Ted Simons: The Tempe City Council recently denied an application for a residential project at Tempe Town Lake. Such denials are not unusual and often deal with height and density concerns. But this time the concern was that the proposed development lacked the desired height and density for lakeside projects. Here now is Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.
Ted Simons: Before we get into details, where exactly is this piece of land?
Mark Mitchell: It's on the South side of Tempe Town Lake between Rural and McClintock. In the middle of Rural and McClintock on the south side of the lake.
Ted Simons: So, it's not at the intersection of Rio Salado and Rural, a little bit east of that section? Across from the golf course?
Mark Mitchell: Correct.
Ted Simons: Is that golf course sticking around for a while? What’s going on with that thing?
Mark Mitchell: I think it is, for a little bit.
Ted Simons: Now we’re taking a look at the parcel map and there on the left is Rural Road, kind of halfway back there. Now, the development application was denied because it wasn't dense enough?
Mark Mitchell: It didn't fit the vision of what the council was looking for. It was a good quality developer and a good project but not what we were looking for in this particular location. This is Tempe Town Lake and Marina Heights regarding State Farm and the development there, we're looking for more of a mixed use type of development, a little more density than just residential apartments.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about this particular development. How high, how dense was this project?
Mark Mitchell: It was a three-story high building, basically, you know, stick construction. We were looking for a little more mixed use; retail, a hotel component all in that particular area.
Ted Simons: And again, I think we have a shot there of what looks like some of the artists' renderings here. Sounds like there was a 350-some-odd unit complex, you're looking for more than that, huh?
Mark Mitchell: There's a bigger vision for that area. Not only the land they were looking at, but also other parcels of land working with ASU. There's going to be over 330 acres in and around there we're looking at to make sure they fit in the design. It just didn't fit with the overall vision we have as a council.
Ted Simons: Is there an overall height and density requirement?
Mark Mitchell: No, but it didn't have some of the right uses. There was no office or retail or commercial mixed space in that project being proposed. It didn't fit what we were looking for in the long term.
Ted Simons: Again, it's not just the fact that there were three or four stories, but it wasn’t what other projects are or planned to be?
Mark Mitchell: We were looking for a little more density. Doesn't necessarily have to be the height, but good mix of retail and office space to make it work, as opposed to just residential.
Ted Simons: How far along in the process was this project?
Mark Mitchell: It was far long in the process, but we were looking at -- they had to do an amended agreement with us, and what was proposed there was a hotel, mixed use and rental. But they were just proposing a rental, and it didn't really fit in the overall scheme.
Ted Simons: They amended the original proposal?
Mark Mitchell: They tried to. They knew what we wanted there and they have seen other -- just because we have a vision, they didn't really hit what we were trying to accomplish.
Ted Simons: Sounds like what they were saying is the market dynamics don't call for that kind of thing right now.Valid argument?
Mark Mitchell: Just a little west of there we have the largest office building ever built at one time, $600 million project, two million square feet, very artistically done. Also Hayden ferry lake with the third tower. A lot is happening in and around that area.
Ted Simons: As far as other substantive plans for the area, are there plans b, c, d?
Mark Mitchell: There are some.
Ted Simons: Who owns that land, how does that work?
Mark Mitchell: Some of the city land, we own it and we do an RFP out for it.
Ted Simons: That land is city owned?
Mark Mitchell: That land is not city owned. It's a different private company that we're trying to sell it. We own the land just south of it and a little to the east and to the west. We own the land that encapsulates that piece of land.
Ted Simons: That means you’re the one with the RFP then?
Mark Mitchell: We have an RFP on the south side with a bigger vision, but we were trying to work with that particular developer to plan it with our land. It didn't fit the vision of the overall council so we didn't move forward with the amended PAD.
Ted Simons: So whoever owns the land, are they coming back with the plans b, c, d?
Mark Mitchell: They are.
Ted Simons: Is there like a 17-story senior housing development ready to go or under consideration over there?
Mark Mitchell: Yes, there is. It's just to the west of there. It's going to be -- fit a great need. We're a very diverse community. We're not just a college town, a young professional town, but we cater to all different age groups. This is just a good fit for the area to have a good mixed use, different times of diversity within that are.
Ted Simons: When is the dirt going to move on that one?
Mark Mitchell: We're waiting to hear from the developers. The plans have been submitted and it's approved, we're just waiting to break ground. I'm assuming when ASU -- they just picked the developer for the stadium district and we have people responding, as well.
Ted Simons: When is this happening, 2015, 2016?
Mark Mitchell: It could be.
Ted Simons: Okay. Now that I've got you here, this USA basketball big deal of Mellon University, where does that stand? Right now there's just an empty Chili’s sitting there.
Mark Mitchell: There is. We have a great relationship with ASU. There's a lot of moving parts. I know ASU basketball and the OMNI group had a meeting in Las Vegas last week. There are good things coming out of that, they had their annual meeting in Las Vegas. We know they are moving forward and working well with ASU.
Ted Simons: Lots of plans, lots of things, even in that area where we're talking about, the Rio Salado and Rural. Everything from hotels to piers, something-or-others going for a million dollars, a billion dollars. We hear about them and then they float away. Are these going to float away, too?
Mark Mitchell: No. We have State Farm, Hayden Ferry Lakeside building tower three, the University Hub on Veterans Way and College, they are breaking down on their tower. We have Oliver McMillan -- excuse me, the Hanover project in downtown Tempe. We just reopened AMC Movie Theaters, a good renovated space. We have other developer planning happening in and around the downtown. We have a whole bunch of stuff happening in the southern part of our city, as well. It's very exciting to see. All the investment we've done over the years is starting to pay off. We're attracting developers so we can continue to grow so our residents can expect the quality of life they expect and enjoy.
Ted Simons: What kind of developments in the southern parts?
Mark Mitchell: The southern parts, it's going to be the global technology for GoDaddy, the Arizona State Research Park. Phenomenal project, a 200,000 square foot building, it’s going to house the technology side. Other developments happening in and around, State Farm is putting in a building there, as well. They are putting another footprint down South. They are continuing to track good high-tech companies in the southern part of our city. It's starting to pay off.
Ted Simons: Last question before you go, the streetcar, where does that stand now?
Mark Mitchell: The council selected a route on the streetcar which goes from basically where the Marina Heights project is -- we call it the C route. It goes from Rio Salado, Mill Avenue to Apache, close to probably McCallister. The goal is to get to Dorsey, but it depends on funding from our partners in Washington.
Ted Simons: It comes down Mill Avenue, does a little loop de loop in the downtown area, and hits Rio Salado and goes east --
Mark Mitchell: We hope Marina Heights, where State Farm is.
Ted Simons: Any plans of taking it to Tempe Marketplace?
Mark Mitchell: We would love to connect the Streetcar to Wrigley West. You would hit all the interest points from Wrigley West to Tempe marketplace, to the stadium district, to Marina Heights, to Hayden Ferry then come back down South and hit all of the Mill Avenue stops and points of interest, then go by the potential USA place, and moving citizens in and around the downtown area.
Ted Simons: If you're going to develop at the lakeside, bring it big or don't bring it at all.
Mark Mitchell: We want good quality that helps with the vision we're looking for.
Ted Simons: Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
Mark Mitchell: Thank you.