Tempe faces groundbreaking developments, bringing ‘quality life amenities’ for residents

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Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell elaborates on the upcoming developments happening in the city, including a $150 million investment into Tempe Town Lake.

The “Center of the Valley,” as Mitchell calls the city, has already been a popular area for decades. It’s home to the main Arizona State University campus and has become a technological hub during the last few years. However, it’s been missing some of the common life necessities – namely, a grocery store.

Opening sometime late this year or early next year will be a 41,000-square-foot Whole Foods located on University Drive and Ash Avenue. It will be part of a nine-story building that will also hold nearly 300 apartment units.

The north side of the Town Lake will soon be home to the 620,000-square-foot Watermark Project. The $150 million investment will go toward apartment complexes, a 250 room hotel and 64,000-square-feet worth of commercial businesses.

A “true example of a redevelopment project” according to the mayor will come to Baseline Road and McClintock Drive. The area will be reconstructed to host an AMC Theatres, Alamo Draft House and new restaurant concepts.

“Our competition is not Chandler, Peoria, Phoenix,” says Mitchell. “Our competition really is the Denvers of the world… We have created, as I mentioned earlier, the quality life amenities that residents look for.”

TED SIMONS: AN APPARENT BUILDING BOOM GOING ON IN TEMPE THIS AS THE DOWNTOWN AREA BOASTS FALLING VACANCY RATES AND SOME OF THE FASTEST RISING RENTAL RATES IN THE COUNTRY. THE MAYOR MARK MITCHELL IS HERE TO TALK ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON IN HIS CITY. WELCOME BACK TO ARIZONA HORIZON.

MARK MITCHELL: WELCOME, THANK YOU TED.
TED SIMONS: HIGHEST ABSORBSTION RATES FOR TECH REAL ESTATE, HIGHEST RENT INCREASES AS FAR AS REAL ESTATE-TECH REAL ESTATE- WHAT IS GOING ON DOWN THERE?

MARK MITCHELL: WELL, YOU KNOW, IT IS VERY EXCITING. I MEAN HAVING GROWN UP IN TEMPE MY ENTIRE LIFE AND NOW HAVING THE HONOR TO SERVE AS MAYOR. YOU KNOW WE HAVE BEEN PLANNING FOR THIS GROWTH FOR DECADES. MAKING SURE WE HAD THE PROPER INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE, ALL THE PARK AMENITIES THAT WE HAVE IN AND THROUGHOUT OUR CITY, MAKING SURE THAT WE ARE TRULY A MULTI-MODAL COMMUNITY THAT REALLY ATTRACTS RESIDENTS. YOU KNOW, WE’RE A CITY- AN INNOVATIVE CITY AND PEOPLE WANT TO BE AROUND EXCITING TIMES AND EXCITING EVENTS THAT HAPPEN AND I THINK THAT CONTRIBUTES TO A LOT OF IT.

TED SIMONS: AND YET MOST CITIES WILL SAY THAT. THAT’S A NICE, YOU KNOW, CITY COUCIL KIND OF A TALK THERE. BUT WHY IS IT HAPPENING NOW THERE?

MARK MITCHELL: AS I MENTIONED, WE HAVE BEEN PREPARING THIS FOR DECADES. IT IS IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE PROPER INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE AND REALLY PROVIDE THAT QUALITY OF LIFE THAT OUR RESIDENTS EXPECT AND ENJOY. HAVING BUSINESSES THAT WANT TO COME HERE BECAUSE OF THE MAGNET WE HAVE, YOU KNOW, WE ARE AN INNOVATIVE FORWARD THINKING COMMUNITY. WE’RE HOME TO ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY WHICH IS THE NUMBER ONE UNIVERSITY FOR-INNOVATIVE UNIVERSITY IN THE COUNTRY RIGHT IN OUR BACKYARD. HAVING THAT MIX WITH THE VIBERANCY OF TEMPE AND EVERYTHING THAT IS HAPPENING AT THE CENTER OF THE VALLEY, SURROUNDED BY FIVE FREEWAYS AND TRULY MULTI-MODAL TRANSPORTATION, REALLY ADDS TO THAT CHARACTER.

