Tag Archives: RSP Architects

Portland on the Park, Courtesy of DAVIS

Concentrated Culture: The symbiosis of new-build and adaptive reuse

There are undeniable truths in commercial real estate. For instance — retail follows rooftops. However, when the right variables come together, the presence of retail can create a demand for mixed-use communities.

This is a phenomenon Michelle Schwartz, associate at RSP Architects, has observed in her firm’s recent work.

“Arizona has such a short history when compared with the rest of the United States and as such, we have developed around a more vehicular centralized  society,” says Schwartz. “When we look at new communities — and the desire for connection in neighborhoods — creating mixed-use flexibility where residents can truly live-work-play is unique.”

The Row, Courtesy of RSP Architects

The Row, Courtesy of RSP Architects

RSP Architects has designed The Row in downtown Chandler, a 60KSF two-story mixed-use development in the city’s newly designated entertainment district. The project’s anchor is Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, an Austin, Texas-based dine-in theater expected to bring 700 people to downtown Chandler four times a day.

“Today’s retail focuses on experience, which is exactly what The Row will bring,” Schwartz says, adding that many restaurateurs’ interest in the area has been piqued by the project.

Another rooftop project that has sought out a vibrant area in which to incubate is Portland on the Park, a 14-story luxury condo development by Habitat Metro and Sunbelt Holdings, designed by DAVIS Architecture. This project, jokes Habitat’s Timothy Sprague, has a three-acre front yard and 32-acre backyard, referring to the Japanese Friendship Garden and Margaret T. Hance Park adjacent to the site.

“The big different between suburban and urban environments is we’re able to do our own placemaking,” says Sunbelt Holdings President and CEO John Graham. “It’s critical to be near meaningful open spaces and more interesting amenities.”

Sunbelt Holdings, largely known for its master planned communities throughout Arizona, is stepping off the golf courses and bringing its suburban sensibility to the urban environment of downtown Phoenix. The company’s 149-unit Portland on the Park is also being constructed near the evolving Roosevelt Arts District. The cultural developments of the parks and Roosevelt Row were “absolutely critical” to the identity of Portland on the Park, Graham says.

He’s been following the development of the area for almost five years, since his eldest son moved into Portland Place. Through his son, Graham says, he watched and learned to understand the dynamics of the area, which has evolved over the course of the project with light rail and the growth of ASU’s downtown campus.

Graham says he’s seeing similar trends in Chandler, Phoenix and Gilbert and he has his eyes on Mesa.

“I think there’s a direct correlation between Marina Heights and Portland on the Park, Tempe Town Lake and Margaret T. Hance Park,” Graham says. The urban energy and urban vibes they share, he says, “is because of ASU students and the really fun, cool gathering places like The Yard.”

The Yard in Tempe

The Yard in Tempe

The Yard on 7th Street and Camelback Road was the shot in the dark heard around the Valley.

A former motorcycle garage was turned into a multi-tenant restaurant space that shares a patio and yard area. The Fox Restaurant Concepts design has since been emulated in what is Sam Fox’s largest project to date, The Yard at Farmers Arts District.

“When The Yard opened, it opened everyone’ eyes,” says Dave Sellers, president of LGE Design Build.

“The first Yard was very much an exploratory mission to see how successful it’d be,” says Brian Frakes, who worked on the first Yard with WDP Partners, and the second Yard with Common Bond.

“The Tempe one was different because it was west of the rail,” explains Frakes. “It was a dense, urban area. State Farm hasn’t even opened up yet, but there were a lot of good things coming. One-thousand multifamily units around us, and we noticed a strong southeast Valley group at The Yard on 7th. We wanted to capture the southeast Valley (at the new Yard).”
There were a lot of State Farm and multifamily conversations in the planning stages of The Yard in Tempe, says Frakes.

Marina Heights

Marina Heights

“I think it’s the sum of all the parts that makes these places so dynamic and interesting. I think restaurant and retail is the big driver because employers are looking for that amenity base,” says Frakes.

Sellers announced plans for The Colony, a similar concept nearby the original Yard development. He is also working in downtown Gilbert’s Heritage District on The Marketplace, which houses a Fox concept restaurant, among others, and office space. Since Gilbert doesn’t have the same kind of old buildings as downtown Phoenix, LGE Design Build built Marketplace to look like something that had been there much longer than it had.
“It is risky,” Sellers says. “It’s not your cookie cutter retailer. It’s not a power center where you have a Walmart. It’s not that. You’re developing what the clientele and customer kind of like, hoping the retailers believe in it.”

Retailers acclimate, he adds.

“What’s neat is we have projects that are larger retail, national users trying to fit into a space that isn’t a typical space,” he says. To Graham’s point, Sellers says his company is looking to develop before big projects come through the pipeline.

Rivulon, for example, is a $750M mixed-use business park that broke ground in 2014 on Gilbert Road and the Loop 202 in Gilbert.

Gilbert’s Economic Development Director Dan Henderson sees a symbiotic relationship between developments such as Nationwide Realty Investors’ Rivulon project and the Heritage District.

Zinburger at Heritage Marketplace

Zinburger at Heritage Marketplace

“Candidly, you need both (types of development),” says Henderson. “You can’t have one without the other. These things work with each other and are in some ways the defining element of opposites attract. People will be attracted to both areas for different reasons.”
He refers to Heritage District as the “living room” of the community and Rivulon as the “family room” of Gilbert.

