Tag Archives: Mill Avenue

La Bocca, WEB

La Bocca Opens North Phoenix Location

La Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar added another location last month to north Phoenix, where the restaurant offers a smaller, more intimate experience than its Mill Avenue location in Tempe.

Julian Wright of Fork & Dagger, a bar and restaurant development company, opened the north Phoenix location to tap into a market that is saturated with chain restaurants.

La Bocca offers a wine list with 100 choices stored in an on-site wine cellar. Mark Pope, who

Mediterranean Plate.

Mediterranean Plate.

worked the wine program at Boulders Resort in Carefree in the early 2000s, prepared the wine list at the new location. Pope and Wright trained the servers so that they could expertly suggest a wine from their eclectic list for whatever mood a customer is in. Pope is on the floor, too, making himself available to help out customers with their wine choices.

“What’s unique,” Wright said. “Is we’ve relied less on name brands and went with high quality wines.”

In order to make the wine really pop out there, La Bocca also uses Riedel Glassware for the wine, they make sure that the customer is given the right type of glass for the right type of wine.

“I learned the glass really makes the difference,” Wright said.

Sangria Blanco

Sangria Blanco

The expanded wine list and perfect glass isn’t the only thing different at the new La Bocca, the North Phoenix location looks different too, with a more rustic look and black and white photos emulating European fashion from the ’60s hanging on the walls.

The place is a throwback to the past, Wright says, along with the different interior the north location has an outdoor community patio with a fireplace.

“The place in general has a more sophisticated feel,” Wright said.

La Bocca in north Phoenix is going to be as linked with the local community as the Mill Avenue

location. Wright says that they’re outreaching to the local community and doing charity events with schools, too.

And the community is embracing La Bocca. Wright says it’s becoming the spot where neighbors bump into neighbors as cheers of greetings come from the customers as more fellow customers come on in through the door.

“A lot of them thank us for opening,” Wright said. “They like the new independent place in the area.”

Centerpoint Panorama_Smaller

CBRE Sells Historic Centerpoint on Mill in Tempe

Centerpoint on Mill, a landmark for Mill Avenue and the heart of downtown Tempe since its inception 28 years ago, has been sold by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based DMB, Inc., to Mill Avenue Retail LLC of Scottsdale. The 127,027 square-foot commercial property commanded a sale price of $38.35 million.

Covering 22 acres starting at the northwest corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive in Tempe, Centerpoint on Mill was created through a unique public-private partnership with the City of Tempe. The property was DMB’s first large-scale mixed use development.

One of DMB’s founding principles is based on the partnerships and the relationships built with municipalities, landowners, neighbors and tenants,” said Michael Burke, Vice President of Development for DMB. “The success of a development lies with the ability to craft and individualize a community or development based on the location and uniqueness of a parcel of land complemented by the visions of the municipality. DMB proudly partnered with the City of Tempe in the pursuit of creating and maintaining a vibrant and dynamic downtown area in and around Mill Avenue.”

Centerpoint on Mill represents one of the most significant redevelopment efforts in the history of the downtown area of Tempe and was a catalyst in bringing entertainment, national office and retail users to Mill Avenue. Throughout the project’s lifetime, DMB has been committed to maintaining a quality mix of retail, dining and office tenants that ensures and enhances the vibrancy of the Tempe community.

Over the past 28 years, the City of Tempe and DMB have worked together to create a point of pride for the Valley, a truly urban destination that models the live, work, play ideal. DMB’s work as placemakers, developing a downtown core featuring high quality national and local retailers, unique dining, art, theater, and residential, has helped brand Tempe as a destination for tourists and locals,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.

Glenn Smigiel, Bob Young, Steve Brabant and Rick Abraham with CBRE’s Phoenix office represented DMB in the transaction. Mill Avenue Retail LLC negotiated on their own behalf.

The sale of Centerpoint on Mill is an indicator of the health of the Tempe market and the continued strengthening of the Phoenix-metro area in general,” said Smigiel. “This is an excellent investment opportunity in a thriving submarket.”

