ASU College of Nursing & Health Innovation
The rapid growth of Arizona State University, and the birth of its new Downtown Phoenix campus, created a special architectural and urban opportunity. This compact, 5-story building serves as both the campus’ primary gateway on its marquee corner, and will house one of the largest nursing programs in the United States. The urban infill project created much needed density within the Phoenix Downtown core, and reused existing plant materials that were salvaged prior to new development.
Developer: City of Phoenix
Honorable Mention: Ironwood Hall
Developer: Maricopa County
CityScape, a $900 million multi-use project nearing first-phase completion in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, will finally fill the so-called “hole in the doughnut.” Located on a 3-block tract centered at the zero-zero intersection of Central Avenue and Washington Street, CityScape is seen as the catalyst for long-overdue development in the city’s core. Key players in this project, the biggest private-sector undertaking ever in Downtown Phoenix, use such phrases to describe its impact as:
“It’s going to put the heart back into Downtown Phoenix.”
“It’s going to redefine Downtown, giving the area a critical mass of retail and amenities.”
“It’s really going to help change the face of Downtown Phoenix.”
Dave Kreitor, deputy city manager for the City of Phoenix, has helped guide the Downtown area through an unprecedented period of growth, but there was always a hitch. “When I was economic development director 15 years ago, we talked about those blocks being the hole in the doughnut,” he explains. “We would never be truly effective with our Downtown redevelopment activities until that area was developed.”
Spanning Washington Street to Jefferson Street, and Second Street to First Avenue, CityScape is a 1.8 MSF project featuring a 27-story tower that will be home to myriad retail outlets, prestigious law firms and other businesses. The development’s first office tenants are expected to move in by March, with retailers showing up in April. The bulk of the tenants should be up and running by July.
Kreitor expects CityScape to create a center of activity that will relate well to nearby US Airways Center, Chase Field, the Phoenix Convention Center, Arizona State University’s Downtown campus and the core office market.
As of late November 2009, leasing activity was on target. Jeff Moloznik, development manager for RED Development, says nearly 75% of the 575,000 SF of office space, and 75% of the 180,000 SF of retail space, were leased. Rates PSF were being negotiated with retailers individually, depending on the tenant, Moloznik says.
Jerry Roberts, leasing broker of CB Richard Ellis, says CityScape office space is going for low-to-mid $30 PSF, depending on the length of the lease. “The pre-leasing went better than almost any building I’ve ever been involved with.”
The pace of leasing CityScape office space would be considered very successful in any real estate market, let alone the market of the last two years, Roberts adds.
One of the tenants, Squire Sanders and Dempsey, a law firm with about 110 employees, is moving across the street from the Renaissance II Building. Robert Matia, a partner at Squire Sanders, says the floor layout at CityScape is ideal for the reduced amount of space needed for secretaries.
“Lawyers coming out of law schools have spent so much time on the computer that they prefer to type their own first draft on many documents,” Matia says. The law firm will occupy 72,000 SF on 3.5 floors, with room to expand.
Represented by CB Richard Ellis, the brokerage process for Squire Sanders went smoothly. “We knew RED Development was a great group to work with,” Matia says. “They were anxious to have us there and were accommodating to our needs.”
Don Keuth, president of Phoenix Community Alliance, says CityScape creates synergy for the area. “It sends a tremendous statement about Downtown Phoenix, that it is a vital place where investments can be successful.”
He applauds RED Development, which is also the brokerage firm for the retail portion of CityScape, for making the project a reality.
Among the challenges was providing enough easy-access parking, especially for retail customers. “We accomplished this by creating an open and inviting below-grade parking environment that allows visitors to intuitively find their way from their below-grade parking stall to their retail destination,” Moloznik says.
Retailers include CVS Pharmacy, Urban Outfitters, Lucky Strike upscale bowling, Sam Fox Restaurants, Designer District, The Breakfast Club and Gold’s Gym.
The key to maintaining and enhancing a successful Downtown, Keuth says, is to get more people to live in the immediate area. “We need to create a reasonably affordable housing option so young professionals can live here and enjoy the area,” he explains.
Arizona Business Magazine
A new 308-foot office tower notches the skyline of Downtown Phoenix. Hunt Construction Group recently topped off the 27-floor, 600,000 SF tower with its attached 3-story, 45,000 SF retail structure and 5-level underground parking garage, which opens in February.
When completed, the 1.2 MSF CityScape development will include a second tower featuring a 250-room, 400,000 SF boutique hotel; an additional 135,000 SF of retail, including a grocery store and pharmacy; a revamped, greener Patriots Square Park with retail elements; and two underground parking garages.
The RED Development project extends across 2 city blocks bordered by First Avenue and First Street, and Washington and Jefferson streets. A second-level pedestrian bridge will connect the 2 blocks.