“What we’ve found in (Nationwide Realty Investors President) Brian Ellis and his team is a partner that is not looking at today, but at 20 years from now,” says Henderson. “It’s a similar partnership in the Heritage District.”

“The $64,000 question is: Is it a blip or shallow market?” Graham asks. “It’s not a blip. It’s a trend. The market is deeper than (people) think it is. A lot of people are thinking there’s a slowdown in master planned communities and that’s what’s driving apartment development, but it’s a modified business and trend that’s going to stay.”

First Place, RSP Architects

Autistic adults move into First Place™ beta site

Adults with autism have moved into the beta site for the First Place Transition Academy, one of three components of the future First Place mixed-use residential property in Phoenix.  The Academy is teaching independent living, career development and social skills for a population that experiences a “services cliff” after high school, according to a new recently released national autism indicators report. First Place serves primarily young adults.

In April, residents moved into 29 Palms Apartments, a development of the Foundation for Senior Living, which co-locates six two-bedroom apartments for adults with autism and 15 affordable multi-generational housing units. Watch this video about First Place and the 29 Palms beta site.

“First Place is a home for my son to thrive and contribute to the broader community,” says parent, Bonnie Kluger. “First Place is supplementing the skills he already has to advance him on the road to independence.”

“We are thrilled resident students are moving in and experiencing independent living for the first time,” said Jeff Ross, First Place executive director. “Participants have completed a seven-week orientation and continue to learn skills from their independent living classrooms, also known as apartments.  They’re also learning about community life that includes grocery shopping, navigating transportation, applying for a job and expanding their social networks.”

First Place and the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) are collaborating on the two-year First Place Transition Academy, which teaches functional life skills from 29 Palms, provides paid work internships throughout the community and offers independent living courses on site and through SARRC’s Vocational & Life Skills Academy.

“The program aims to teach individuals the skills they need to live independently in their own homes as well as establish and maintain competitive employment,” says Paige Raetz Ph.D., Residential Transition Academy Director at SARRC.

Half of the new student participants have moved into 29 Palms.  More prospective students are now being assessed and interviewed to determine if the Academy is a good match for their next step into adult life. Annual tuition, which covers rent, classes, individualized services and activities, is $42,000/year.

The new Academy participants will live at the beta site and have the option to live at the new First Place mixed-use residential development, expected to break ground in Phoenix early next year and open in early 2017. The property will be located at 3rd Street & Catalina, within walking distance to public transit and light rail.  Envisioned as a replicable model offering an innovative approach to housing, First Place combines three complementary components: First Place Apartments (for residents), First Place Transition Academy (for students), and First Place Leadership Institute (a 10,000-square-foot facility for service providers, professionals and physicians).

The First Place Leadership Institute already includes a national faculty, advancing the continuing education and training of support service providers. Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D., the director of the Autistic Global Initiative, is serving as the curriculum specialist for the First Place Leadership Institute and member of its national faculty.

“As individuals with autism grow into young adulthood, we are embarking on a journey toward solutions. First Place is one of those solutions,” Paradiz said. “Our curriculum is finding positive, refreshing and thoughtful ways to help individuals with autism be more independent.”

Providing a local post-high school option is critical for adults with autism. New research from A.J. Drexel Autism Institute’s Life Course Outcomes Research Program details that youth entering adulthood experience a “services cliff” or a steep drop-off in services.

▪    Key findings of the National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood include:

Over one third (37 percent) of young adults with autism were disconnected during their early 20s, meaning they never got a job or continued education after high school. In comparison, less than 6 percent of young adults with other types of disabilities were disconnected.

74 percent of young adults on the autism spectrum have not attended postsecondary education, including 2-year and 4-year colleges, at some time between high school and their early 20s.

Approximately one in four young adults with autism were socially isolated, meaning theynever saw or talked with friends and were never invited to social activities within the past year.

Four out of five young adults on the autism spectrum never lived independently (away from parents without supervision) between high school and their early 20s.

Employment is often the primary transition goal of students with disabilities as they prepare to exit high school. The report indicates 58 percent of young adults on the autism spectrum worked for pay outside the home between high school and their early 20s—a rate far lower than young adults with other types of disabilities. Those who got jobs generally worked part-time for low wages.

According to Paul Shattuck, PhD, leader of the Life Course Outcomes Research Program and an associate professor at Drexel, and member of the First Place Leadership Institute faculty, “Over half of young adults work, and about one-third continue their education. Some do both. But one-third of all young adults with autism do neither. They are disconnected from the outcomes that special education was targeting.”

Refer to this Autism Indicators link for a complete copy of the report.

“A.J. Drexel Autism Institute’s new research report clearly defines the issues First Place and SARRC are addressing.  Residential experiences combined with continuing education and real community experiences will help ensure more adults with autism enjoy the quality of life they desire and that parents like me dream about for our loved ones,” said Denise D. Resnik, First Place founder, board chair and president, and SARRC co-founder.