Tempe continues to be one of the most active markets in the metro area with the sale of Centerpoint on Mill coming just months after the announcement of other major downtown Tempe development projects. USA Place, the future home of the USA Basketball headquarters, will be located on the southeast corner of Mill and University near Centerpoint on Mill. Other major projects new to the downtown Tempe market include the soon-to-break-ground Marina Heights, future home of a large regional headquarters for State Farm Insurance, and Hayden Ferry III, the third and final phase of Parkway Properties’ Hayden Ferry Lakeside office development.

Downtown Tempe continues to exceed industry market conditions with a Class-A office vacancy rate of 5.1percent. This is well below the metro Phoenix average of 18 percent. Job growth continues in Tempe as well. According to the City of Tempe, staff has participated in locating companies to Tempe in the past year resulting in 12,503 jobs and capital investment in the city exceeding $704 million.

The occupancy level, quality of tenants and prime location of Centerpoint on Mill allowed DMB to lease the property to stabilization. Overall, the property was 87% leased at time of sale while office space was 100% leased.

Current tenant roll includes Churchill’s Fine Cigars, Devil’s Diner, Fat Tuesday, Five Guys, Great Clips, The Handlebar Tempe, Jimmy John’s, Mellow Mushroom, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Pita Pit, Poppa Maize, Rita’s Italian Ice, Robbie Fox’s Public House and Sitewire. These tenants will soon be joined by AMC Theatres, Zipps Sports Grill, El Hefe, Hot N Juicy Crawfish, Lincoln Strategy Group and One Energy.

The sale also includes parking rights to approximately 720 parking spaces.

Tempe Town Lake July 4th Festival

Tempe lands state's largest office development deal

The City of Tempe announced today that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings will develop a site owned by Arizona State University adjacent to Tempe Town Lake, subject to City Council approval of development agreement details in the coming month.

State Farm will lease office space and anchor the multi-use development.

“We are thrilled that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings have been selected to co-develop and construct the State Farm regional hub,” said John Strittmatter, President of Ryan Companies US, Inc., Southwest Division.

“With retail and recreational amenities on site for State Farm employees and the entire community to enjoy, Marina Heights will become an important icon of the Tempe Town Lake landscape and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The Marina Heights project in Tempe will be the largest office development deal in Arizona history, with more than 2 MSF to be constructed on more than 20 acres. Construction costs are estimated at $600M. Additionally, 40,000 SF to 60,000 SF of retail amenities will complement the transit-oriented development, including food service, coffee shops, restaurants, business services, and fitness facilities.

The site will also feature an approximately 10-acre lakeside plaza, which will be open to the public.

“This is a proud day for Tempe and everyone involved. We are tremendously excited about what the addition of State Farm will mean to our community over the decades to come,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. “These employees, buildings, and amenities will further contribute to and showcase the vibrancy of Tempe Town Lake, Mill Avenue, and Arizona State University, and serve as a catalyst for more high-quality development.”

“We are thrilled that State Farm will be expanding in Arizona,” said Gov. Jan Brewer. “The jobs that will be created to make this project a reality will be a tremendous boon to our economy. This is a great example of how our plan to build an Arizona that is attractive to high value employers is hitting the mark.”

The five-building campus will be leased by State Farm and become a hub to include a combination of new hires and existing employees who will provide claims, service, and sales support to State Farm customers.

“State Farm selected Tempe because it has a growing population with skill sets that match our customers’ needs,” said Mary Crego, Senior Vice President, State Farm. “The site along Tempe Town Lake gives our employees access to nearby amenities as well as easy connections to public transportation.”

“We look forward to having State Farm as a neighbor and to working with the company on a variety of programs including employee recruitment and academic programs for their staff,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“State Farm’s decision to lease the land owned by the university immediately adjacent to the ASU Athletic Facilities District is the first major step in the campaign to fund new and renovated sports facilities for the university. The Athletic Facilities District will be home to an exciting mixed-use development reflecting high quality and the best practices of sustainability. A high stature tenant such as State Farm will add to the luster of the district and validates its attractiveness.”

