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Old 10-15-2009, 10:39 PM
 
547 posts, read 1,462,744 times
Reputation: 430

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There is a fascinating, but a bit depressing, article in the Phoenix New Times this week about the collapse of the Centerpoint condo project in downtown Tempe:

Phoenix News - Concrete Bungle: Tempe’s Twin-Towers Condo Project Collapses Financially, Leaving Investors in the Rubble - page 1

and to a lesser extent, the failure of continued development in downtown Phoenix:

Phoenix News - Phoenix Interrupted: Downtown’s Full of Gleaming Progress Surrounded by Vacant Lots – Now What? - page 1

This begs two questions to me:

1) What is going to happen to Centerpoint? Will it stay up? Be torn down? Become a blighted landscape, or eventually really be a Tempe landmark?

2) What, in summary, is with Phoenix? I say this as a somewhat frustrated person who moved here recently from Chicago and once having lived in Arizona - the downtown constantly seems to be in transition. In Chicago's downtown, you still have condos being built, albeit more slowly. Here it seems like downtown reaches a tipping point, then doesn't quite get there. What is holding back downtown Phoenix from being a "real" downtown, and will it ever get there? It's frustrating having friends visit and having to take them to downtown Scottsdale rather than downtown Phoenix, because I'm a little embarassed about some aspects of downtown Phoenix. And I really do want to see it improve. It has a lot of potential.
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Old 10-16-2009, 02:52 AM
 
10,719 posts, read 19,194,655 times
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How long have you lived in Phoenix? To those of us who have lived here at least 10 years can acknowledge the development that is occurring in downtown the last 3 years is exciting and hasn't been seen in a long time. Yes, it is slow but the difference is ASU got involved and decided to relocate some of its graduate schools and expand its undergraduate campus there. In 10 years, you will see a significant difference due to the development and the improving economy.
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Old 10-16-2009, 07:19 AM
 
Location: Inside the 101
2,639 posts, read 6,823,963 times
Reputation: 2914
I've lived here for 20 years, and I've seen steady improvement of Downtown Phoenix during those two decades. It's been at a slow pace, a pace too slow for some who have given up on it, but the overall trend has been positive. In 1989, Downtown was so bleak that the Suns played outside Downtown at the Coliseum, and Arizona Theater Company performed in an auditorium at Phoenix College, also outside Downtown. With the exception of Symphony Hall, there was virtually nothing going on after dark. 20 years later, we have the Hergberger Theater , US Airways Center, Dodge Theater, Orpheum Theater, First Fridays, Third Fridays, the Downtown Civic Space, ASU Downtown, and light rail. We also have a lot of cool places to eat and drink Downtown like Sens, PastaBAR, Breadfruit, District, Hanny's, Nine|05, the Roosevelt, etc. We had almost none of that 20 years ago. Being the eternal optimist about my home, I see this progression continuing slowly but steadily despite foolish projects like the Chateaux.

Tempe is a sadder story. Tempe had the most vibrant urban center in the Phoenix Metro Area, but lost sight of what made it great. Mill Avenue came to be dominated by the same type of chains seen everywhere else, but the moment the city-subsidized Tempe Marketplace opened, those chain fans fled to that shopping center with its infinite free parking. Now Downtown Tempe is struggling to regain its indie cred. As for Centerpoint, if those towers had been built as rentals, they'd probably be done and occupied by now. Instead, almost everyone got carried away in the middle of this decade and now those towers remain incomplete. I'd say odds are 75% that the towers will be completed as apartments or dorms and 25% that they'll be imploded.

As for Scottsdale, it has it charms with the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, SMOCA, Marshall Way, etc., but I still prefer Phoenix and Tempe over Scottsdale. Phoenix and Tempe have light rail. Scottsdale has Ollie the Trolley. Phoenix and Tempe have contemporary design existing alongside historic districts. Scottsdale has an awkward mix of faux cowboy kitsch and nouveau riche glitz. Phoenix and Tempe may have some vacant lots and incomplete projects, but let's not forget about Scottsdale disasters like the Galleria and Southbridge. 20 years ago, I spent most weekends in Old Town Scottsdale despite living in Central Phoenix. These days, Scottsdale is a place I go maybe quarterly to try a restaurant or for a specific errand. The suburb still has a certain attractiveness, but I feel its own ambivalence about being part of the Phoenix Metro Area has held it back in comparison to Phoenix and Tempe.