Vintage Partners, Kitchell and RSP Architects will construct an Alamo Drafthouse in Chandler. Courtesy RSP Architects

Chandler entertainment district gets 60KSF upgrade with The Row

Vintage Partners, the Phoenix-based commercial real estate development and investment company, announced its selection by the Chandler City Council to develop the The Row in downtown Chandler’s newly designated entertainment district, an all-new mixed used project on the SW corner of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard. Created in partnership with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, this stylish and pedestrian friendly 60KSF, two-story mixed-used development will be the heart and soul of the new Downtown Chandler Entertainment District when the first phase opens in Q4 2015. Highlights will include the Alamo Drafthouse Chandler, an eight-screen theatre and adjacent bar & restaurant that will serve as the first Arizona location of this iconic Austin, Tex.-based chain boasting 19 locations nationwide. Furthermore, this development will showcase a wide variety of exciting local dining options.
The Row was selected by the Chandler City Council following a rigorous open application process to determine the best way to develop this prominent, 4-acre site. Along with Vintage Partners and Alamo Drafthouse, project partners include former Chandler City Councilman Martin Sepulveda, RSP Architects and Kitchell Development.

“The Vintage Partners team has all lived and worked in the Valley for decades, so we’re committed to delivering a world-class entertainment district to Chandler’s already vibrant downtown,” says David Scholl, Vintage Partners principle heading the downtown Chandler efforts. “Our goal is to bridge the gap between the historic downtown to the south and the more suburban area just north, to create a unique, energetic gathering place that still looks like it belongs.”  Scholl, a former executive vice president of Westcor, helped spearhead the creation of the Chandler Fashion Center before becoming a principle and forming Vintage Partners in 2011 with a collective portfolio that’s delivered more than 14 million sq.-ft. of retail development and 60,000-acres of single-family residential projects.

The City of Chandler leadership helped pave the way for this project to come to life.

“We were looking for a signature project to act as an entryway to Downtown, and I believe this project fits,” said Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “Council just designated the area as an entertainment district, and this will be an excellent fit for Downtown as we continue to grow as a destination.”

“[We’ve] been looking for the perfect site for our first venue in Arizona and finally found it in Downtown Chandler,” says Alamo Drafthouse Chandler partner, Craig Paschich. “With the energy invested in downtown Chandler by the City and the area’s already impressive growth, we couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to bring the first cinema eatery to downtown Chandler adding to the area’s vibrant restaurant and retail landscape.” Alamo Drafthouse has earned accolades like “Best Theater Ever” (Time Magazine) and “the coolest theater in the world” (Wired).

The initial phase of the downtown Chandler development will include additional space for restaurants, retail and offices, with the potential to add up to 50 residences, plus additional spaces for a fitness center or yoga studio and a parking garage.


New to Market: Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Hotel

Developer: Wild Horse Pass Development Authority
General contractor: W.E. O’Neil Construction
Architect: RSP Architects
Project Management Firm: TynanGroup, Inc.
Location: Adjacent to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
Size: 74KSF
Value: WND
Start/Completion: February 2014 to early 2015

The new Four Points by Sheraton will be a 74KSF, 134 key, six-story hotel owned by the Gila River Indian Community and developed by the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority. The hotel will be managed by Starwood and will fly under the Four Points flag. The hotel is the key anchor of the Toka Sticks development, and the facility will include a bar & restaurant, private dining, fitness room, 2KSF of meeting and event space (indoor and outdoor) and is scheduled to open early 2015. The historical 160-acre Toka Sticks 18-hole golf course will receive several upgrades, and boast a new replacement 3,900 SF club house, pro shop, grill and patio, along with a state of the art 4KSF cart barn, scheduled to be completed late 2014. The existing Toka Sticks Golf Course will remain open during construction. A convenience store/fuel station is also included as part of the Toka Sticks development, and will incorporate the former Toka Sticks Smoke Shop with a convenient drive-thru option. The 4KSF convenience store and fuel station is scheduled to open later this year.

The Annex

postinoAdaptive reuse of a 1952 school building into a two-restaurant building with large patios adjacent to College Avenue and across the street from the new College Avenue Commons.

Developer: Wetta Ventures
General Contractor: UEB Builders
Architect: Brick & West, LLC and RSP Architects
Location: College Avenue and 6th Street, Tempe
Size: 7,323 SF
Value: $1.2M
Start/Completion: January to August 2014


RED AWARDS 2014: Architect of the Year

On Feb. 26, AZRE hosted the 9th Annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2013 and the construction teams involved. AZRE held an open call for nominations and more than 100 projects were submitted by architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms in Arizona. Click here to view all 2014 RED Awards Winners.‎

RSP Architects
Winner of Best Public Project: McCord Hall
Finalist in Best Redevelopment Project: The Yard

RSP Architects has served clients for 34 years in more than 10 market sectors. The company, headquartered in Minneapolis has a three-foot-tall penguin named Opus for a mascot. With that said, RSP’s Phoenix office seems drawn to what can be described as “cool” projects. From the adaptive reuse of an old church to a Taco Guild in central Phoenix’s Old School O7 development to transforming an old motorcycle garage to a trendy restaurant hub known as The Yard, RSP is slowly adding vibrancy and density to the metro area. RSP was also involved with the innovative McCord Hall, which is a work of art as well as function on ASU’s main campus. RSP also worked on a student housing study at ASU and is currently working on collections for the School of Life Sciences at ASU, among other projects. The Phoenix office has also worked on two projects through a joint venture established in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


