Monthly Archives: December 2009

Viewpoint: Does downtown Phoenix not want business?

[Source: Life in Downtown Phoenix blog] — If downtown Phoenix is to emerge as a premier national downtown, it needs to do things better than other places.  And if Fiancee-of-Downtown-resident and my experience is any indication, downtown still has a ways to go in some respects. 

Fiancee-of-Downtown-resident and I are smack dab in the middle of wedding planning (which also helps explain the lack of attention I’ve given the blog).  Being downtown boosters and all, we really liked the idea of having our reception somewhere around downtown.  We contacted two city-run downtown facilities, both of which advertise in wedding publications as sites to hold receptions.  We absolutely loved one of them, an historic building that could have been the site for a unique and unforgettable wedding reception and possibly ceremony.  We toured the place, met with the relevant city representatives, and were probably going to book the event until… they stopped calling us back.

Seriously?  In this economy?  A city starving for revenue is too busy to call a customer back?  (A customer willing to spend several thousand dollars, no less.)

Our experience at the other downtown facility was not much different.  We called the wedding coordinator there and this time we did receive a response… about eight weeks later.  By that time we had already moved on to plan B.  We love the spot we picked in the Camelback Corridor, but it’s tough thinking about what could have been downtown

Looming vacancies will leave downtown Phoenix high-rise half-empty

[Source: Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal] — Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s decision to vacate one of downtown Phoenix’s high-rises in the middle of an economic recession will leave a prominent building with a significant hole to fill.  As city and downtown officials herald the deal to combine the mining giant’s corporate headquarters with a Westin hotel in the new One Central Park East building, the potential loser is Mitsubishi Estate New York Inc., which purchased One North Central in March 2008 for $127 million.

With Freeport-McMoRan vacating 185,000 square feet and another major tenant, Ryan Cos., vacating about 20,000 square feet, Mi­tsu­bishi will be faced with 50 percent vacancy — and the challenge of filling the space in a very difficult real estate market.  Ryan, which developed One North Central in part as a build-to-suit for Phelps Dodge Corp. in 2000, is moving into a new building it will finish soon at 3900 E. Camelback Road.  Phelps Dodge merged with Freeport in 2007, creating a much larger mining company.

Colliers International in Phoenix is the leasing agent and representative for the 410,000-square-foot One North Central, but could not get permission from Mitsubishi to discuss that company’s plans to fill the space.  According to research firm CoStar, the building currently is 97 percent leased — but that will drop to 50 percent within six to seven months, when Freeport and Ryan vacate.  “I don’t think the folks who bought One North Central knew what they were getting into.  No question, One North Central will face difficulties,” said Tyler Wilson, senior associate with Grubb & Ellis/BRE Commercial LLC in Phoenix.

Andrew Cheney, a Phoenix broker with Lee & Associates, is more optimistic. “Mitsubishi will feel pain in the short term, but has the staying power to re-lease it at recessionary lease rates,” he said. [Note: To read the full article, visit Looming vacancies will leave downtown Phoenix high-rise half-empty.]

CenPhoTV for the week of 12-18-2009

This week on cenphotv, more tax breaks for another hotel, some fairy tales and cautionary tales, were-chickens, supreme court judges, a call for food, a party at the civic space, and all the best live music in the valley this week.

Polsinelli Shughart takes 45,000 SF at downtown Phoenix’s CityScape

[Source: Emily Baker, CoStar Group] — Polsinelli Shughart PC signed a 10-year lease deal for 45,000 square feet at the CityScape building in Phoenix. The law firm is taking occupancy of the 17th and 18th floors in June of 2010. It is the fifth law firm to sign on with CityScape.  This 27-story office tower building is located at 1 E. Washington St. in downtown Phoenix.  Currently under construction, the building is due to deliver in March 2010.

Jerry Roberts, Corey Hawley, and Jim Fijan of CB Richard Ellis represented the landlord, RED Development.  [Note: To read the full article, visit Polsinelli Shughart takes 45,000 SF at downtown Phoenix’s CityScape.]

Two major downtown Phoenix developments get go-ahead from city council

[Source: Lynn Ducey and Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal] — Two new hotel brands now call Downtown Phoenix home, after Phoenix City Council approved separate development deals paving the way for the properties. Council members OK’d one deal One Central Park East that includes plans for a 280-room Westin hotel and corporate headquarters for Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., and another that rebrands the existing 520-room Wyndham hotel as a Marriott Renaissance.   “We are very happy. Christmas has come early,” said Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.  “We now will have the power of the Marriott brand in downtown Phoenix and the Westin gives our downtown Sheraton guests an opportunity to upgrade.”

