "engine out procedures," an emergency procedure that each airline designs for its pilots to use if an engine fails.

He wrote: "The aircraft performance penalty resulting from the planned Centerpoint construction will be severe, resulting in lower allowable takeoff weights, considerably more noise to underlying residents, and safety-related considerations."

He also told the developer to stop building.

This raised the hackles of leaders in Tempe, who are still sore because their plans to build a stadium were quashed in 2001 when the FAA deemed the site an aircraft hazard to Sky Harbor, which is owned and managed by Phoenix.

Phoenix officials said they were obligated to voice safety worries.

"Our concern has always been the traveling public's safety," Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said on Monday, "and the continued, unimpeded operations of Sky Harbor International Airport, the largest economic engine in the state."

The FAA's decision could come under scrutiny if someone files a petition by Nov. 19. If none is submitted, the decision becomes official Nov. 29.

"If the FAA says that it's not going to be a hazard, they're the federal agency that has the authority to do that," Krietor said Monday. "The city of Phoenix will abide by that decision ... and isn't going to oppose the project."

The FAA ruling only OKs one of the three planned 30-story towers but does so based on its proximity to another 30-story project in Tempe. Avenue will seek approval for the other two if it starts building them.

The news is a relief, said Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, who heard Monday afternoon while vacationing in San Diego.

"It was a much more difficult process than it needed to be based on the incendiary comments that some choose to make rather than allowing the process to go forward naturally," he said. "Our goal is to be nothing other than synergistic with our surrounding communities and create a region that is dynamic."

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