RED AWARDS 2014: Best Public Project

On Feb. 26, AZRE hosted the 9th Annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2013 and the construction teams involved. AZRE held an open call for nominations and more than 100 projects were submitted by architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms in Arizona. Click here to view all 2014 RED Awards Winners.‎

McCord Hall
Owner: Arizona Board of Regents, for and on behalf of Arizona State University
Contractor: DPR Construction
Architect: RSP Architects
Design Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
Size: 128,000 SF
Location: 450 E. Lemon St., Tempe
Completed: June 24, 2013

ASU McCordThe W. P. Carey School of Business’ new state-of-the art facility, McCord Hall, is home to Arizona State University’s graduate, MBA and executive education programs. Consisting of instructional spaces, administrative offices, student and career services and social spaces, this monumental structure is designed to last a century on ASU’s Tempe campus. The structural slab and roof structure are a post-tensioned concrete that can be re-tensioned years from now to renew their strength. The building boasts numerous sustainable features, including a façade-specific shading system and a roof designed for a photovoltaic array that can provide electricity for buildings across the whole campus.

Old School O7, on the corner of 7th Street and Osborn Road, was a $2M adapative re-use and urban in-fill project by RSP Architects, Wetta Ventures and Chasse Building Tream. Phase I, which was completed 4Q 2013, includes the 1,700 SF Starbucks. Photo by James Neal

Making It New Again: Adaptive Re-use Trend Re-Energizes Community

A  church turned into a Taco Guild. An old automotive dealership and service station turned into a restaurant complex. A 60,000 SF building that once housed a television studio renovated to service a health center, theater, pharmacy and vitamin shop. To a city’s residents, a building finding a new purpose is a novelty. But to developers and architects in the Valley, it’s a trend that preserves the cityscape and — with the help of incentive programs and building code leniencies — is cost effective and time efficient.
Adaptive re-use of standing buildings has been a recent trend in the Valley, particularly Phoenix, which has been searching for sustainable solutions to add density to its core areas.
The City of Phoenix first piloted its adaptive re-use program in April 2008. The program became permanent six months later. Phoenix is the only city in the Valley with an established incentive program geared directly toward adaptive re-use development.
“There are a lot more people looking at existing buildings than looking to develop land,” says Jason Blakley, a program manager in Phoenix’s planning and development department. “There has been an increasing trend over the last few years, but I think things are starting to swing back toward new development.”

Building Incentives

The city continues to spread word to potential developers. Since implementing a financial incentive on July 1 to offset development costs, the city has received seven project applications and given away $13,000. The city has split projects into three tiers based on square footage. Incentives per project can reach up to $4,500.
Citywide advantages include revitalizing neighborhoods that haven’t seen much development or change over the last few years, Blakely says. He adds that scrapping a site and developing from scratch creates significantly more materials that will get carried off to a landfill. Adaptive re-use peripherally supports
green incentives.
“We’ve witnessed over the last decade more viability of existing building for projects,” says Diane Jacobs, a principal with Holly Street Studio Architects. Jacobs recently worked on the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, the aforementioned Channel 12 building, and the renovation of a 1930s era post office into a recreational space for Arizona State University students.
Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, soon to be Parsons Center for Health and Wellness, is set to officially open in November. It had limited resources and prioritized a central location in Phoenix to building from the ground up. It was unique, Jacobs says, because one half of the building was constructed in the 1950s and the rest in the 1970s.

Student Center at ASU Post Office.

Student Center at ASU Post Office.

“What we wanted to do was take a building split into different parts and pieces and give it an epicenter — a physical manifestation of what they’re trying to do with their organization,” Jacobs says. “They serve all walks of life and want to be a central place.”

Preserving history

“Adaptively re-used buildings come with their own history,” says Jacobs. “By history, I mean not just the story of who was there, but the physical archeology of what was there. It’s our job not to cover up the building, but let its best qualities be revealed. It reminds people there were other people in the building using it. When you have limited resources and you have your parameters set tighter for you, it helps you think about your priorities.”
Jacobs also recently worked on another adaptive re-use project for Arizona State University for which Holly Street helped turn a 1930s post office’s workroom into a student center near the Downtown campus.

Former Channel 12 building, now the Southwest HIV/AIDS Center.

Former Channel 12 building, now the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDs.

There are few absolutes regarding what makes a building ideal for adaptive re-use. Jacobs says buildings must have an open, flexible structure. If the program just doesn’t fit over the structural grid, she says, then the location won’t work.
Though City of Phoenix doesn’t know the exact number of eligible buildings within the city limits, any existing structure permitted before 2000 and measuring up to 100,000 SF is viable for adaptive re-use and will fall into one of the city’s three tiers of incentives.
“Projects with ambitious programs want to start fresh,” Jacobs says. “(Developers are) finally catching onto things architects have known all along (about older buildings). It’s a recent trend because of the economy and slowdown in growth. It made us understand we couldn’t keep up with this building and growing and moving out further, but to just look at the resources we already had.”

Urban movement

Little Cleo's at the Yard.

Little Cleo’s at the Yard.