TED SIMONS: YOU KNOW, AS INNOVATIVE AS EVERYTHING IS THERE. YOU DIDN’T HAVE A GROCERY STORE DOWNTOWN FOR A LONG TIME. STILL WAITING ON ONE. BUT YOU HAVE THE WHOLE FOODS, WHATS GOING ON WHOLE FOODS THERE?

MARK MITCHELL: SO WE HAVE THE WHOLE FOODS 365 CONCEPT COMING TO WHERE THE OLD CO-OP USE TO BE ON MILL.

TED SIMONS: GENERAL STRENGTH CO-OP

MARK MITCHELL: GENERAL STRENGTH CO-OP. ON ASH AND UNIVERSITY. IT’S AN EXCITING NEW PROJECT FOR WHOLE FOODS. IT’S GOT ABOUT 280 UNITS ABOVE. IT IS TRULY URBAN. IT IS CALLED THE LOCAL. IT GOING TO BE FANTASTIC FOR OUR RESIDENTS. YOU HAVE DOORS ON THE SIDEWALK. VERY INVITING.
TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT AND WHEN ARE WE GOING TO START BUYING PRODUCE OVER THERE?

MARK MITCHELL: WELL, HOPEFULLY I THINK BY '18, MAYBE CLOSER TO '19?

TED SIMONS: OKAY, LATE THIS YEAR, EARLY NEXT YEAR?

MARK MITCHELL: CORRECT

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, WATER MARK PROJECT NORTH SIDE OF TOWN LAKE. IS THAT WHAT WERE TALKING ABOUT HERE?

MARK MITCHELL: IT IS. IT’S IN NORTH SIDE OF TOWN LAKE. THOSE WHO REMEMBER THE OLD SUN DEVIL CLUB RIO THAT IS WHERE THAT IS HAPPENING. IT IS REALLY EXCITING TO SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING THERE AS WELL. THE WATER MARK IS GOING TO BE ABOUT 2800 SQUARE FOOT OF OFFICE SPACE, ABOUT 250 ROOM HOTEL AND WE WILL HAVE OVER 64,000 SQUARE FEET OF COMMERCIAL SPACE. MORE IMPORTANTLY IT IS ABOUT $150 MILLION INVESTMENT IN TEMPE TOWN LAKE WHICH IS REALLY GOING TO ADD TO THE ASSESSMENT DISTRICT FOR THE LAKE WHICH HELPS COVER OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE.

TED SIMONS: AND THAT IS ON THE NORTH SIDE. DID DEVELOPMENT SO FAR ON THE SOUTH SIDE. DOES THAT SPUR ACTION ON THE OTHER SIDE?

MARK MITCHELL: ABSOLUTELY. AS A KID GROWING UP IN TEMPE WITH WHAT USE TO BE A DRY RIVER BED. NOW WE HAVE OVER- WITH THE INVESTMENT OF THE RIO SALADO PROJECT, MARINA HEIGHTS, HAYDEN FERRY LAKE SIDE, THE WATER MARK, AND WHAT WE WERE GOING TO LOOK AT PIER 2. ALSO FURTHER DOWN EAST OF THE RIVER-TEMPE TOWN LAKE- WHICH IS CALLED THE RIO2100. IT IS REALLY EXCITING TO SEE EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENING. WE HAVE ABOUT 40,000 PEOPLE THAT LIVE AND WORK AROUND THERE AND CLOSE TO $2 BILLION OF ECONOMIC IMPACT INVESTMENT.

TED SIMONS: AND THAT IS DOWNTOWN, OBVIOUSLY THE LAKE FRONT AREA. LET'S MOVE A LITTLE BIT SOUTH TO MCCLINTOCK- BASELINE AND MCCLINTOCK. THAT USED TO BE A MASSIVE MALL. THE LAKE VILLAGE-THE COUNTRY VILLAGE- WHATEVER THEY USE TO CALLED IT. RIGHT ACROSS FROM THE LAKE. HUGE MALL. THEN IT BECAME A HUGE GHOST TOWN. I MEAN THIS IS THE WAY IT USED TO BE BACK IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS. THEN THE GOOD OLD DAYS CAME AND WENT. BUT NOW YOU HAVE SOME GOOD NEW DAYS. WHAT’S GOING ON DOWN THERE?
MARK MITCHELL: WELL, YOU KNOW AS I THINK YOU SEE IN THE VIDEO. WE HAVE THE OLD JC PENNY STORE AND THE AMC PICK 6 THEATER. THEY HAD STAR SHIP FANTASY. NOW WE’RE REPLACING THE AMC WITH THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE WHICH IS REALLY EXCITING. WE HAVE NEW RESTURANT CONCEPTS THERE. I MEAN THAT WAS A HUB WHEN I WAS A KID THERE. BACK THEN WE HAD A VDR GAME PLACE CALLED FANTASY- YOU KNOW THOSE DON’T EXIST ANYMORE. BUT IT IS KIND OF EXCITING TO SEE EVERYTHING THAT’S COMING IN THAT AREA. IT IS A TRUE EXAMPLE OF REDEVELOPING PROJECT.