The project is being developed by Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings. Tempe-based architectural firm DAVIS designed the project.

Tempe Town Lake July 4th Festival

Tempe lands state’s largest office development deal

The City of Tempe announced today that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings will develop a site owned by Arizona State University adjacent to Tempe Town Lake, subject to City Council approval of development agreement details in the coming month.

State Farm will lease office space and anchor the multi-use development.

“We are thrilled that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings have been selected to co-develop and construct the State Farm regional hub,” said John Strittmatter, President of Ryan Companies US, Inc., Southwest Division.

“With retail and recreational amenities on site for State Farm employees and the entire community to enjoy, Marina Heights will become an important icon of the Tempe Town Lake landscape and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The Marina Heights project in Tempe will be the largest office development deal in Arizona history, with more than 2 MSF to be constructed on more than 20 acres. Construction costs are estimated at $600M. Additionally, 40,000 SF to 60,000 SF of retail amenities will complement the transit-oriented development, including food service, coffee shops, restaurants, business services, and fitness facilities.

The site will also feature an approximately 10-acre lakeside plaza, which will be open to the public.

“This is a proud day for Tempe and everyone involved. We are tremendously excited about what the addition of State Farm will mean to our community over the decades to come,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. “These employees, buildings, and amenities will further contribute to and showcase the vibrancy of Tempe Town Lake, Mill Avenue, and Arizona State University, and serve as a catalyst for more high-quality development.”

“We are thrilled that State Farm will be expanding in Arizona,” said Gov. Jan Brewer. “The jobs that will be created to make this project a reality will be a tremendous boon to our economy. This is a great example of how our plan to build an Arizona that is attractive to high value employers is hitting the mark.”

The five-building campus will be leased by State Farm and become a hub to include a combination of new hires and existing employees who will provide claims, service, and sales support to State Farm customers.

“State Farm selected Tempe because it has a growing population with skill sets that match our customers’ needs,” said Mary Crego, Senior Vice President, State Farm. “The site along Tempe Town Lake gives our employees access to nearby amenities as well as easy connections to public transportation.”

“We look forward to having State Farm as a neighbor and to working with the company on a variety of programs including employee recruitment and academic programs for their staff,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“State Farm’s decision to lease the land owned by the university immediately adjacent to the ASU Athletic Facilities District is the first major step in the campaign to fund new and renovated sports facilities for the university. The Athletic Facilities District will be home to an exciting mixed-use development reflecting high quality and the best practices of sustainability. A high stature tenant such as State Farm will add to the luster of the district and validates its attractiveness.”

The project is being developed by Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings. Tempe-based architectural firm DAVIS designed the project.

tempe

Ryan Companies US, Sunbelt Holdings To Co-Develop 2 MSF Multi-Use Office Development In Tempe

The City of Tempe announced today that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings will develop a site owned by Arizona State University adjacent to Tempe Town Lake, subject to City Council approval of development agreement details in the coming month.

State Farm will lease office space and anchor the multi-use development.

“We are thrilled that Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings have been selected to co-develop and construct the State Farm regional hub,” said John Strittmatter, President of Ryan Companies US, Inc., Southwest Division.

“With retail and recreational amenities on site for State Farm employees and the entire community to enjoy, Marina Heights will become an important icon of the Tempe Town Lake landscape and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The Marina Heights project in Tempe will be the largest office development deal in Arizona history, with more than 2 MSF to be constructed on more than 20 acres. Construction costs are estimated at $600M. Additionally, 40,000 SF to 60,000 SF of retail amenities will complement the transit-oriented development, including food service, coffee shops, restaurants, business services, and fitness facilities.

The site will also feature an approximately 10-acre lakeside plaza, which will be open to the public.

