[Source: Jan Buchlolz, Phoenix Business Journal] — The changes under way on one key city block in downtown Phoenix are not obvious to the casual eye, but the Luhrs City Center is well into its transformation. In recent weeks, the Luhrs Building has been gutted in preparation for new tenants, including law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, which has committed to taking the 10th floor. The Seattle-based firm, which specializes in class actions, will move this summer from its space at the Esplanade, at 24th Street and Camelback Road. “The building gave us the opportunity to have a presence in a great historic building, but at the same time build a state-of-the-art law office from the ground up,” said Rob Carey, Phoenix managing partner.
The Luhrs Building, 11 W. Jefferson St., will include 80,000 square feet of office space when it’s completely restored. About 20,000 square feet of retail will be available at street level. Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona Inc. is marketing the office space. Phoenix Commercial Advisors is handling the retail leasing. Hansji Urban, a division of Hansji Hotels Inc. of Irvine, Calif., purchased the entire city block — bounded by Jefferson and Madison streets, and Central and First avenues — for $28 million in October 2007. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Arizona Republic] — The developer who bought downtown Phoenix’s iconic Luhrs Building and Luhrs Tower want to take a step toward building a hotel and other buildings south of the landmarks. On Wednesday, the City Council’s Downtown, Economy, and Aviation subcommittee will weigh whether the city should issue a request for proposals to develop the block. The area is bound by First Avenue and Central Avenue, and Jefferson and Madison streets.
Irvine, Calif.-based Hansji Hotels, Inc. already owns the property, but the city must issue a request for proposals if the developer wants to partner with the city to develop it, said Jason Harris deputy director of the city’s downtown development office. Hansji is already working with the city to preserve the two historic buildings. Hansji bought the block for $28 million in 2007.
The picture above of the Luhrs Block in downtown Phoenix is not a photograph, but a computer-generated model designed by Patrick Griffin, a 15-year-old living in Mesa, AZ. Patrick has created a whole slew of models of other major metro Phoenix buildings for use by Google Earth fans. To view more of Patrick’s work, click here.
[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — Staff from the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office and Development Services Department met with representatives from Hansji Hotels, the property owners of the Luhrs Block downtown, to discuss their site plan for a phase I and phase II project. Site plan approval for a phase II project, which includes build-out of the entire block other then protected areas, will require design review by the Historic Preservation Commission per the city development agreement with the property owners. The Commission’s review is tentatively scheduled for January 12, 2009.
[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — The City of Phoenix continues to coordinate with Hansji Urban, Ltd, the owners of the historic Luhrs complex on the south side of Jefferson Street between 1st and Central Avenues regarding their rehabilitation work.
The street-facing historic windows on floors 2 through 7 of the Luhrs Building have been temporarily removed, and are being restored off-site; they will be re-installed once the wood components are restored and new laminated glass and E-film are inserted into the original window sashes. The 1970s aluminum windows on floors 8 through 10 will be removed and replaced with replica historic dual pane aluminum windows which will closely resemble the historic wood windows. Staff of the Historic Preservation Office approved all of the window rehabilitation and replacement plans and work is now underway.
[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — The Phoenix City Council approved a proposal to re-negotiate the city’s existing development agreement for the historic Luhrs Block, located between Central and 1st Avenues and Jefferson and Madison Streets, and to provide up to $500,000 in Demonstration Project Funding for exterior rehabilitation work on the vacant Luhrs Building. The re-negotiated agreement will allow the demolition of a two-story building, but provide stronger protections for the north half of the block. The City is working on finalizing the development and grant agreements with the property owner.
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic, June 16, 2008] — Some homeowners get used to the nostalgia inspired by train whistles, but sleep-deprived hotel guests see things differently. At least that’s the worry of developers who want to silence nearly all train horns on a stretch of tracks on the southern end of downtown Phoenix. If they are successful, it would create Phoenix’s first railroad quiet zone. Phoenix joins several Arizona communities, including Flagstaff, Tempe, Gilbert, Sun City West, and Sun City Grand, that have grappled with train noise.
In Phoenix, the proposed quiet zone would impact Union Pacific trains that travel along Harrison Street between Third Avenue and Fourth Street. Several developers have plans to build hotels nearby. “Obviously, if people aren’t going to get a good night sleep, it’s going to cause people to complain,” said Dharmesh Patel, of Hansji Urban, which is affiliated with a California firm that has long-term plans to build a hotel near the historic Luhrs buildings downtown. “This is something that would concern any developer that’s building a hotel or selling a residential space.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — The City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) unanimously recommended approval of a plan to amend an existing 1993 historic preservation/ development agreement for the Luhrs Block downtown (bound by Jefferson and Madison Streets, and Central and 1st Avenues). This amendment would release the developer from an existing façade easement on the two-story 1914 Luhrs Central Building at 132 S. Central Avenue in exchange for a conservation easement for the 50-foot depth of the one-story 1929 Luhrs Arcade and 1924 Post Office Station located in between the two historic high rises on Jefferson Street.
The HPC also recommended up to $500,000 of Historic Preservation Bond funds to assist with restoration work on the historic Luhrs Building. The HPC requested documentation of the Luhrs Central Building prior to its demolition and that the owners pursue National Register of Historic Places listing on both the Luhrs Building and Tower. City Council action is slated on these items in early June.
[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — The City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office is close to reaching an agreement on a recommended course of action to amend an existing development agreement pertaining to this historic downtown block (between Jefferson and Madison, Central and 1st Avenue).
This agreement would address preservation requirements for the block and potential matching historic preservation bond funds for the Luhrs Building Office tower. The Historic Preservation Commission is slated to take action on this item April 28, 2008, with City Council action anticipated by the end of the fiscal year.
[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — An Irvine, Calif., developer will save the iconic Luhrs Building and Luhrs Tower, but the fate of other vintage buildings on the downtown Phoenix block is up in the air. Hansji Urban inherited a 1992 agreement from the previous owner that gives the firm the right to tear down some structures, including parts of the oldest building on the block, the Luhrs Central Building on Central Avenue and Madison, which was constructed between 1913 and 1914, said Barbara Stocklin, Phoenix’s historic preservation officer. The 1950s parking garage and the one-story 1920s arcade linking the Luhrs Tower and the Luhrs Building are also in question.
While many were relieved when they learned the Luhrs Tower and the Luhrs Building are to be restored, it’s been unclear what would happen to the rest of the structures on the block. There have been several historic preservation fights in downtown Phoenix recently. City officials and the developer are negotiating a plan for the area bound by Jefferson Street, Madison Street, Central Avenue, and First Avenue. The plan could go before the city’s historic preservation commission as early as March 17, Stocklin said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]