TED SIMONS: THAT IS A HUGE PROPERTY TOO AND THAT’S A LOT OF LAND.

MARK MITCHELL: IT IS. IT IS REALLY EXCITED.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, WE DON’T HAVE ANY SHOTS OF THIS, BUT I KEEP HEARING ABOUT A SENIOR LIVING FACILITY, WHERE THE CHILI’S IS AND BACK WHERE THE MALL USE TO BE.

MARK MITCHELL: THE OLD GROCERY STORE USE TO BE.

TED SIMONS: WHERE THE OLD GROCERY STORE USE TO BE. YEAH, WHAT’S THIS DEAL ABOUT THIS SENIOR LIVING-

MARK MITCHELL: IT’S A SENIOR LIVING SPACE THAT ACTUALLY ASU IS DOING ALL ON THEIR OWN. YOU ARE SEEING THIS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WITH UNIVERSITIES WHERE THEY ARE HAVING HOUSING FOR SENIOR FACULTY MEMBERS. BUT ALSO THE SENIOR THAT CAN ACT AS AN ADJUNCT PROFESSOR AND SO FORTH. IT IS REALLY EXCITING. ITS CALLED MONTEBELLO I BELIEVE. IT’S AN EXCITING PROJECT. AND RIGHT NEXT TO IT, HOPEFULLY IN THE NEAR FUTURE- NEAR NEAR FUTURE, WE WILL HAVE A HOTEL CONFERENCE CENTER.
TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THAT SENIOR THING- GROUND HASN'T BEEN BROKEN ON THAT?

MARK MITCHELL: IT HAS NOT BEEN BROKEN YET BUT IT HAS BEEN APPROVED AND MOVING FORWARD.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, BEFORE YOU GO. WE DIDN'T GET A CHANCE TO MENTION THIS WITH THE OTHER MAYORS BEACSUE IT’S SOMETHING THE STATE LEGISLATURE WORKED ON. BUT THEY DID TALK ABOUT THIS A LITTLE BIT- THE IDEA OF LAWMAKERS SEEING SOMETHING SOMEWHERE AND TELLING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO GO LOOK AT IT. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IS LOOKING AT A COUPLE DEVELOPMENTS INCLUDING THE GRADUATE HOTEL, THE OLD HOTEL THERE ALONG APACHE BOULEVARD AND ANOTHER PROPERTY. REGARDING THESE GOVERNMENT PROPERTY LEASE EXCISES TAX. WHAT ARE THOSE AND WHY IS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL LOOKING INTO THE CITY'S ACTIVITIES?

MARK MITCHELL: WELL, LET ME SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON THAT. THE CITY OF TEMPE HAS RESPONSIBLY AND SELECTIVELY, AND LEGALLY USED INCENTIVES FOR DEVELOPMENT FOR OUR COMMUNITY TO REALLY BENEFIT OUR RESIDENTS IN THE SURROUNDING AREAS FOR TEMPE. WITH THAT BEING SAID, WE ARE IN A PROCESS AS YOU MENTIONED THERE IS A CASE THAT HAS BEEN FILED, BUT WE FOLLOW THE LAW LEGALLY AS WE’RE SUPPOSE TO BY STATE STATUE AND DOR HAS APPROVED ONE OF THE CASES THAT THEIR LOOKING AT AND THE OTHER ONE HASN’T EVEN BEEN EXERCISED YET. WE FEEL VERY CONFIDENT THAT WE SELECTIVELY AND LEGALLY HAVE USED THE OPPORTUNITIES WE HAVE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

TED SIMONS: BUT THE LAWMAKER WHO FILED THE COMPLAINT WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE HAS TO STOP EVERYTHING AND HAS TO INVESTIGATE THIS. HE IS SAYING THE LEASES INVOLVED WILL HAVE TO BE CANCELED AND THEIR GOING TO HAVE TO BE RESIGNED UNDER NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR THESE G PLUTTS.