“This is a proud day for Tempe and everyone involved. We are tremendously excited about what the addition of State Farm will mean to our community over the decades to come,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell. “These employees, buildings, and amenities will further contribute to and showcase the vibrancy of Tempe Town Lake, Mill Avenue, and Arizona State University, and serve as a catalyst for more high-quality development.”

“We are thrilled that State Farm will be expanding in Arizona,” said Gov. Jan Brewer. “The jobs that will be created to make this project a reality will be a tremendous boon to our economy. This is a great example of how our plan to build an Arizona that is attractive to high value employers is hitting the mark.”

The five-building campus will be leased by State Farm and become a hub to include a combination of new hires and existing employees who will provide claims, service, and sales support to State Farm customers.

“State Farm selected Tempe because it has a growing population with skill sets that match our customers’ needs,” said Mary Crego, Senior Vice President, State Farm. “The site along Tempe Town Lake gives our employees access to nearby amenities as well as easy connections to public transportation.”

“We look forward to having State Farm as a neighbor and to working with the company on a variety of programs including employee recruitment and academic programs for their staff,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“State Farm’s decision to lease the land owned by the university immediately adjacent to the ASU Athletic Facilities District is the first major step in the campaign to fund new and renovated sports facilities for the university. The Athletic Facilities District will be home to an exciting mixed-use development reflecting high quality and the best practices of sustainability. A high stature tenant such as State Farm will add to the luster of the district and validates its attractiveness.”

The project is being developed by Ryan Companies US, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings. Tempe-based architectural firm DAVIS designed the project.

Monti's logo

Monti's Holds Contest To Name Its New Outdoor Patio

Have you noticed the new outdoor patio currently under construction at Monti’s in Tempe on Mill Ave.? It’s scheduled to open at the end of February, but in the meantime, it’s in need of a catchy name — and Tempe’s oldest restaurant is seeking your help.

Monti's patioAbout the patio
The new, chic 2,000-square-foot patio can seat up to 130 people and will feature three sophisticated fire pits, urban bar stools and its own food and drink menu with 12 specialty beers on tap.

Name the patio
Email your name suggestion, along with your name, address, Monti's patiophone number and email address, to NamethepatioforMontis@gmail.com. Monti’s reserves the rights to all names submitted and will announce the winner at the grand opening party for the new outdoor patio in late February. The contest closes on February 1st.

The prize
The winner, who will be notified by mail and email, will receive a complimentary party in March for 20 people of his/her choice on the outside patio with selected drinks and menu options for the party.

“The Valley and Tempe have always been really good to us,” says Michael Monti, owner of Monti’s. “So we thought it was only fitting to let the people who have been coming to Monti’s for generations pick the name of our new patio.”

Monti’s in Tempe is the oldest continually occupied structure in the entire greater Phoenix area and has seen the likes of everyone from Carl Hayden and Carmen Miranda to Steven Baldwin, John Wayne and Bruce Springsteen.

For more information on Monti’s, visit montis.com or call (480) 967-7594.

Monti’s

100 S. Mill Ave.
Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 967-7594
montis.com

Hayden Ferry Lakeside II Office Tower

CBRE Completes $86 Million Sale of Hayden Ferry Lakeside II Office Tower

The Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company, CBRE, has completed its $86 million sale of the Hayden Ferry Lakeside II property.

The property is located at 60 E. Rio Salado parkway in Tempe. The seller remains undisclosed and was represented by CBRE’s Brad Anderson and Bryan Taute, along with Kevin Shannon, Todd Tydlaska and Ken White from the firm’s California office.

CBRE’s Jim Fijan, of Phoenix, represented the buyer, who also owns the adjacent Hayden Ferry Lakeside I and is an affiliate of Parkway Properties.

The Hayden Ferry Lakeside II is a 12-story Class A multi-tenant office building and is located within a 1.6 million square feet project. This project includes offices, retail and residential condominium units. The building, built in 2007, was 95% occupied at the time of sale.

