Affordable housing in Tempe has been an issue for quite some time. Every other day it seems like a new luxury apartment development with a lazy river is being built on a prime piece of real estate somewhere downtown.

With residents voicing serious pushback and Tempe officials still being split on the decision to approve yet another luxury housing complex, the college town finds itself with a new opportunity to expand affordable housing options in Tempe.  Mayor Corey Woods has made housing affordability it a priority. 

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Tempe city leaders recently purchased the Apache Pollack Center for $10.7 million, a purchase that includes the acquisition of the Food City grocery store on Apache Boulevard that recently went out of business, forcing residents to use other, more expensive stores further away.

“When a lot of these commercial properties go up for sale in the city of Tempe, the land values are very high,” Woods says. “They are quickly purchased by individuals with a lot of money to spend. And if they’re spending a lot of money on the land they usually want to put in something very high-end.”

But Woods says Tempe has a very different vision for this property. Redevelopment plans call for creating new affordable and workforce housing opportunities.

With the purchase of this property, the city of Tempe now has the opportunity to build over 300 housing units on the property above the proposed grocery store.

“Our hope is to get a grocer back in that spot so that those neighborhoods can have a grocery store where they can get fresh produce,” Woods says.

Residents located in this area now have to walk well over a mile to reach the nearest grocery store, a trivial conflict to some and a crucial conflict to others.

According to, the average price to rent jumped 32% in the past year to $1,741. The city of Tempe has become a hotbed of activity, but one question still remains: will the city of Tempe be able to keep up with the astronomically high demand for affordable housing?

“People say they think the government moves slowly, but frankly, not the city of Tempe government. When we are dealing with something that is a real true priority, we try to move with all deliberate speed to get it done,” Woods says.