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Downtown Phoenix DREAMRs chosen

[Source: Phoenix Business Journal] — The Downtown Phoenix Partnership will honor six downtown champions with its annual DREAMR awards Feb. 1.   Honorees are for the Downtown Revitalization Effort Awards of Merit and Recognition are:

  • Project/Program Award, Freeport-McMoRan Center, formerly One Central Park East, developed by Mesirow Financial
  • Private Sector Individual Award, Mike Ratner, owner, Tom’s Tavern
  • Public Sector Individual Award, Don Keuth, president, Phoenix Community Alliance
  • Outstanding Organization Award, two-time WNBA champions, Phoenix Mercury
  • Unsung Hero Award, recently retired city of Phoenix manager, Frank Fairbanks
  • Visionary Award, Outgoing DPP Board Chair and Bryan Cave attorney Neil Irwin

The 16th Annual DREAMR Awards luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center with an expo of products and services from central city merchants.  For more information, call 602-254-8696 or visit DPP’s website [Note: To read the full article, visit Downtown Phoenix DREAMRs chosen.]

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.]

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.]