The location of the building creates for a vibrant environment for tenants, as it is set along Tempe Town Lake, and is surrounded by countless dinning and shopping venues on the Mill Avenue entertainment district.

“The Phoenix office leasing market has turned and is gaining momentum. It was one of only eight office markets nationally that absorbed over 1.8 million square feet in 2011, with much of that absorption focused in Class A office assets like Hayden Ferry Lakeside. This transaction again demonstrated capital’s continued desire for core office product.” said CBRE’s Shannon.

Taute added, “The significant lease up over the last 18 months and subsequent sale is a testament to the quality of the building. We anticipate leasing demand for this project to continue for the foreseeable future.”

For more information on the largest commercial real estate services firm (in terms of 2011 revenue), visit their website at www.cbre.com.

The company, with nearly, 34,000 employees, provides services for real estate owners, investors, and occupiers.

Fiesta Bowl Block Party in Tempe, AZ

The 27th Annual Fiesta Bowl Block Party in Tempe, AZ


Mill Avenue District in Tempe, Arizona.

Photo Credit: Flickr, planetc1


This year’s Fiesta Bowl Block Party is all about new traditions, new additions, and celebrating the New Year.

This year marks the 27th Annual Fiesta Bowl Block Party, Arizona’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration. Attendees can expect to see headlining band Jimmy Eat World and opening band The Maine take the main stage, university bands marching through downtown, nonstop entertainment, the two fireworks displays kicking off 2011 and much more.

More than 100,000 locals and visiting college football fanatics annually attend the Fiesta Bowl Block Party, a family friendly event.

Because the Block Party had to relocate last year to the Mill Avenue District between Rio Salado and University, Rich Ripley, Fiesta Bowl Block Party’s event coordinator, said the relocation hasn’t and won’t hinder the success of the Block Party.

In fact, the relocation of the event has allowed them to put entertainment on every corner in downtown Tempe, and the light rail provides easy access to the Block Party.


Mill Ave. Bridge in Tempe, AZ.

Photo Credit: Flickr, twak


So what was the real challenge this year, according to Ripley?

“Our challenge every year is how to keep the event fresh for the people that attend,” Ripley said. “Some of the new things this year are a stage for Scandelesque, an outdoor sports club, [and] the video dance display. We also keep old favorites that people love like Dueling Pianos and the Craig Davis Magic Show.”

The multimedia displays are a new addition to the Block Party this year. They will add a sound and light experience never seen before.

“We have basically taken a dance club and put it into the middle of an intersection,” Ripley said. “We have had [it] at the Block Party for 7 or 8 years.  We decided to move it to the Center of the Party and make it fun for everyone who attends.”

As for a new tradition added to the event, it started last year – the confetti blast at midnight.

“Our midnight tradition now is our confetti blast with the fireworks in the sky,” Ripley said. “People love it and we have made it a tradition. It is quite amazing to be in the middle of that.”

27th Annual Fiesta Bowl Block Party:
December 31, 2010
5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Please visit Fiesta Bowl Block Party’s website for more information.

Mill Ave in Tempe, Arizona

2 Valley Treasures Will Receive A Little TLC

Phoenix (November 29, 2010) – The Tempe City Council recently voted unanimously to move forward with plans to restore Papago Park and Mill Avenue. The Papago Park restoration plans focus on improvements to marketing and park amenities while Mill Avenue will receive some much needed clean-up and landscaping.

Papago Park Master PlanPapago Park Master Plan – The cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale together with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) joined forces to conduct a public planning process to develop a vision and series of recommendations to guide the future of Papago Park as a premier regional park serving these cities and the larger region. Papago Park is situated in the heart of the greater Phoenix Metropolitan area at the intersection of the municipal boundaries of Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale.

master plan is to protect, preserve and enhance the physical, social, recreational and cultural resources the park provides to the regionThe park’s 2,000 acres include recreational open space and a wide variety of privately owned and leased facilities which serve a myriad of users. The intent of the master plan is to protect, preserve and enhance the physical, social, recreational and cultural resources the park provides to the region which will hopefully provide the ingredients necessary to achieve ‘Great American Park’ status.