Council members unanimously approved a development agreement known as a Government Property Lease Excise Tax, or GPLET, incentive program for the One Central Park East project.  The Westin hotel would be a tenant inside the newly constructed building, which also would house Freeport’s headquarters.  They also voted 6-2 in favor of a development deal with Phoenix Hotel Ventures LLC, which would result in the rebranding of the Wyndham into a Marriott Renaissance.  Vice Mayor Tom Simplot and Councilman Michael Nowakowski voted against the proposal.

Simplot said the difference for him was that the Westin project was a modification of an existing GPLET that led to the construction of One Central Park East, which is built out, yet unoccupied.  In contrast, the Wyndham is an existing property.   “Councilman Nowakowski and I agree philosophically.  Personally, I believe GPLETS should be used sparingly for projects that simply aren’t viable without them,” Simplot said after the meeting Wednesday.

Council members voted unanimously in favor of the One Central Park East Project.  Proponents said the projects would create and retain additional jobs, create a future revenue stream for bed and sales taxes across the city, county and state levels and keep Phoenix on a competitive par for group meeting and bookings at the Phoenix Convention Center with similar-sized cities, such as Denver and San Diego.

In addition, the Wyndham project will result in $10 million in property upgrades and access to Marriott’s branding power while the Westin is an upscale business class hotel.  The Wyndham rebranding is expected to take place within the first part of next year. Construction of the Westin build-out is expected to begin shortly, with the first guests expected to begin checking into the property in 2011. [Note: To read the full article, visit Two major downtown Phoenix developments get go-ahead from city council.]

Future light rail extensions to Glendale in study phase

[Source: EV Living] — Glendale is home to two professional sports franchises, an Air Force base, and more than a few casinos, but not the Metro Light Rail.  Valley Metro introduced the light rail in December, 2008, with a 20-mile route extending from Mesa through Tempe, and into Phoenix.

The light rail is the first of its kind in the Valley.  Although effective in transporting Arizona State University students between campuses, fans to downtown Phoenix sports complexes, and commuters going to work, the rest of the Valley has yet to feel its impact.  But Valley Metro has future extension plans in the works.

According to, they plan to extend further into north Phoenix, further east into Mesa, and west to Glendale between 2012 and 2030.  The Valley Metro board is already beginning to enter into a study phase of five different routes to the Glendale area, Metro Light Rail Public Information Officer Hillary Foose said.

Some of the proposed routes include one to historic downtown Glendale, one west along Interstate 10 and north on Loop 101, and one going along Glendale Avenue, Foose said.  Initial plans were to have the extension go directly to downtown, however after some uproar they decided to look into other options.  “Plans are still very preliminary at this point,” she said.   [Note: To read the full article, visit Future light rail extensions to Glendale in study phase.]

Regents OK $187M expansion for downtown Phoenix medical school

[Source: Angela Gonzales, Phoenix Business Journal] — The Arizona Board of Regents has endorsed a $187 million expansion for the University of Arizona College of Medicine — Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University.  At its recent meeting in Tucson, the board approved plans to build a 268,000-square-foot health sciences education building and other improvements on the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus.  This will allow the medical school to train more physicians and strengthen the presence of the UA College of Pharmacy and other health-related colleges on the campus.

While it has been endorsed by the regents, UA must wait for a review by the Joint Committee on Capital Review before ground can be broken.  The expansion plan has been approved twice by the Arizona Legislature and signed by the governor, but still must be reviewed by the committee.  The committee is scheduled to reconvene after the first of the year.  [Note: To read the full article, visit Regents OK $187M expansion for downtown Phoenix medical school.]

Phoenix mayor asks feds for millions of dollars to help city

[Source: ABC News 15] — Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon is looking for federal dollars.  The mayor is in Washington pressing the Obama Administration and Congress for millions of dollars to help the city build sewers, bridges, schools, and other capital projects.

Gordon said he will pitch projects costing between $2 million and $300 million.  He wants the money for 20 to 30 years with payments deferred for the first ten years.  If Phoenix fails to pay it back, Gordon said the city will forgo future federal funding.  Gordon reasons if the federal government can bail out banks and the auto industry, why not U.S. cities?  [Note: To read the full article, visit Phoenix mayor asks feds for millions of dollars to help city.]

Downtown Phoenix trolley route map

Convention & visitors bureau produces new downtown Phoenix video

In this video produced by the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, view snippets of downtown Phoenix museums, Convention Center, light rail system, hotels, monthly events like First Fridays, restaurants, theatres, shopping, Chase Field, and U.S. Airways Arena.