MARK MITCHELL: WELL, WE’VE ISSUED A STATEMENT ON THIS ISSUE. AS I STATED EARLIER, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE REALLY SELECTIVELY LEGALLLY USED THE LAW TO THE LETTER, THE LAW REALLY. WE FOLLOW THE STATE LAW, SO WE HAVE DONE THAT EXACTLY HOW WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DO IT AND WE’RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THE PROJECTS WE HAVE IN OUR COMMUNITY.

TED SIMONS: YEAH BUT THAT’S A BIG DEAL. YOU KNOW STATE SHARED REVENUES-

MARK MITCHELL: IT IS A BIG DEAL.

TED SIMONS: IT IS A BIG DEAL FOR TEMPE.

MARK MITCHELL: WE KNOW WE’VE DONE THINGS CORRECTLY. WE ARE VERY POSITIVE ABOUT IT.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU LIKE THESE G PLUTTS’ GOVERNMENTS PROPERTY LEASES?

MARK MITCHELL: OUR COMPETITION IS NOT CHANDLER, PEORIA, PHOENIX. OUR COMPETEION REALLY IS THE DENVER'S OF THE WORLD, CHARLOTTE, SALT LAKE CITY, AUSTIN TEXAS, DALLAS TEXAS, ORLANDO, AND PHILIDEPHIA. THAT IS WHO WE ARE COMPETING AGAINST. WE HAVE VERY LIMITED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLS IN OUR TOOLBOX. BUT WHAT WE HAVE IS WE CREATED IT AS I MENTIONED EARLIER-THE QUALITY LIFE AMENTIES THAT RESIDENTS LOOK FOR AND WHAT BUSINESSES ARE LOOKING FOR, FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES. SO HAVING ALL THAT PUT TOGETHER REALLY IS AN INCENTIVE FOR US TO BRING PEOPLE HERE BUT IT HELPS TO HAVE THE CERTAIN TYPES OF TOOLS TO BE ABLE TO ATTRACT CERTAIN COMPANIES HERE. WE HAVE A GREAT BUNCH OF COMPANIES COMING HERE. FOR EXAMPLE, RIO2100, FREEDOM FINANCIAL-THEIR BRING 1500 EMPLOYEES.

TED SIMONS: I GET THAT- BUT CRITICS OF THESE G PLUTTS GOVERNMENT PROPTERY LEASES THEY SAY THE TAXPAYERS ARE PAYING WHAT THESE BUSINESSES SHOULD BE PAYING. DO THEY GOT A POINT THERE?

MARK MITCHELL: ACTUALLY, THEY ARE PAYING FOR IT. FOR EXAMPLE THE OPIS PROJECT ON MYRTLE AND 7TH STREET IN TEMPE ACROSS FROM TRICKS IS A PARKING LOT NOW. AND WE’RE MOVING FORWARD WITH BUILDING TWO BUILDINGS THERE. WE GOING TO HAVE-ITS TWO 20 STORY BUILDINGS WITH RESIDENTIAL, WITH SOME OFFICE AND HOTEL. RIGHT NOW, JUST AS A PARKING LOT, THAT’S ONLY GENERATING $125,000 TO OUR GENERAL FUND. HAVING THIS PROJECT, UTILIZING THE INCENTIVE TOOLS THAT WE’RE LEGALLY ALLOWED TO USE BY STATE’S LAW, WE’RE HAVING A BETTER PROJECT THAT IS GOING TO GENERATE OVER $110 MILLION OVER 20 YEARS. BUT REALLY WHAT’S IMPORTANT IS AFTER THE EIGHT YEARS ITS GOING TO PUT IT ON THE TAX ROLES AND ITS REALLY GOING TO BENEFIT OUR SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND FOR THOSE FUTURE GENERATIONS. THAT IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT UTILIZING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLS AS WE HAVE FOR A SELECTIVELY, WISELY, AND LEGALLY.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, WE WILL SEE WHERE THAT GOES. GOOD TO SEE YOU MAYOR. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. WE APPREACIATE IT.

Mark Mitchell: Tempe Mayor

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