Planning began in early 2006. Keith Earnest, vice president of development for RED Development, says the permitting and zoning process went smoothly with no major obstacles.
“The City of Phoenix really wanted this project to happen Downtown, and they teamed with us to make it happen,” he says. Only minor zoning amendments were made due to old alleys that traversed the land, which was made up of multiple parcels.
Some infrastructure work was required. For the electric, RED Development trenched back to the Garfield substation — about 6 city blocks and under the light rail system that wraps around two sides of the project. Water lines also were replaced due to their age.
Originally planned to span 3 city blocks, the project’s condominium tower was put on hold due to the current real estate market.
One of the deepest excavations in the Downtown area in some time, approximately 275,000 cubic yards of soil materials were excavated to a depth of more than 65 feet. The dig uncovered many interesting artifacts:
- A bowling alley with more than 150 buried bowling balls from the 1940s.
- Below-grade bank vaults.
- Foundations from the historic Hotel Luhrs built in 1887.
- Remains of prehistoric pit houses of Native American farmers who lived in the Valley between A.D. 1 and 1450.
The depth requirement of the hole was to accommodate the extra-thick mat footing for the elevator cores in the two towers. Surprisingly, RED Development says it didn’t encounter any problems, such as hitting water pipes or storage tanks.
The biggest challenge was designing and constructing the project to go on-line at different times and still be functional, says Robert Tindall, chairman of Callison Architects, the architectural firm over CityScape.
The rest of Phase I, which includes the new park with surrounding retail, is currently under construction by The Weitz Co. and will open June 2010. Phase II, the South Tower (hotel) and its retail structure, is slated for completion in June 2011.
Precise coordination and timing are needed to meet these tight schedules. For example, Hunt built temporary shoring walls to allow the office tower (and the portion of the garage under it), to get underway while utility relocation under Central Avenue proceeded concurrently. The remaining part of the garage, which extends under Central Avenue, was built later. In addition, parts of Phase II have been built ahead of time; for example, the elevator cores that will serve the future hotel tower already have been incorporated into the garage.
The office tower is a complete concrete post-tension structure, and was cast using a flying formwork system, which allowed for larger concrete pours. This method resulted in pouring a floor of concrete each week. The retail portion of CityScape — a 3-story, fireproofed steel structure with concrete topping slabs — was attached to the concrete frame of the office tower.
A unitized curtain wall system, designed for speed of construction, was used as the skin on the tower. Coupled with the flying formwork method, multiple trades were able to work on the tower floor-by-floor and enclose the structure at a much faster pace.
“Within a month of finishing the concrete, we were done with the glass on the building,” says Brent Leif, construction manager for Hunt Construction Group.
As of October 2009, the project consumed 8,500 tons of rebar, 63,881 cubic yards of concrete, 507 tons of steel and 206,000 SF of glazing. The tower was built with 8,159 lites of insulated high performance glass and 1,744 aluminum panels.
CityScape is tied into the Northwind Downtown district cooling system. Other sustainable features include high-performance, reflective glass, and a curtain wall system that was engineered to a high PSF standard for water infiltration. A raised “mesa level” will connect the North and South towers, and was carefully positioned to provide optimum shade throughout the year as a pedestrian haven.
The tower features a street-level lobby enclosed with a structural glass wall and a second-level lobby, which are connected by escalators. Lobby finishes include Bianco Dorre floor tile with noisettle limestone accents, Torrean wall stone, custom-ribbed light Emperador stream wall stone, and accent walls of ribbed Bendhiem glass. The ceiling is a mix of decorative painted sheetrock and suspended wood panel ceiling panels.
Steps on the exterior of the office tower add interest and texture to the facade, according to the architect. Retail was designed around the perimeter of CityScape to activate the street level of the project.
Colors for the project include beige and reddish browns “for a more contemporary and fresh feel that emphasizes CityScape is the new heart of Downtown Phoenix,” notes Tindall.
“This project not only provides a nice skyline statement, but links the various sections of Downtown that have been isolated for years,” he says. “We have created the connection between the sports, civic, cultural and municipal (venues), creating the new business and financial center for Phoenix.”
Arizona Business Magazine
Phoenix Convention Center
Despite a slumping economy, the newly expanded Phoenix Convention Center experienced a phenomenon expressed some years ago in a movie — “If you build it they will come.”
Indeed, convention delegates came in record numbers in 2009, attracted by the usual Phoenix amenities, including weather and reasonable prices. A new attraction was the convention center itself, which underwent a $600 million expansion project that was completed in December 2008, and tripled the size of meeting and exhibition space.
