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Jackson Street Entertainment District on shaky ground

Rendering of proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District

[Source: Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal] — A blockbuster plan to create a downtown Phoenix entertainment district is in jeopardy as the lender filed a notice of trustee sale on several of the properties involved.  At the same time, three major Valley high-rise condo projects are poised for major court dates that could dramatically affect their future viability.

ML Manager LLC, the company created to administer the loans of Mortgages Ltd. following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, filed a notice of trustee sale March 17 on several parcels that would have formed the core of the proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District.  The auction is scheduled for June 17.  SOJAC I LLC, headed by former co-owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dale Jensen, was the entity that borrowed $24.2 million from Mortgages Ltd. in February 2007 to purchase properties on Third, Fourth, Buchanan, and Lincoln streets.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Summit at Copper Square in downtown Phoenix hit with foreclosure notice

building_lg[Source: Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal] — The Summit at Copper Square condominium project across from Chase Field in downtown Phoenix is scheduled for an Oct. 14 foreclosure sale.  A notice of trustee sale on the 23-story luxury project was filed July 10 at the Maricopa County Recorder’s office by the public trustee, Fidelity National Title Insurance Co., according to information from Ion Data, a Mesa research firm.

The project was built by W Developments LLC.  The Chicago-based firm’s principal, David Wallach, was planning to build another high-rise downtown and was partnering with pro sports investor Dale Jensen and others to develop the Jackson Street Entertainment District when the housing markets collapsed. The Phoenix Business Journal was unable to reach Wallach for comment about the pending foreclosure sale and his plans in Phoenix.

David Newcombe, a broker with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty who specializes in urban luxury condo sales, said news of the foreclosure was unexpected. “You know, I’m really surprised at that,” Newcombe said. [Note: Read the full article at Summit at Copper Square in downtown Phoenix hit with foreclosure notice]

Downtown Phoenix businesses lobby for new light rail stops

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic, March 3, 2009] — When light-rail construction scared off scores of shoppers, many struggling downtown merchants considered the $1.4 billion line more of a curse than a blessing.  Light rail began running in December, and what a difference a few months has made.  Last week, several downtown business owners lobbied a transit agency to make sure that their shops would sit near a future light-rail route.  Metro appeared before an influential downtown business group to talk about plans for a light-rail span that would link West Phoenix, the state Capitol, and downtown in 2019.

Metro is weighing several possible routes on the west end of downtown Phoenix.  One option would put tracks on Jackson Street.  Another alternative would use Washington and Jefferson streets, Metro officials told the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.

  • Dale Jensen and David Wallach, two of the businessmen behind the proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District pushed for the Jackson Street option.  The city wants an entertainment district, and a Jackson Street light-rail route makes sense, Wallach said.
  • Bill Smith, who owns four downtown restaurants, including Stoudemire’s Downtown, argued for the Washington-Jefferson option.  All of his downtown restaurants sit near the Washington-Jefferson corridor.  “I have to disagree with my brother, Dale Jensen,” Smith said.

The banter was playful, but the stakes are high.  Metro recently announced that initial daily light-rail ridership was nearly 20 percent higher than expected.  About 30,000 boardings — one-way trips — are made each day.  If a business is located near the future light-rail line, those trains could bring thousands of potential customers.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix creates new logo, dumps Copper Square

[Source: Casey Newton and Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] —  A lime green ‘X’ marks the spot in a new marketing campaign designed to brand downtown Phoenix as a global destination.  A new logo for downtown shows the words “downtown Phoenix” at an angle, with a bold ‘X’ at the end breaking through an orange circle.  The Downtown Phoenix Partnership said the four-color logo will likely be accompanied by an all-purpose marketing slogan, “X marks the spot,” to promote downtown destinations.  “I think it’s brilliant,” said Dale Jensen, a general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks.   “There are a million things you can do with that X.”

The partnership and its consultant spent more than a year putting together a new logo for downtown, which will eventually replace “Copper Square” as the brand for downtown.   “It was driven by a realization that we were seeing a lot more opportunities downtown,” said Dave Roderique, president and CEO of the partnership.  “Things are changing very rapidly.”

