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A Potential Tenant for Vacant Cronkite Space in Downtown Phoenix

[Source: Caitlin Cruz, Downtown Devil]

Evie Carpenter/DD

ASU expects to finalize a lease with an undisclosed tenant who would occupy a vacant retail space in the southwest corner of the Walter Cronkite School building’s ground floor within a week, a university official said on Wednesday.

Negotiations have been in progress since November, and the potential tenant hopes to open his eatery during the spring 2011 semester, said Patrick Panetta, associate director at the University Real Estate Development Office.

Panetta did not disclose the identity of the potential tenant as the deal is not yet official, but he said one of the specifics preventing the completion of the agreement has been the inclusion of ASU’s Maroon and Gold Dollars program.

“We would like him to take M&G Dollars,” Panetta said. “That’s one of the finer points we’ve included in the lease.”’

Recently, downtown businesses have voiced concerns over the high fees associated with M&G, but many students still feel the M&G program has merit.

“These shops (around the Cronkite School) are convenient, and I would like it if they would use M&G, not just Sun Dollars,” said Aly Galt, a freshman kinesiology major.

The retail space, one of two currently vacant in the building, was occupied by Sbarro Italian Eatery until August 2010, and despite the equipment that is already in place for making pizza and similar foods, the potential tenant wants to execute a different restaurant concept, Panetta said.

Panetta said one possibility that has been considered is a salad and smoothie eatery.

However, he said, “that is not the main thrust of the project. There will be other facets.”

Kate Rosenberg, a graduate social work student, said she would welcome a salad and smoothie alternative. Rosenberg said she spends one day a week on the Downtown campus and eats at Subway.

“Only Subway,” she said. “Nothing else is good.”

According to Panetta, the tenant hopes to make a few changes to the equipment and layout of the space. Depending on how quickly the changes can be made, the new restaurant could be opened as soon as late March, Panetta said.

The potential tenant “wanted to get open this semester to announce to the ASU community that he was there,” Panetta said. “This is what he’ll be offering and will see everybody when they are back from summer.”

In addition to filling the spaces in the Cronkite building, the University Real Estate Development Office is responsible for finding tenants for the empty spots on Taylor Place’s ground floor.

“We’re still actively looking for tenants for all the spaces,” Panetta said. “There have been some tentative interest from some local restaurants, but it hasn’t gone very far yet.”

A relocation of Wells Fargo Bank, currently at the Arizona Center, is “potentially in the future” for an open-retail space in Taylor Place, Panetta said.

“They would have to approve the space,” Panetta said. “That is kind of why it isn’t a done deal yet — they haven’t agreed on anything yet.”

Contact the reporter at caitlin.cruz@asu.edu

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Downtown Phoenix 2.0?

[Source: Jon Talton, Rogue Columnist] — It’s surprising that some appear so sanguine about the likely foreclosure of most units at the 44 Monroe condo tower.  This, along with a similar fate for the Summit at Copper Square and 44’s developer Grace Communities failing to rehab the historic Valley National Bank building because of the Mortgages Ltd. fiasco, represents a devastating setback for luring private investment into downtown Phoenix.  Maybe people are too shell shocked to take it all in.  Maybe they’re willing to settle for things being better than they were 20 years ago, which is undeniably true.  Neither option is wise for those who wish the central city well.

Make no mistake: the Phoenix depression is metro-wide.  I saw rotting framing and miles of distressed subdivisions out in the exurbs.  Tempe foolishly threw away its opportunity to build a mid-rise boutique downtown of national quality — now it has an empty condo high-rise and Mill Avenue is swooning again.  But my conviction remains that there is no healthy major city without a strong urban downtown, and center city problems left unchecked have a habit of spreading.  (And don’t be taken in by the propaganda: Phoenix did have a vibrant downtown — it was killed by civic malpractice).

In Phoenix, the past few years have seen some notable triumphs: the beginnings of a downtown ASU campus, light rail, a convention center worthy of such a tourist-dependent city, a new convention hotel, and a blossoming of independently owned restaurants.  The biosciences campus has been planted (although it has been allowed to stall and, I fear, its future is uncertain).  Yet major private investment has not followed; 44 Monroe and the Summit represented the strongest chance for that within the existing local business model of “real estate first.”  The many towers proposed for the entire Central Corridor are now blighted empty lots.  CityScape?  I’ll believe it when I see it.  What I see is a homely suburban design, not the soaring “game changer” sold to the public on the front page of the newspaper.