But John Chan, interim director of the Phoenix Convention Center, sees the recession taking a bite out of convention business in 2010. Looking ahead, Chan says the industry is moving into a tentative mode. Some groups are delaying making decisions on conventions because they don’t have a firm count on delegates. Businesses are deciding to send fewer people, and convention planners are opting against adding an extra day for a possible trip to the Grand Canyon, Chan says.
Still, Chan thinks the scheduled opening in mid-2010 of nearby CityScape, a multiuse project of restaurants and retail amenities that convention delegates always look for, and the existence of light rail service, will make Phoenix that much more desirable — even as the recession puts a crimp in business travel.
“We opened the new convention center during this down economy, and yet, during the last fiscal year we welcomed record numbers of convention delegates into the building,” Chan says. “The reason — most of the business was booked two to three years ago, while it was still under construction.”
In addition, the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel opened one block from the center.
“Those two events merged to set the stage for the current fiscal year,” Chan says.
Last fiscal year, which ended June 30, saw 276,000 convention delegates enter the center, compared to only 104,000 the previous year, a rousing 160 percent increase.
In a sign that the struggling economy won’t negatively impact the convention industry as much as some fear, in the first three months of the current fiscal year the center already had received 220,000 visitors. Healthy numbers were spurred by major conventions held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Best Western International, and a volleyball festival. Best Western held a dinner for 2,400, and earlier, the National Rifle Association staged a banquet for 6,000, the largest sit-down dinner ever in Arizona, according to Chan.
He credits the surge in attendance to the expanded convention center’s ability to provide space for groups of 10,000 to 15,000. What’s more, the design of the building enables the city to host several conventions and groups simultaneously. The Phoenix Convention Center has nearly 900,000 square feet of rentable space and a total of more than 2 million square feet. The increased size has moved Phoenix from the 69th-largest convention center in the U.S. to the top 20.
“It is definitely meeting our expectations,” says Chan, who previously served as Downtown Development Director for the city of Phoenix. “We’re able to host groups we were not able to handle before expansion, and they’re talking about coming back — getting them as part of the rotation. That speaks to good customer service and the quality of food and beverage. It has really put Phoenix on the map of the meeting/planning industry.”
Arizona Business Magazine
Name: Patrick Burkhart
Title: Assistant Director
Company: Maricopa County Human Services Department/ Maricopa Workforce Connections
Years with city: 3.5
Years in current position: 2.5
Entity Established: 1998
Employees in AZ: 71
Employees in HR dept.: 4
Words such as “tirelessly” and “diligently” are used to describe the work ethic of Patrick Burkhart as he collaborates with Maricopa Workforce Connections (MWC) to help people find jobs and assist local businesses seeking qualified employees to hire.
Burkhart is assistant director of the Maricopa County Human Services Department, and MWC is a department division.
MWC offers comprehensive recruitment and talent-acquisition services to businesses, organizations and associations located in Maricopa County and outside the city of Phoenix. Its services are particularly important in today’s recessionary times, as it researches labor market trends and helps job seekers identify their transferable skills. MWC also helps individuals refine their employment search to ensure they are applying for the right jobs using appropriate information and job-hunting techniques. MWC is funded by a federal grant under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, and offers its services for free to both businesses and people.
Building relationships is Burkhart’s forte. He establishes rapport with community partners, business leaders and others who may be beneficial to MWC’s clients. He oversees MWC operations and is always looking for opportunities to leverage support and improve efficiency. For example, Burkhart tapped the expertise of another agency to streamline MWC’s processes, reduce waste and alleviate staff stress caused by the increasing number of job-seeking clients requesting assistance at the county’s career centers.
Burkhart also took the initiative to bridge gaps between MWC and other work force development agencies in the region to form the Maricopa County Human Capital Collaborative. The collaborative applies for grant funding to enhance the efforts of local work force agencies and bring additional resources to the area.
Because MWC is federally funded and resources are directed to businesses and individuals, money is not available to pay for memberships in various organizations. Instead, Burkhart and his team work closely with chambers of commerce, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Arizona State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Governor’s Council On Workforce Policy at the Arizona Department of Commerce. Burkhart also works with dozens of public and private organizations that either provide services to the community or have a stake in MWC through positions on its youth council and board of directors.
MWC offers an array of business services, employer services, employed-worker training, on-the-job training, recruitment services, youth services and job fairs. MWC also informs businesses on an array of employment and training-related tax incentives. These incentives include state corporate income tax credits for the creation of new jobs at companies with less than 10 percent retail, a 40 to 60 percent reduction of property taxes for five years at small manufacturing companies, federal work opportunity tax credits and federal welfare-to-work tax credits.
MWC also offers assistance to companies that are downsizing and helps displaced employees with their transition to new employment. Services include information on unemployment insurance, career and job fairs, access to job postings, and workshops on job-search skills, resume writing, interviewing, personal finances and budgeting.