It’s fitting that a new building that rises above the site of a former Studebaker dealership could be considered the big brother of the next generation of downtown Phoenix high-rises.

The Stewart has already welcomed its first residents and the general contractor UEB was putting the finishing touches on the property as Aspirant Development hosted a grand opening and building dedication party Wednesday evening.

The $80 million, 19-story apartment project sits on the corner of Central Ave. and McKinley St. on the site of the former Circles Discs and Tapes building, which was previously Stewart Motor Co., a Studebaker dealership that dates back to 1947. The former Circles building is currently being renovated and reborn as Snooze, an A.M. Eatery that will open in the Fall.

The Stewart residential team, Avenue 5 Residential, pays homage to the site’s past in some unique ways. Each of the 24 floor plans at The Stewart have a name of a famous musician. A Petty is a tidy 477 square foot studio apartment, while the Nicks is a spacious 1,638 square foot, two-bedroom corner unit with a large deck that looks out to the southeast. There are floor plans named Harrison, Otis, Clapton, Mercury and Zappa, just to name a few. All told, there are 47 floor plan varieties in the complex.

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Work on Snooze will continue for the next few months and the space will feature some of the original architectural features. Aspirant Development Partner Randy Grudzinski also noted that the rotating sign tower that rises above the Circles building will be restored and spinning by early 2020.

Grudzinski said that 25 leases have already been signed for the complex and he expects a steady influx of new residents. 

Some of the features of The Stewart are an 8th floor amenities deck, with a large fitness room and an outdoor deck with fire pits, grill areas and corn hole court. On the 18th floor is a clubhouse lounge complete with two large-screen TVs, a wine storage locker, pool table and kitchen. The lounge has floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking the highest pool in Phoenix. The pool and hot tub deck give guests a scenic view of downtown Phoenix.

Tile floors are standard in all of the units, as are LG appliances and each unit has an outdoor deck. The apartments also feature exposed concrete ceilings and walls. All of the common space design and apartment staging was done by Tempe-based Lawrence Lake Interiors.

More high-rises coming to Downtown

Grudzinski says that The Stewart can stake its claim as the tallest apartment building constructed in the Valley, but it won’t have that title for too long. It is just the first of several high-rise projects in various stages of development in downtown Phoenix. The LINK Phx Phase 1 will be the next multifamily project to be completed when it wraps up construction this summer. The LINK, located at N. 3rd St. and McKinley, is 30 stories with 252 units and it’s developer, CA Ventures, has plans for two more towers. Phase 2 will be a 25-story, 204-unit building and Phase 3 will be 19 stories and 156 units. After The LINK, Block 23 will be next to open up. The 16-story, RED Development project at 1st St. and Jefferson will finish up this summer, bringing 200,000 square feet of office space and 305 rental units to the market, as well as a 67,000 square foot Fry’s Food Store in Downtown.

The latest project to get started is the 23-story X Social Communities project on Van Buren St. between 2nd and 3rd avenues.

X Social Communities is a brand under the Property Markets Group umbrella. X Social Communities feature smaller living spaces and co-living spaces, to give young professionals a chance to live in a downtown market at an affordable price.

“In a lot of major markets, the people that should be able to afford to live in major metropolitan areas, New York, Miami, D.C., Boston, where ever, they’re getting priced out,” said Ryan Shear, Principal for Property Markets Group. “These are people who are well-paid people, but the market has risen at a faster pace than wages. So there are a couple solutions. One is building smaller spaces. Micro living has spread throughout the country. Another is solution is co-living where you have a roommate and you’re able to build smaller spots.”

The Phoenix project will feature 553 units, with many set aside for short-term rentals. Shear said that what the resident loses in space, they more than make up for in amenities and services.

“A lot of people who live in our buildings, we interview them constantly and ask, ‘Do you feel like you’re giving anything up?’ and most people say, ‘No, we love it, it’s great. It’s crazy, it’s social, it’s everything I thought it could be,’ “ says Shear. “Our biggest amenity is price. It’s built so people can live where they want to live and that’s our advantage.”

Shear, who is a Miami native and has worked on several of PMG’s projects in his hometown, said downtown Phoenix reminded him a lot of downtown Miami and he feels that now is a perfect time for X Social Communities to be moving into the market.

“It’s got a great feeling now,” says Shear. “I don’t think we could’ve been here 10 years ago. No differently than we couldn’t have been in downtown Miami 10 years ago.

“There’s just a lot going on, a lot of developers that are looking downtown. You’ve got ASU’s expansion, UofA’s expansion. For us, we think its the perfect timing. When we deliver, there’s just going to be that much more going on. and we’ll be part of the wave.”

Less than two blocks from X Social Communities is Kenect, a 23-story, 320 unit multifamily unit developed by Akara Partners that is slated to be completed in 2020. UEB is also the general contractor on this project, located at 355 N. Central Ave., across the street from another planned high-rise, the Central Station redevelopment.

The Phoenix City Council gave final approval for the $231 million, 1.1 million square foot Central Station project, which will transform a busy bus and light rail terminal into two high rises. One 30-story tower will feature an 150-key hotel and 300 multifamily units, while a second, 18-story tower will be for 217 student housing units to serve the ever-growing Arizona State University presence in downtown.

Another high-profile project is expected to start later this summer. Hines is developing the 25-story Residence at Collier Center on the northwest corner of 3rd St. and Jefferson, less than a block from Block 23. The project will feature 379 condominium units and street level retail and restaurant space. 

Also in the planning stages is a 17-story, mixed use project at 3rd Ave. and Fillmore. Aspire Fillmore is planned to have 250 residential units in one tower, with future plans calling for a second tower.