In the last two years, RSP Architects’ Michael Rumpeltin has tackled two adaptive re-use projects — a Starbucks at Osborn Road and 7th Street, within a development known as Old School O7, and The Yard, the repurposed automotive and morotcycle repair shop mentioned earlier.
“I truly believe that there is a cultural shift going on in the Valley,” Rumpeltin says. “The city itself is maturing and we’re seeing a great deal more interest in urban places throughout Phoenix. In addition to repurposing these older buildings, or simply renovating and updating them, it is also important to be thoughtful about how you add to the existing building stock … I consider myself a steward of these buildings and my ability to help breathe new life into them ensures — at least for the immediate future — that they don’t disappear and instead remain a part of the urban fabric.”
One thing Jacobs and Rumpeltin agree on is the citywide benefit of adaptive re-use projects: it brings the community together.
“When we talk about repairing or infilling or rebuilding urban places, these kinds of social spaces are exactly what we need to bring people together and serve the community,” Rumpeltin says. “Unlike an office building or a private residence, these places are more public and because of that can be shared and enjoyed by more people within the community.”

Culinary Dropout at The Yard.

Culinary Dropout at The Yard.

Venue Projects and John Douglas Architects recently formed a partnership that is a prime example of such a space. Their project, The Newton at Camelback and 3rd Avenue, will house a Changing Hands Bookstore and The Lively Hood community workspace in the former Beef Eaters restaurant. The Newton, named for Beef Eaters founder Jay Newton, will be finished in spring 2014, with the mission to centralize community members.
RSP Architects, Rumpeltin says, begins a project by identifying the audience, researching the surrounding neighborhood and accounting for the building’s history and future before the design process begins.
“I can’t drive down the street without seeing a building that I start imagining a new restaurant in, or new shops or a boutique hotel,” says Rumpeltin, who keeps a journal of buildings throughout Arizona he’d like to revitalize. “As much as trying to match locations with developers and users, I like to be very involved in the creation of a project’s identity.”
Though he didn’t share specifics, he’s working on one such building that has been in his notebook for more than a decade. He says the project will open in a year.


The Yard Wins Arizona Restaurant Association Foodist Award For Outstanding Restaurant Concept


The Yard, a new restaurant complex located in a former motorcycle garage, has been recognized as Outstanding Restaurant Concept by the Arizona Restaurant Association with a Foodist Award.

Designed by RSP Architects, The Yard is a unique, 9,000 SF neighborhood dining and entertainment destination combining one-of-a-kind cuisine (Culinary Dropout and Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend) with games, such as shuffleboard and ping pong, in an inviting outdoor environment that allows guests to relax and have good old-fashioned fun.

“Creating a unique and authentic experience at The Yard that resonated with the client’s brand was of the utmost importance. With strong architectural design as a backdrop, the restaurant concepts had an opportunity to flourish, which they have,” said Michael Rumpeltin, design studio director and a senior associate at RSP Architects in Tempe.

RSP’s concept incorporated four key brand dimensions: maverick, unexpected, iconic, and authenticity into the design while paying homage to the history of the site. Once a Kawasaki motorcycle dealership, The Yard incorporates an expansive roof canopy and the original building as the context for design.

Iconic imagery of motorcycles is the basis for The Yard logo and signage and is used for the Culinary Dropout restaurant’s wall graphics. These themes infused the interiors with a rock and roll vibe featuring the motorcycles and guitars, as well as the playfulness and uniqueness of an 8,000 SF area containing lawn games, soft seating, and a landscaped courtyard that includes a recreational turf.

The desire was for The Yard to be a “third place” – somewhere for those who work and live in the North Central Phoenix neighborhood to go no matter the time of day to grab a bite to eat, to hang out with friends or to have a business meeting.

RSP Architects partnered with WDP Partners and Fox Restaurant Concepts in the design of The Yard.


Brossart Diane final 9314 5-29-12

Valley Forward Exands its horizon

Timing is everything, even when it comes to Mother Nature.

“In 2010, we got an $85,000 grant to look at some federal issues on sustainability,” says Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Valley Forward, which brings business and civic leaders together to improve the environment and livability of Valley communities. “We were asked to target Arizona’s Congressional delegation and get them up to speed in regards to understanding a sustainability agenda for Arizona and what that meant.”

What grew from that seed was an initiative that had actually been germinating for more than a decade, Brossart says: taking the successful Marocopa County-centric Valley Forward and giving is a statewide focus. In August, Valley Forward’s board voted unanimously to to move forward with a business plan that will transition Valley Forward into Arizona Forward in January.

Brossart says the state is facing some serious issues related to the environment and the livability and vitality of Arizona’s cities and towns will be impacted by upcoming decisions related to:
* Land use planning and open space,
* A balanced multi-modal transportation system,
* Improving and maintaining healthy air quality,
* Solar and renewable energy technology,
*  Managing our water resources, and
* Protecting wilderness, parks, national monuments and other natural areas for Arizona’s tourism economy.

“As Arizona and the country recover from the Great Recession, a statewide dialogue is more important than ever,” says William F. Allison, a shareholder at Gallagher & Kennedy. “The issues impacting us – water, energy, transportation, land use – involve the entire state rather than only the Valley. Arizona Forward will provide a forum to think outside the box and beyond the Valley.”

To get Arizona Forward to have its greatest statewide impact, Brossart and her staff connected with nine companies that had influence on communities along the Sun Corridor — the stretch of freeway that connects Tucson, Phoenix, Prescott and Flagstaff — to become charter members of Arizona Forward.