The great recession, the great reset: Where will they leave downtown Phoenix and the Central Corridor?  It’s tough all over, now that a commercial real-estate crisis will follow the explosion of the residential and mortgage bubble.  Nationally, suburbs and exurbs are being hit harder than downtowns.  Suburban poverty is spreading.  The massive destruction of wealth and overhang of leverage make restarting the sprawl machine of old impossible.  Smart places, such as Denver, are trying to retrofit the suburbs for a higher energy future. Some suburbs themselves are working to provide walkable, mixed-use and even urbanish neighborhoods.

The headwinds in Phoenix are different.  Most people have blinkered suburban values — they can’t imagine a different life.  City Hall’s decisions to clear-cut hundreds of buildings and drive out businesses that catered to the working poor have left Phoenix without the bones that other cities have used to revive their cores.  The old headquarters companies were bought or dismembered and their successors often keep only token presences in downtown (imagine, for example, if Wells Fargo had built its operations center downtown instead of in Chandler).  And the limited economy leaves few non-real estate businesses anyway.  I could go on, but what can be done now, in the reset?  [Note: To read Jon’s recommendations, click on Downtown Phoenix 2.0?]

Downtown Phoenix’s CityScape to “top out,” despite shaky office space market

cityscape drawing-thumb-499x411[Source: Ray Stern, Phoenix New Times] — Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon will help celebrate the “topping out” of a new, city-subsidized office tower downtown this Thursday. With the state of the Valley’s office space market, though, we couldn’t help but wonder if the festivity will include a large, neon “Vacancy” sign for the roof.  Our suggestion elicits an honest chuckle from Jay Thorne, spokesman for the CityScape project.  “I can’t blame you for saying that,” says Thorne in a brief phone call this afternoon.

The building is scheduled to open in March.  Three months ago, it lost planned anchor tenant Wachovia Bank.  Office space vacancy is expected to reach 24 percent in the Valley this year, according to a June Associated Press article.  However, CityScape is doing way better than average in filling its 620,000 square feet of space, Thorne says.  “It’s pushing towards 70 percent leased,” he says.  “It’s a pretty nice success story.”

Of course, part of that success comes after last year’s downsizing of the whole project.  One thousand condo units and a hotel are among the plans that blew away with the dustbowl-like housing market. [Note: Read the full article at Downtown Phoenix’s CityScape to “top out,” despite shaky office space market]

CVS in, Wells Fargo out at downtown Phoenix CityScape

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — CVS Pharmacy will open a drugstore in downtown Phoenix’s CityScape complex, company officials will announce today.  It would be the first time since 1976 that a [open to the public] pharmacy stood in the downtown neighborhood south of Interstate 10 [note that Walgreens opened up a pharmacy in downtown Phoenix, but only available to Maricopa County employees].  The planned 13,000-square-foot drugstore could open as early as June 2010 on the northeastern corner of Jefferson Street and First Avenue, said Michael DeNitto, a CVS regional director.

The downtown drugstore would end three decades of frustration.   Many office workers, visitors and residents have had trouble finding a nearby place to buy medicine, greeting cards, or pantyhose.   For most, the nearest drugstore — a Walgreens at Seventh Street and McDowell Road — is more than a mile away…

In other developments at CityScape, Wells Fargo & Co. confirmed that it won’t occupy three floors of a CityScape office tower.   Wachovia committed to the space before Wells Fargo acquired the bank.   Wells Fargo is looking for a firm to sublease it, a bank spokeswoman said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.  To read the Phoenix Business Journal’s article on the Wells Fargo disclosure, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix CityScape project: then and now

Graphic from the December 17, 2008 Arizona Republic.  Click on the graphic for a better view.

Site plan of the CityScape block formerly occupied by Patriots Square Park, looking north.  Corresponds to #1, #2, and #3 in the Arizona Republic graphic above.  Click on the site plan for a better view.

Developers scale back $900M CityScape project in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Although a growing number of businesses plan to open in the downtown Phoenix project called CityScape, the worsening economy is forcing developers to scale back other parts of the three-block, $900 million plan.  Construction of more than 1,000 condos in the project, which straddles both sides of Central Avenue and First Street, between Washington and Jefferson streets, has been put on hold.

