Ushering in a new era for downtown Tempe, an exciting development for residents, businesses, and surrounding companies within close proximity to ASU, Novus Innovation Corridor broke ground for its next phase in September this year with big plans ahead.

ASU and Catellus are working with Aspen Heights to build a six-story, 262-unit luxury apartment community, and Ryan Companies will develop a Class A, six-story, 162,000-square-foot multi-tenant office building at the corner of University Drive and Rural Road in the Novus Innovation Corridor.

Novus Innovation Corridor is currently going through site improvements, utility location, and new infrastructure installation. The first office building and residential community are slated for December/January land closings, and are anticipating breaking ground in the first quarter 2019, says Charley Freericks, senior vice president of Catellus Development Corporation and master developer of Novus Innovation Corridor.

The Corridor will be on the newly-created Novus Place, a North-South street that will run from University up to Rio Salado, and will have an apartment community, an office building with retail space on the ground floor, and additional future developments including a hotel, which is going to be the center of the social aspect of Novus, says Morgan Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer, Arizona State University.

“This development means we’re going to be able to pay for the investments we’re making in our intercollegiate athletics facilities,” Olsen says. “We realized that wasn’t enough so we’re going to reinvent that end of the campus and downtown Tempe to a significant extent, bringing substantial economic development potential to the Valley.”

The Novus Innovation Corridor plans at the northwest corner of University and Rural are just the beginning of Phase 3. Phase 1 was Marina Heights, with 2.1 million square feet in five buildings, about 8,000 employees and one of the regional hubs for State Farm. Phase 2 is the reinvented Sun Devil Stadium.

After Phase 3, the development will then move north and east, taking over what is now ASU athletic facilities along the west side of Rural Road, as well as the ASU football practice facility and the Karsten Golf Course east of Rural. New tennis and track and field facilities will be built in the planned ASU Athletics Village, which will be located east of Farrington Stadium (ASU’s softball complex) and ASU’s soccer stadium. The football practice facilities will be moved to the northeast side of Sun Devil Stadium.

“We have a master development plan for Novus that reflects where we anticipate all of the assets to be created as part of this location. We have a lot of flexibility — we have over 300 acres of land in a relatively urban area, so it’s a very unusual opportunity,” Olsen says. “We’re going to relocate our intercollegiate athletic facilities as we move along ahead of developments in Novus because that’s our reason for being… we have a master development plan for our athletic facilities that’s integrated with the master development plan for Novus.”

The development will stretch east along Rio Salado Parkway all the way to McClintock Dr. All told, the Novus Innovation Corridor will occupy 330 acres and be made up of five distinctive neighborhoods with approximately 3,700 residences as well as more than 4 million square feet of office and retail space. The plan is for a mix of low-, mid- and high-rise office buildings, along with residential, retail and hospitality buildings throughout.

Freericks is confident the development will have a positive economic impact given the significant influx of employment in Tempe over the next decade in various higher wage and cutting edge industries.

“We hope to attract a vibrant workforce that results in a thriving economy around it, whether that’s shopping, dining, or living,” Freericks says. “I am expecting to see a robust economic impact from taking land that currently is basically fallow from the perspective of generating revenue — other than sporting events — and creating a sustainable, vibrant new economy in Tempe,”

Novus Place will contribute to that thriving economy. Freericks envisions Novus Place as a more professional environment complementing Mill Avenue for lunch, dinner, after work and special events.

“What happens in these planned environments is thoughtful, high-quality architecture and controls create value, and property owners in those environments — whether they’re residential, office, or retail — tend to enjoy more stable values throughout economic cycles. So we’re creating a thriving location,” Freericks says.

Education and employment come together, which aligns with the focus of Novus Innovation Corridor to complete the cycle between commerce and industry and ASU, Freericks says.

“I’m most excited to see the types of tenants we are aiming for — companies which will benefit from a great relationship with ASU,” Freericks says.

For example, the tenants could be a small but rapidly-growing company that ASU can help to grow or train a workforce, Freericks says, or a company with many interns and keep their people engaged in the community.

“Or a tenant could be very research intensive, and you’ve got one of the largest research universities in the country at ASU,” says Freericks. “We want to attract and celebrate all those kinds of relationships with ASU. We also know there will be interest from potential tenants that need to tap into the talent among the wealth of seasoned professionals that already live in the Valley.”

Olsen says downtown Tempe is becoming the 2nd urban center in the Valley and the land people see from Mill Ave. to the east at one time was owned by ASU; some of which was sold and became Hayden Ferry Lakeside, and their current model is not selling land, but doing long-term projects.

“And that allows us to have more control over what happens and that’s important to us because that’s our own backyard, but also we think it will be positive for us economically,” Olsen says. “President Crow likes to talk about us being a knowledge enterprise and our knowledge assets are our faculty, staff and students with their brainpower and the opportunity to be next to that is what attracted State Farm and it’s going to attract other companies that want to locate in that type of intellectual environment.

“We’re in a global, knowledge-based economy today and it’s all about what you know and what you do with it. We think we’re providing the opportunity for that type of synergy at Novus.”

Novus Innovation Corridor by the numbers

• 350-acre master-planned, mixed-use urban street front development

• At completion will encompass more than 10 million square feet of mixed-use opportunities

• Six-story, 262-unit luxury apartment community with 27,000 square feet of ground-floor restaurant and retail space

• Six-story, 162,000-square-foot multi-tenant office building

• 670 rooms of planned hotel within Novus Innovation Corridor boundaries

• 300,000 square feet of planned retail within Novus Innovation Corridor boundaries