Daily Archives: April 21, 2011

Phoenix officials fail to close deal on Circles building

[Source: Emily Gersema, The Arizona Republic]

The easy-to-spot Circles building on Central Avenue originally was a Studebaker dealership. (Emily Gersema/The Arizona Republic)

Phoenix officials have crossed off the landmark Circles Discs & Tapes building from the list of possible new headquarters for the Arizona Opera because the building’s owners have failed to respond to the city’s requests for further testing on the site.

The downtown midcentury-design building, easily recognizable with its large curved windows, sits on a property that has underground tanks that probably stored fuel when the property was a car dealership, said Jane Morris, acting executive assistant to City Manager David Cavazos.

“When we did the environmental study, no one knew that there were tanks there,” Morris said. During a site visit in January, “we saw a vendor pumping stuff out of the tanks.”

She said city staff asked to do environmental testing on the tanks after seeing that. But the property owners, Leonard and Angela Singer, have not responded to the city’s request, prompting the city staff to search for another possible site for the opera’s offices.

The Singers could not be reached for comment.

“It is not known at this time if the Circles building could be back as an option,” Morris said.

The city has been trying to help the Arizona Opera staff find a new headquarters since 2006, when officials had promised the non-profit opera company the city would pay up to $3.2 million in voter-approved bonds to buy, renovate and lease a building to the opera.

Arizona Opera’s current offices are at 4600 N. 12th St. in Phoenix and 350 N. Mountain Ave. in Tucson.

Organization leaders have said they want to save money by consolidating the offices to operate in one location.

Circles Discs & Tapes history

• 1947: The midcentury-design building was constructed. Designed by architect W.Z. Smith, the building housed Stewart Motor Co. The car dealership was owned and operated by businessmen and brothers Jack and Spencer Stewart. The men sold Studebakers. Passers-by could always see one spinning slowly on a turntable.

• 1972: Angela and Leonard Singer bought the building and opened Circles Discs & Tapes. The store became a hot spot for music lovers.

• 2005: The Singers considered but then rejected applying for historic status to preserve the building. The Phoenix Historic Preservation Office worked out an agreement with the Singers: The city would create a historic-preservation-overlay zone for the property on condition that the Singers would give the city the first right to buy the property if it was put on the market.

• 2010: The Singers closed the store. Internet music purchases had surged, bumping record stores such as Circles out of business.

Source: Phoenix Historic Preservation Office, Arizona Republic archives

Phoenix School of Law moving into new downtown Phoenix digs

[Source: Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal]

The former headquarters of Freeport McMoRan Gold & Copper Inc., the One North Central tower in downtown Phoenix, will be filled by PhoenixLaw, also known as the Phoenix School of Law.

The former headquarters of Freeport McMoRan Gold & Copper Inc., the One North Central tower in downtown Phoenix, will be filled by PhoenixLaw, also known as the Phoenix School of Law.

The college will take eight floors of the 20-story tower or 205,130 square feet. The school is moving from its current location at 4041 N. Central Ave.

“It’s an interesting use that will be a great benefit to downtown,” said Phil Breidenbach, senior vice president of Colliers International in Phoenix.

Breidenbach represented the landlord, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Estate New York, along with team members Peter Neiman andLindsey Carlson.

Breidenbach said the move, which is expected by the fall, will bring “a bunch of students,” to downtown, but he could not give specifics.

The Phoenix Business Journal put in a call to PhoenixLaw President Scott Thompson, but he was traveling and unavailable for comment.

Freeport McMoRan, which moved to Central Park East at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren Street last year, still had an active lease on its space at 1 North Central Ave. Breidenbach said Colliers didn’t intend to market the property until that lease expired.

“But we were approached by a lot of people in the marketplace,” he said.

The overture by PhoenixLaw appealed to the landlord and negotiations commenced.

Breidenbach said he expects tenant improvements to be extensive.

“They’ll transform corporate headquarters into education facilities. That will be significant,” he said.

Breidenbach could not say how much those will cost.

“It’s all in process right now,” he said. “There’s a host of activity going on