“The leaders of those companies have become our tour guides as we go into Pima County and Northern Arizona,” Brossart says. She points to Kurt Wadlington, employee-owner of Sundt Construction in Tucson, for opening doors for Arizona Forward to spread its wings into Southern Arizona.

“Southern Arizona already has a very strong environmental focus, but struggles with areas that are dependent on statewide engagement from both a funding and advocacy perspective,” Wadlington says. “(Valley Forward’s) shift (to a statewide focus) will provide Southern Arizona with added resources to coordinate its future growth in the larger context of the Sun Corridor.”

Experts agree that now is the perfect time for Valley Forward to shift to a statewide focus statewide because Arizona is at a turning point, economically and environmentally.

“There are major issues that affect the state like transportation; managing resources; and protecting the wilderness, parks, and national monuments,” says Alfie Gallegos, area sales manager for Republic Services. “These are not just environmental issues, but are issues that have an effect on Arizona’s economy statewide. I think Arizona is ready to start having more positive statewide conversations about finding ways to grow our economy in a manner that can be sustained and is environmentally friendly.”

Brossart says that while Arizona has had countless groups that have focused on making their communities better, Arizona Forward will be looking to help educate legislators become the glue that brings those regional organizations together in a spirit of cooperation and unity.

“So much of our goal is to drive a political agenda to the middle and bring folks on both sides of the aisle together,” Brossart says. “The issues that we focus on are sustainability and environmental. Everybody needs clean air, clean water, open space and parks. Those are the things that make a community viable, healthy and liveable. We all want that. Those aren’t political issues. But they do fall into a political arena that sometimes clouds the issues. But if we can be a reasoning voice of balance like we have been successfully in Maricopa County, if we can bring that statewide, it will be really good for Arizona — economically and environmentally.”

Valley Forward members expect the transition to Arizona Forward to foster additional collaboration and conversation on statewide issues, bring additional viewpoints on key issues and allow for a more global conversation.

“My hope is that we can, over time, have a collective vision that regardless of our own regional filters, we’re all in this together and need to find ways to move forward as one sustainable, economically successful state,” says Iain Hamp, community affairs representative, Wells Fargo Team Member Philanthropy Group.

Brossart says one of the biggest messages Arizona Forward will be trying to communicate is that making sound decisions about issues surrounding sustainability and the environment are good for business.

“If we make a case that shows the economic impact of parks and open space on the tourism industry, the business community will take notice and they are uniquely poised to deliver of that message and be heard,” Brossart says. “Parks groupies are great and they are important. But when the business community gets involved, people listen.”

Where Arizona Forward could have its biggest economic impact is on growth industries that rely on the state’s amazing natural resources.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of solar energy, as the clean, renewable energy source is experiencing massive growth and helping the state and country achieve greater energy independence,” says Patricia Browne, director of marketing and communications for SOLON Corporation in Tucson. “And Arizona has been at the center of this growth. This has been made possible not only by the companies developing the solutions, but by the state and local officials, Arizona-based businesses and individual residents who recognize the importance that solar plays in a number of ways such as a cleaner environment, economic development, and energy price stability. However, there are still challenges in making the adoption viable on a large scale, and Arizona Forward helps bring together the right players to help make this happen on a state level.”

Richard Mayol, communications and government relations director for Grand Canyon Trust in Flagstaff, says Arizona Forward will give members in northern Arizona the opportunity to not only have a voice in discussions that affect the state today, but in decisions that impact what Arizona will be like 20 years from now.

“We hope it will help create an economy that provides the opportunity for prosperity without sacrificing the environment,” he says, “and makes northern Arizona an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

And that is what Arizona Forward’s mission is all about: bringing business and civic leaders together in order to convene thoughtful public dialogue on statewide issues and to improve the environment and sustainability of Arizona.

“All areas of the state will benefit, from urban to rural and suburban areas in between due to a coordinated and planned strategy for such essential elements as affordable energy, water, transportation, affordable housing, and a wide band of employment opportunities,” says Janice Cervelli, dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona. “All geographic, economic, and environmental sectors of the state will increasingly become part of a larger, interdependent, connected system.”


* Establish cooperative relationships with like-minded Arizona conservation organizations and facilitate collaboration on sustainability initiatives.
* Bring business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues and to improve the environment and sustainability of Arizona.
* Increase awareness of and interest in environmental issues initially in the Sun Corridor and then beyond, statewide, building on an agenda of land use and open space planning, transportation, air quality, water, and energy.
* Support efforts to promote the Sun Corridor as an economic development area incorporating sustainability and smart growth principles.
* Serve as a technical resource on environmental issues through Arizona Forward’s and Valley Forward’s diverse membership of large corporations, small businesses, municipal governments, state agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations.