Papago Park Regional master planThe Tempe City Council recently approved their City’s part of the Papago Park Regional master plan. The comprehensive planning process, embarked upon jointly by the cities and SRPMIC, resulted in a plan that includes measures aimed at restoring key areas of the park and promoting it as a single attraction. The master plan addresses the deficiencies in marketing efforts for the Park, which includes such tourist attractions as the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden which are self-promoted. The Council’s approval includes a plan that proposes signage, advertising and better connections between trails in the park to encourage visitors to see more than one attraction during day trips. Mayor Hugh Hallman focused on the promotion of some of the park’s Native American ruins, which include art and landmarks used by the Hohokam, who settled the Salt River Valley in the 400s. He feels very strongly about the interest of visitors in such sites as Hole in the Rock.

plans to improve Mill AvenueMill Avenue - City Council also approved plans to improve Mill Avenue with the collaboration of the Downtown Tempe Community. A private company that helps businesses on Mill with marketing and outreach, the DTC will soon begin employing crews to clean up trash on the street and remove graffiti six days a week. The DTC crews will double as ambassadors who can answer visitors’ questions and distribute district maps. The City will provide landscape improvements in the medians.

Through this process, DTC and the City have also worked together to address the issues of business owners in the district. Their efforts include distributing a flyer to better illustrate the problems that business owners have with damage, litter, graffiti etc. in order to connect the business owners with the various City or DTC departments that can help resolve those issues which have long been a source of confusion.

Urban Living

Urban Living Trends and Design

Urban Living Trends
and Design

What do the experts say on the Valley’s latest housing fad?

By David M. Brown

Developers are investing billions of dollars into urban-living newbuilds and renovations. Lofts, condos, townhomes in a variety of configurations and high-rises are attracting an array of buyers, from Millennials and Gen Xers to Baby Boomer empty-nesters. As the homesteading paradigm changes, Phoenix is distancing itself from the Wagon out West, put up your fence and enjoy the rural lifestyle mentality. Reporter David M. Brown brought together a group of experts to discuss this and the burning issues surrounding Valley urban living.

Urban LivingDMB: Let’s start with some of the larger issues of urban living. Why the proliferation of urban living spaces in an area whose tendencies have been almost anti-urban?
BG: One of the major drivers is that people who live here didn’t grow up in Phoenix and they’re used to a different type of living. We have a large part of the population coming in from the Chicago area, and that’s the way they’re use to living. The reasons? For one, people like to be around people. The hallways become the front porches, you run into your neighbors in the elevators.

DMB: Car dependency: How is that driving the demand for urban living?
SB: We’re working on several sites on the light rail route in downtown Phoenix, so developers are banking on having close access to that. Indeed, these developments would decrease our dependency on the automobile. Another reason is that people are tired of the daily commute, the sprawl. They’re starting to focus where the activities are.

DMB: But that’s a paradigm shift. People traditionally moved West for open space, not for urban space.
JB: Yes. The development patterns of the past have changed. In the past it was the developers rolling out the red carpet, grabbing up land because that was the most cost effective way to go. But what’s happening now is that there’s an influx of people and a demand for urban redevelopment. Right now, there may be 2,000—some developers say 5,000—of these units in construction. That will shake out in time. Traditionally the Valley developed in a variety of nodes, such as Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe. And, of all of them, where you can work and play, the one that I think has the best chance is Tempe, which has so many of the components for success in place. Kierland is a great place, and will be a great model and successful, but it’s still car dependent and I think it always will be…For downtown Phoenix, I am not yet sure as to how it will sustain itself in terms of the urban living model. There are a lot of condos being built or on the boards.

DMB: Hasn’t the urban living component been the element that has been missing there for so many years. The stadium is good, the entertainment venues, but the city needed people down there 24/7 to support the restaurants, the shops?
SB: And a grocery store!
JB: Yes. We will see how that plays out.