The new logo was unveiled Monday at a meeting of the partnership’s board.  Later this year, the partnership will launch a full-scale marketing campaign.  “At first I didn’t like it, but I focused on the ‘X’ which made me pay attention to it,” said MaryAnn Guerra, president of TGen Accelerators.  “X marks the spot for anything you want to do.”   [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Mortgages Ltd. altered deal to benefit downtown Phoenix project

[jackson.jpg][Source: Andrew Johnson, Arizona Republic] — Investors’ rights have been a long-standing issue in the bankruptcy of Phoenix-based Mortgages Ltd. Former Managing Director Robert Furst testified in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Coles made the decision to alter an investors agreement to give Mortgages Ltd. more flexibility to bring in new investors as first lien holders ahead of existing investors.

Furst said he worked for Mortgages Ltd. from October 2005 to March 2008, when he quit.  He testified unexpectedly on a proposed loan extension Mortgages Ltd. was offering local real-estate developer Dale Jensen.  Jensen’s firm, SOJAC I LLC, has an approximately $24 million loan with Mortgages Ltd. for the development of a proposed entertainment district on Jackson Street in downtown Phoenix.  Furst said he wanted more information about Jensen’s finances before a judge approved the extension.

Jensen was current on interest payments but the loan principal came due in late September.  Because of turmoil in the credit markets, he likely wouldn’t be able to secure financing to pay off the balance, said his attorney, Don Gaffney.  SOJAC wanted to have the loan-maturity date extended a year.  Judge Randolph Haines ultimately approved the extension, calling it a reasonable deal.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Jackson St. Entertainment District tax breaks inching forward

[Source: MSN Money, June 26, 2008] — New tax incentives for solar energy companies are moving forward at the Arizona Legislature.  Arizona House of Representatives committees Thursday moved forward a bill (HB 2872) that offers income and property tax breaks for solar firms locating in the state.  Solar tax credits are also part of a multi-pronged economic package (SB 1433) advocated by State Rep. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, that also includes an expanded research and development tax credit, tax breaks for development of new restaurants, offices, and retail next to Chase Field, and tourism and restaurant taxes in Tucson to pay for Cactus League baseball facilities.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council is a prime backer of the solar incentives, arguing Arizona needs them to compete with Oregon, California, New Mexico, and Texas for jobs.  GPEC has been urging business leaders and companies to lobby Gov. Janet Napolitano and the Legislature on behalf of the solar incentives.  Skeptics, including the conservative Arizona Free Enterprise Club, do not like tax breaks carved out for individual sectors or companies, preferring more across-the-board tax cuts.

Intel Corp., the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and Arizona Technology Council are main pushers of the expanded research and development tax credit.  The downtown Phoenix development tax breaks are geared towards developer and Arizona Diamondbacks co-owner Dale Jensen.

Jackson St. entertainment district lobbies for state help

[Source: Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic, June 21, 2008] — Recent long-running legislative sessions have featured months of budget bickering between the GOP-led Legislature and the Democratic governor and at least one big last-minute deal.  This year’s eleventh-hour proposal is the jobs-stimulus package, a plan to boost the state’s economy through tax breaks for developers, help for spring-training baseball in Tucson, and tax credits for solar manufacturing, research and development.

The idea — to energize the state’s sagging economy by generating jobs, primarily in construction — surfaced this week after Rep. Michele Reagan, R-Scottsdale, convened lawmakers and lobbyists…  Here’s a rundown on the four components:

Urban Development.  The impetus for this is a downtown Phoenix entertainment district proposed by developers Dale Jensen and Brad Yonover.  They need the Legislature to waive four construction-related sales taxes — two collected by the state, two by the city — to give them a break on construction costs.  Yanover told lawmakers the plan includes a 380-room Fairmont hotel (a boutique hotel from the Marriott Hotels line), a 2,500-seat House of Blues, high-end restaurants, and other amenities.  But Reagan interrupted his presentation to make it clear that the package would not apply just to downtown Phoenix but also to other districts that meet certain criteria.  The construction-related taxes would be returned to the developers for 10 years.

House Speaker Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, made a special appearance this week to urge lawmakers to take a risk to launch the project.  “This doesn’t cost the taxpayers one cent,” Weiers said.  “It does have the potential for creating tens of thousands of jobs.”  The argument for such tax-abatement projects is that none would be built without the tax waiver.  And with the waiver, a project could proceed and generate new taxes for the city and state.

The proposal, pitched by lobbyists Mike Williams and Kevin DeMenna, caught at least one Phoenix official by surprise.  “My personal feeling is, if they want to include the city in this, maybe we could have a conversation if we can afford to do this,” said Phoenix City Councilman Claude Mattox.  Others see the still-emerging plan as special-interest legislation.  “The urban-development project just smacks of handouts to developers,” said Michael Crowe, chairman of the leadership council of the local branch of the National Federation of Independent Business.  “It just looks like a money grab…”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.  Related Phoenix Business Journal article here.]