Arizona Community Foundation
First Solar
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
National Bank of Arizona
SOLON Corporation
Sundt Construction
The Nature Conservancy
Total Transit
Wells Fargo

FOUNDING MEMBERS: Access Geographic, LLC; Adolfson & Peterson Construction Company; APS; Arizona Conservation Partnership; Arizona Department of Transportation; Arizona Heritage Alliance; Arizona Investment Council; Arizona State Parks Foundation; Arizona State University, Global Institute of Sustainability; Aubudon Arizona; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona; Breckenridge Group Architects/Planners; Caliber Group; City of Tucson; Environmental Fund of Arizona; Fennemore Craig; Gabor Lorant Architects; Gammage & Burnham; Godec Randall & Associates; Grand Canyon Trust; Guided Therapy Systems; Haley & Aldrich; Intellectual Energy, LLC; John Douglas Architects; Jones Studio; Kinney Construction Services, Inc.; Lewis and Roca LLP; Logan Halperin Landscape Architecture; Pima County; RSP Architects; Southwest Gas Corporation; SRP; University of Phoenix; TEP / UNS Energy Corp.; The Greenleaf Group

Hospitality And Casino Construction Increase On Tribal Lands - Gila River Indian Community

Hospitality And Casino Construction Increase On Tribal Lands

The Gila River Indian Community is building two new hotels that total more than 200 rooms, a new, 70,000 SF casino, and a conference center. The Navajo Nation is building its first Arizona casino near Flagstaff.

“(Construction in Indian country) is actually one of the market sectors that is really thriving,” says Rogers Owers, an attorney with Andante Law Firm, whose speciality is construction laws in Indian country. “Whether it’s design, construction, or brokering the real estate deals, cash flows into the industry as a whole.”

In Tucson, a new 44,500 SF convention center and a 1,120-car parking structure opened at Casino del Sol in November. Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino increased its guest capacity to 300 rentable rooms, and renovated its restaurant in July.

As several Arizona tribes reveal major hospitality and casino construction projects, one thing is a sure bet — 2012 is shaping up to be another jackpot year.

The Arizona Department of Gaming reports that trial casino revenues steadily declined from 2008 to 2010, but returned to the green in 2011. During this period, hospitality and casino construction in Indian country slowed.

Talking Stick Resort, which opened its doors on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in 2010, was the last significant Native American casino and hospitality project in almost a year.

Today, several sizable construction projects in Indian country are underway or open for business. The largest, a multifaceted undertaking by the Gila River Indian Community, includes a new 90-room hotel and the demolition and remodel of Vee Quiva Casino in West Phoenix, plus a new conference center, 130-room hotel and restaurant at Lone Butte Casino in Chandler.

The Gila River Indian Community, going all in, also is reportedly opening a new hotel at Toka Sticks Golf Course in Mesa, which is a short distance from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

The construction venture at Vee Quiva is still in its developmental stages, according to Melody Hudson, public relations manager for Gila River Casinos. It is expected to open in the summer of 2013 at a cost of $135M.

“Rebuilding Vee Quiva Casino is part of a strategic plan the Gila River Indian Community has set in place to refresh our casinos while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Community and creating new job opportunities in Arizona,” says Anthony Villareal Sr., Casino Expansion Owners Team chairman.

After its reconstruction, Vee Quiva Casino will total nearly 175,000 SF — almost double its original size.

Further north, the Navajo Nation broke ground last March on Twin Arrows Casino outside of Flagstaff, its first casino in Arizona.

The 320,000 SF, $150M casino, scheduled to open in July, will include a hotel and conference center. General contractor is Hunt Construction and the architect is Friedmutter Group.

Some casinos, on the other hand, already have their cards on the table. Casino Del Sol and Harrah’s Ak-Chin opened their newly renovated facilities in 2011.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe renovated and expanded Casino Del Sol’s hotel and convention center in Tucson to the tune of $75M. The additions included 215 new rooms, a conference center, a parking structure and a spa. It is the second phase of the tribe’s ongoing hospitality and casino refurbishment project. McCarthy Building Companies served as GC and LEO A DALY was the architect.

McCarthy project manager Kurt Nyberg says construction went smoothly because the tribe first commissioned his company in 2003.

“What helped with this expansion is that the Casino Del Sol had gained building experience when both firms worked on the original casino project,” Nyberg says, “so the process was not entirely new from the owner’s perspective.”

Another big player in Arizona, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and Resort, finished its hotel and restaurant renovations in July after 11 months of construction. Lead designer Jason Ploszaj of RSP Architects says the construction was vital, because the “hotel was turning away guests nightly.”

The expansion, a $20M, 5-story hotel tower, doubled the number of rentable rooms at the Maricopa resort.

“In order to better serve guests, Harrah’s decided that after more than 10 years of success, and expansion of 152 new hotel rooms was necessary to refresh the hotel experience,” Ploszaj says.

For more information on casino and hospitality construction visit, ciic.construction.asu.edu


AZRE Magazine March/April 2012


2011 RED Awards Winners & Honorable Mentions

On Feb. 22, AZRE hosted the 6th Annual, 2011 RED Awards reception at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2010 and the construction teams involved. AZRE held an open call for nominations and more than 100 architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms participated in the process. All the winning projects and brokers are featured on the following pages.

View pictures from the 2011 RED Awards.
View the 2011 RED Awards candid shots as well.