DMB: How about demographics? Is youth is a factor for the rise of urban living? We are one of the youngest big cities in the country.
BG: I think older people are getting younger, too. They’re looking at the same kind of fashions as the younger generation.
JB: It’s a lifestyle decision. Across the board, there’s a choice being made, whether you’re a Baby Boomer or a young professional or a young couple. They’re making a choice whether to live out on the fringe or near the mix of what’s going on.

DMB: How about the spaces themselves? They are various in terms of design—high rises, lofts, condos—but similar perhaps in terms of flexibility. That is, they are performing the functions of the white picket-fence home.
DL: We’ve been doing towers and townhomes, too, with equal interest by the buying public. What draws them together is that they must be part of the urban fabric. The townhomes, with a front door, open up to the street with a front yard. The high rises also engage the city as well.
SB: The Esplanade on the Camelback Corridor is a high-end area, with an average size of about 2,800 square feet. Those buyers want something totally different than what the loft product buyers want—more toward downtown and Tempe. The finish levels are different, the prices are different.

DMB: Much of this urban living market is enabled by the wealthy. What about overall affordability? Can the urban living model provide a variety for students and young couples?
DL: Yes, I think so. Let’s look at the markets that we’ve identified: First, the retirees; then the empty-nesters; dual-income, no children; investors; and those who are buying a second home.
BG: I think we can throw in a new category of the newly divorced . . .
SB: Then there’s another category, such as the W Hotel going downtown: the hotel, with a major portion of condominiums.

DMB: So because of the many markets, there are opportunities for affordable urban living spaces?
SB: Yes, that’s what’s driving the smaller units in downtown Phoenix. The goal our developer has on the downtown projects is a price point under $400 a square foot. That’s difficult to do on high-rise construction because of the requirements of that mode of construction. So, if you can keep the price under $500,000, that’s a good entry level price point.

DMB: What about the design itself?
JB: You mentioned flexibility and that’s a big part of those spaces. Say it’s a studio or a one-bedroom: Our challenge is how to make that one-bedroom feel as if it’s the biggest one bedroom you can get? Well, you get floor-to-ceiling glass. You have a balcony with doors, so the room expands when they’re open and you get additional space. Say the balcony is 180 square feet and the unit is 640 or so; you’re entertaining and you open up those doors, so now you have an 800-square-foot unit.

DMB: This is a different way of thinking. The luxury single home opens out toward more space; these require the designer’s capacity to, in essence, create space?
JB: You become as efficient as you can; you use every inch.
SB: You want the greatest floor-to-ceiling height these units can afford. At the same, time, you have a fixed envelope for high-rise projects. What we will often do is provide the lower floor-to-ceiling heights on the lower floors and greater on the upper. It would be nice if we didn’t have to fight the limit on every project.
BG: Getting back to the matter of space, I guess I would call it “rigid flexibility” because you want to move things around inside the units. Certain matters are fixed, like the plumbing; but you can change the interior, too, with items like furnishings.

DMB: You might speak a little to that, Janelle? You coordinated the models at the Landmark on Central, originally built in 1964 as a luxury apartment complex. What were your challenges to convert these to 21st century condos?
JS: You want to retain functionality yet fit it into a very small space. You’re dealing with a market that wants to work at home, wants a place to dine, a view, all of that. But you have a small space. You have a kitchen that opens onto a living area, which is very good. But the developer was creative, too. The company took a studio and connected it with a one bedroom and made a two bedroom. This allowed them to use the entrance to the studio as a larger plaza and an office space. So, we were able to pull lines in there and utilize this space for their computer or laptop. We were also able to develop usable space from some of the closets, while still maintaining closet space in the bedrooms.

DMB: That seems to be a theme here. Maximize, utilize to the fullest. How about furnishings?
JS: Well, we had to custom design a lot of the furniture there. We made tables lower, for example, which makes the ceilings appear higher. And, the developer also did some unique features to reawaken those existing hallways.