2005 event touts Sun Merc as site of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…and museum

[Source: America West Arena website, January 24, 2005] — Ask any fan.  America West Arena has always been rockin’.  And now comes the rollin’.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is going “On Tour” and the first stop is at the corner of Jackson and 3rd Streets next door to AWA.  Currently housing the Phoenix Suns Athletic Club, the Sun Mercantile Building will be transformed into a mini-rock museum by early 2005.  The concept is intended to offer audiences outside of Ohio a chance to experience special exhibits and collections similar to those featured in the Cleveland-based Hall of Fame. “We are the first,” Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo said.  “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has expanded and we’re happy to represent them on the West Coast.”

It’s only fitting that the 75-year-old brick warehouse, a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will soon house some of rock and roll’s most historic artifacts.  While the official list of arriving music goodies is still TBA, when you’re talking about a museum that’s got everything from Jimi Hendrix’s 1965 Fender Stratocaster and Prince’s Purple Rain coat to handwritten lyrics to Beatles’ songs, you know some good memorabilia will be en route to the Valley.  “We haven’t figured out specifically what we’re going to bring here,” said Jim Henke, Chief Curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  “But it’s not about autographed guitars.  It’s the real costumes people wore on stage, the guitars they played, their handwritten lyrics, artifacts like that.  We’re going to have a standing exhibit that will deal with the history of rock and roll, but then what we really want to do is bring down these specialty exhibits that we’ve done over the years.”

Some of those past exhibits included displays on John Lennon, the Supremes, U2, the psychedelic era and Elvis Presley.  Henke promises “exhibits that are really huge and in-depth,” just like what’s back in Cleveland.  While the exhibits will change periodically like any museum’s collection, this isn’t a temporary memorabilia road show.  The full conversion of the two-floor, 28,000 square-foot building is proof of that.  And don’t consider this the start of a trend in terms of the museum officially expanding outside of Cleveland.  As Terry Stewart, President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, puts it, the biggest stumbling block in the past was finding partners who understood the museum’s mission statement and why it exists in the first place… to educate people on the music genre’s origins, development, legends, and cultural impact.  “We wanted a place to have our special artifacts, take it to an area and expose it to more folks,” Stewart said.  “Jerry’s people understood that we had to have a first-class building that’s secure and one that has all the environmental protection, one where we feel comfortable and it feels just like being back in Cleveland.  We found that in Mr. Colangelo and his people here.”

Located right off the Bud Light Paseo, “On Tour” should see a great deal of foot traffic once doors officially open early next year.  In addition to having Bank One Ballpark and the Dodge Theatre right around the corner, AWA’s expansion should be finished by then, complete with a new retail setup adjacent to the new museum.  “I’m excited to get to the finish line,” Colangelo added.  “When the building is remodeled and the Hall of Fame is up and running and our retail is in place, it should be fascinating.”

In a town that’s hosted countless music legends over the years like Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and B.B. King, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s “On Tour” facility fits in perfectly with the tradition and growth of downtown Phoenix. “It illustrates we’re just not in the basketball or baseball business,” Colangelo said. “It’s the entertainment business and it’s all encompassing. We hold major events here, all types of entertainment and music. This is just a perfect condition, because it enhances the experience for our consumers and it will be a major traffic builder for those who might be coming downtown for the first time or those who’ll start frequenting downtown more often.”

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame slated for Sun Merc

[Source: UPI] — The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum plans to open a new satellite facility in Arizona early next year, the Arizona Republic said Wednesday.  We are going to bring in special exhibits, said Jim Henke, chief curator of the original museum in Cleveland.  We are going to give people a reason to return.  Henke and other representatives from the Hall of Fame, America West Arena, and Phoenix City Hall officially unveiled plans for the sister museum Tuesday.

Organizers declined to specify what would be housed in the historic Sun Mercantile Building, but they hope to attract at least 100,000 visitors a year by constantly changing exhibits and attracting children, the newspaper said.  The new rock museum will be located next to the America West Arena, where the Phoenix Suns Athletic Club is now located.  The health club will close June 30.  The Cleveland museum is home to costumes worn by Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Madonna, David Bowie, and Bono, along with personal effects and instruments of rock stars.