2011 winners can order Awards, Plaques & Reprints

The project categories include:

  • Office
  • Industrial
  • Medical
  • Mixed-Use
  • Most Challenging
  • Hospitality
  • Multi-Family
  • Retail
  • Sustainable
  • Redevelopment
  • Public
  • Education
  • Tenant Improvement

  • Developer of the Year
  • Architect of the Year
  • General Contractor of the Year
  • Broker/Broker Team of the Year

Congratulations to all the 2011 RED Awards Winners

Best Hospitality Project, Small:


The Phoenician Ballroom Expansion

Best Hospitality Project, Large:


Talking Stick Resort

Best Industrial Project:


Keller Electrical

Honorable Mention:

Power-One (Phase I & II)

Best Medical Project:


Diamond Children’s Medical Center at UMC

Honorable Mention:

Ryan House at St. Joseph’s Medical Center

Best Mixed-Use Project:



Honorable Mention:

Gila River Indian Community, District One Service Center

Most Challenging Project:


Soleri Bridge & Plaza

Honorable Mention:

Maricopa County Security Building

Best Office Project:


Chandler City Hall

Honorable Mention:

Mercy Medical Commons

Best Multi-Family Project:


Vi at Silverstone

Honorable Mention:

Sagewood, Phase 1

Brokerage Team: Leasing


Tom Adelson, Kevin Calihan

Jim Fijan, Jerry Roberts

CB Richard Ellis

Brokerage Team: Sales


Tyler Anderson, Sean Cunningham

CB Richard Ellis

General Contractor of the Year:


Sundt Construction

Best Retail Project:


Mountain Ranch Marketplace

Honorable Mention:

Scottsdale Pavilions – Theater/Food Court Renovation

Most Sustainable Project:


White Tank Branch Library & Nature Center

Honorable Mention:

CREST Specialty School

Best Redevelopment Project:


Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

West Terminal Expansion Phase I

Honorable Mention:

Cowley Companies Warehouse Office

Best Public Project:


Musical Instrument Museum

Honorable Mention:

Randall McDaniel Sports Complex

Best Education Project:


Sedona-Oak Creek

Red Rock High School

Performing Arts Center

Honorable Mention:

Mesa Community College Red Mountain Campus

Best Tenant Improvement Project:


Lumberyard Tap Room

Honorable Mention:

Polsinelli Shughart

Special Merit:


Schuff Perini Climber

Broker – Leasing:


Andy Kroot

Velocity Retail Group

Broker – Sales:


Eric J. Wichterman

Cassidy Turley BRE Commercial

Developer of the Year:


RED Development

Architect of the Year:


RSP Architects

Presented by:

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Sponsored by:

D.P. Electric Logo
Weitz Logo
Clark Hill Logo

RED Awards Banner

Best Public Project 2011

Musical Instrument Museum

Best Public Project 2011: Musical Instrument MuseumDeveloper: Musical Instrument Museum
Ryan Companies US
RSP Architects
190,000 SF
4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix
April 2010

As the first global musical instrument museum, the 190,000 SF ground-up project houses more than 12,000 instruments and objects representing musical traditions. The museum’s modern massing and modest mix of simple forms and materials blend with the desert landscape. MIM includes a state-of-the-art, 299-seat theater. Much of the façade was constructed of sandstone imported from India. The lobby/atrium space, known as “El Rio,” is finished in Venetian plaster  and Italian porcelain tile. Sustainable features were integrated, including the use of fly ash in the concrete, 25,000 SF of photovoltaic solar panels on the second-story roof areas, a chemical-free chiller water system and extensive xeriscaping.

Honorable Mention: Randall McDaniel Sports Complex

Honorable Mention 2011: Randall McDaniel Sports Complex, SmithGroupDeveloper: City of Avondale
Sundt Construction
113,000 SF
755 N. 114 Ave., Avondale
October 2010

RED Awards Banner

Architect Of The Year 2011

RSP Architects

Winner of Best Public Project: Musical Instrument MuseumArchitect of the Year 2011: RSP Architects

Since 1978 RSP Architects has been creating spaces nationally and internationally. With offices in Phoenix, Minneapolis,  Rochester, Minn., China and India, RSP employs more than 200 people — and one penguin. The firm has worked with companies around the globe and has a diverse portfolio ranging from the spectacular Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale to work with the U.S. military.

RSP’s No. 1 goal is to provide excellent service to its clients. RSP not only designs the space, it understands the space. This can be seen in the corporate environments it creates where it makes the environment more productive, yet still comfortable; or in the museums it designs where it makes sure the acoustics are just right; even in the schools it creates with an environment to spark curiosity and inspire students to achieve.

RSP architects not only strive to make it’s building beautiful and useful, but also sustainable. The firm believes “sustainable design is inherent within any good, smart building design.” RSP is committed to the 2030 Challenge, which requires architecture firms to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment. RSP also has completed 12 LEED certified projects.

With more than 30 years of experience, RSP Architects has developed key criteria when working with a client. RSP believes stewardship, discipline and adaptability will create results.

RSP is committed to success.

Musical Instrument Museum, AZRE January/February 2010

Public: Musical Instrument Museum


Developer: Musical Instrument Museum
General contractor: Ryan Companies US Inc
Architect: RSP Architects
 SWC Tatum & Mayo Blvd., Phoenix
Size: 190,000 SF on 20 acres

The $135M, 2-story development will house more than 5,000 musical instruments from around the world. Construction began in Feb. 2008 and finishes this February. Subcontractors include Arizona State Utilities, ISS Grounds Control, Riggs Contracting, Progressive Concrete, Sun Valley Masonry, Walters & Wolf, Torrent Resources and WD Manor Mechanical Contractors.

AZRE January/February 2010