DMB: How is the market dictating what you are building?
BG: Technology is key. We need to make sure the units are wired for everything. The work-from-home trend is a big deal, and wireless technology is certainly important.
JB: It’s an always-on environment. We have people constantly walking around with their PDAs and constant inputs.
SB: Well, we’re doing media rooms in some of our spaces—places that collect all of these inputs. Big-screen TV, computer, that sort of thing.
JB: So many of these places have concierge services where you can check in through a media center to see what’s going on in downtown Phoenix tonight.

DMB: And this is also good for empty-nesters, too?
JS: Allied with this is that so many of these buyers don’t want to do anything. They just want to turn the key, get their car, which has been brought up by the valet service and drive away.

DMB: Are we becoming more cosmopolitan with our living needs?
DL: We talked about Tempe, that it has so many of these components for urban living in place. For one, they have to be safe. And, there have to be schools in place. You have to have services and, fourth, you have to have things to do. That’s what we’re doing in the warehouse district of Phoenix, to make a segue into an entertainment strip they are working on. If you’re missing one, that’s not good. Tempe has it all.

DMB: At Centerpoint in Tempe, you are actually trying to embrace the street.
JB: Yes, the front plaza of the project is the front yard.
BG: Of course, it’s not for everybody. When we were developing Kierland, we actually looked at Mill Avenue.
JB: Tempe is its own model and Kierland is a different and very successful model. Each can be successful in its own way. What it all comes back to is location. You can build a small unit because you have all of the other amenities around you. These young people coming out of school, they are used to spending time in an urban environment, so that they can go out shopping, sitting at the street café. It’s an extension of their living space.
JS: I have two questions. As the economy levels off, will the excitement level off about these spaces? And, the lifestyle issue. I may walk down the hall and run into people I may not want to see. I think one of the high rises, perhaps the Esplanade, advertised that someone may knock on your door for a cocktail party. Well, maybe that’s too much. Where’s my privacy?
BG: To the question of are we overbuilt: I think we can all name the projects that are going, which are working. Most developers are not going to get building until they have a substantial number of presales, so it’s not going forward if it’s not going to work.
JS: I don’t think we are quite there yet. I would be concerned about the ones on the boards.
SB: We’ve got 10 or 12 towers on the boards and not all of them are going to happen. It depends who pulls the trigger first. The developers all seem to be waiting there on the next guy.

DMB: More for the high rises or the lofts?
SB: I see it more for the high rises because of the costs involved.
DL: We have two things that are happening in this state that are not happening elsewhere. One is population. As long as we are getting more people at the rate that we are getting them, I am not sure that we will have this sort of bust. If population levels off, then something else may happen. The other part of this is that the mayor in his recent “State of the Downtown” address said that the goal is to have 10,000 people downtown. So, align that with housing, and go and find 50 or so available pieces of land for the new developments. The answer is that you have to go up. And with high rises, as you know, there are often years of the entitlement process to go through.

AZ Business MagazineDMB: We have to sum up. Let’s go around the room for some closing thoughts.
SB: As an architect, I like these projects because they come with a program, rather than just a series of specs and spaces. I think this kind of project is gong to continue to happen more and more in Phoenix. My only concern involves construction costs and their escalation: These projects could become both unaffordable to build and also to sell.
BG: I think we also need to revisit how buildings are built. Over the next 10 years, I think there will be a lot of changes coming on line.
JB: I’ve been here for 10 years now, from Chicago. I came out here for school, but I stayed out here because I thought the opportunity here was greater than it was in Chicago. When I first came out, from a younger generation’s perspective, Phoenix was a stop to somewhere else; now it’s become a place to go. These projects are part of that evolution. These monumental buildings help to create urban density and a city. This is why we are all here, to execute these kinds of projects. They contribute to the vitality of the economy, of the city.

 

 

Arizona Business Magazine Aug/Sept 2006

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