The downsizing from CityScape’s original plans, which were unveiled in 2007, is another sign that the deepening recession is taking a toll on a constellation of multimillion-dollar projects designed to bring jobs, shoppers, and residents into downtown Phoenix.  Plans for two 500-condominium buildings have been postponed until the housing market recovers.  Construction issues also prompted a developer to eliminate 65 planned apartments.  There are other changes, project officials say:

  • One planned hotel, Twelve, is no longer part of the project.  However, a 34-story tower, the future home of a 250-room Hotel Palomar and 165 condos, is under construction.
  • P.F. Chang’s has pulled out of the project but may open a restaurant later.  It will be replaced by a steakhouse from Fox Restaurant Concepts.
  • Wachovia, the anchor tenant in the project’s 27-story office tower, could withdraw.  Wells Fargo, which already has a downtown Phoenix high-rise, has plans to acquire the bank.
  • The list of tenants now includes a gym and a retail outlet, and developers hope to add a drugstore soon.

“The market is worse than it was three years ago,” said Keith Earnest, a vice president at RED Development, a CityScape developer.  “Hopefully, we are at the bottom…  We have a great location, and we continue to be optimistic.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.  To read one local blogger’s February 2007 and August 2008 prediction of CityScape’s scaling back, click here.]

Business Facilities magazine calls Phoenix “City of the Future”

[Source: Jenny Vickers, Business Facilities] — Strategically positioned in the Southwest, the Greater Phoenix area is one of 10 U.S. markets projected to experience 85% of the nation’s growth over the next 35 years.  Greater Phoenix, which consists of the City of Phoenix, much of the rest of Maricopa County, a large section of Pinal County, and small parts of southern Yavapai County, currently is the 13th largest area in the United States, with an estimated population of four million.  The City of Phoenix is the largest state capital in the U.S. in terms of population and is the only state capital with a population of more than one million.

With a labor force of over two million people, Greater Phoenix is known as a business and innovation hub with international access for aerospace, high-tech, bioscience, advanced business, and sustainable technologies companies.  Currently, over 20 major Fortune 500/1000 companies are located in Phoenix, such as Allied Waste, AT&T Inc., Bank of America, Boeing, Google, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo.  Honeywell’s Aerospace division is headquartered in Phoenix, and the valley hosts many of its avionics and mechanical facilities.  Intel has one of its largest sites in the city, employing about 10,000 employees.  Businesses are easily connected to the region, nation and the world with two major airports — Sky Harbor International Airport and Williams Gateway Airport — and a new light-rail system being launched in December 2008.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

On Nov. 15, volunteer for “A Day for Downtown Phoenix”

The ninth annual A Day for Downtown will mobilize more than 900 corporate and community citizens in a rewarding day of service to benefit the downtown Phoenix community.  Presented by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, HandsOn Greater Phoenix, and the Phoenix Community Alliance, A Day for Downtown revitalizes and beautifies the Phoenix downtown area neighborhoods.

Organizers and sponsors hope to showcase the needs of local organizations, schools, and neighborhoods to local businesses and community members; beautify and revitalize downtown sites and neighborhoods; strengthen community partnerships; and instill a renewed sense of pride in the downtown Phoenix area.

  • Date: Saturday, November 15, 2008
  • Time: Hands-On Community Service Projects: 8 a.m. to Noon; Lunch and Celebration: Noon to 3 p.m.
  • Place: Revitalization projects will take place in the downtown area defined by the following boundaries: Glendale Ave. to Baseline, 43rd Ave. to 44th St.

Platinum City Sponsors include: Accenture, One North Central, Wells Fargo, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Phoenix Community Alliance, and HandsOn Greater Phoenix.  To volunteer or for more information, call 602-973-2212 or visit the HandsOn Greater Phoenix website.

Suitors’ fight over Wachovia could affect downtown Phoenix’s CityScape

[Source: Jahna Berry and Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic] — Wachovia Corp.’s dueling suitors could have an impact on a $900 million downtown Phoenix development.  The bank was in talks with Citigroup, which agreed to acquire Wachovia in a deal valued at more than $2 billion.  Wells Fargo & Co. swooped in and announced a more lucrative, $15 billion merger agreement with Wachovia.  That fight could have a ripple effect on the three-block CityScape project rising in downtown Phoenix.  The development includes One East Washington, a 27-story office tower.  Wachovia was supposed to be the anchor tenant in 2010, and planned to lease three floors.

When the Citigroup deal was announced early last week, CityScape’s developers and Wachovia said that nothing has changed — for now.  “It’s too early for us to know how Arizona will be affected, but right now we’re open for business as usual,” said Aimee Worsley, a Wachovia spokeswoman in Los Angeles.  “There are no plans to change the commitment to CityScape, as of today.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]