Last edited by exit2lef; 10-16-2009 at 07:28 AM..
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Old 10-16-2009, 09:13 PM
 
Location: East Central Phoenix
7,332 posts, read 10,725,145 times
Reputation: 8686
Quote:
Originally Posted by synapse View Post
There is a fascinating, but a bit depressing, article in the Phoenix New Times this week about the collapse of the Centerpoint condo project in downtown Tempe:

Phoenix News - Concrete Bungle: Tempe’s Twin-Towers Condo Project Collapses Financially, Leaving Investors in the Rubble - page 1

and to a lesser extent, the failure of continued development in downtown Phoenix:

Phoenix News - Phoenix Interrupted: Downtown’s Full of Gleaming Progress Surrounded by Vacant Lots – Now What? - page 1

This begs two questions to me:

1) What is going to happen to Centerpoint? Will it stay up? Be torn down? Become a blighted landscape, or eventually really be a Tempe landmark?

2) What, in summary, is with Phoenix? I say this as a somewhat frustrated person who moved here recently from Chicago and once having lived in Arizona - the downtown constantly seems to be in transition. In Chicago's downtown, you still have condos being built, albeit more slowly. Here it seems like downtown reaches a tipping point, then doesn't quite get there. What is holding back downtown Phoenix from being a "real" downtown, and will it ever get there? It's frustrating having friends visit and having to take them to downtown Scottsdale rather than downtown Phoenix, because I'm a little embarassed about some aspects of downtown Phoenix. And I really do want to see it improve. It has a lot of potential.
Centerpoint attracted quite a few buyers that invested a great deal of money into the project. I actually know someone who plopped close to a million dollars into one of the units. The towers themselves were topped out over a year ago ... therefore, it would be ridiculous, wasteful, and purely stupid to tear them town at this point. All that wreckage would have such a negative impact on that area anyway. The project simply needs to be taken over by a new developer/investment group, and be fully completed. Even turning the buildings into apartments would be better than letting them sit empty.

I completely understand your frustration about downtown Phoenix. It has improved over the years, although very slowly. Part of the reason for the slowdown recently is the economy. Honestly, I never thought the overall economic conditions are as horrible as what the media lets on ... but the real estate market & construction sector seem to have been hit pretty hard. Another factor is the outspoken vocal minority who are opposed to practially all vertical development. They are the NIMBYs who don't want their mountain views spoiled, and the preservationists who prefer to keep old useless, dilapidated structures standing vs. newer, taller, more attractive ones built in their place.

I've said for a long time that Phoenix has enormous opportunity to be a world class city with a great skyline, competitive jobs, and an active nightlife. However, the type of people we attract here has prevented it from reaching that potential. A city with a population of over 1.5 million cannot keep plodding along marketing sunshine and cheap housing as our key to prosperity. That might have been acceptable many years ago when Phoenix was a lot smaller, but what worked in the past may not work as well in the present ... and it certainly won't work in the future!
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Old 10-17-2009, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Sonoran Desert
36,290 posts, read 46,495,969 times
Reputation: 25015
If it's any consolation, suburban development has ground to a near halt as well. Downtown has always been fits, starts, failures, and mulligans. Up until a year or so ago, downtown development looked more likely than I have ever seen it. There's hope for those of you who care about downtown. Hope is encouraging.
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Old 10-17-2009, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Mesa, Az
21,144 posts, read 39,928,535 times
Reputation: 3842
Quote:
Originally Posted by silverbear View Post
I've lived here for 20 years, and I've seen steady improvement of Downtown Phoenix during those two decades. It's been at a slow pace, a pace too slow for some who have given up on it, but the overall trend has been positive. In 1989, Downtown was so bleak that the Suns played outside Downtown at the Coliseum, and Arizona Theater Company performed in an auditorium at Phoenix College, also outside Downtown. With the exception of Symphony Hall, there was virtually nothing going on after dark. 20 years later, we have the Hergberger Theater , US Airways Center, Dodge Theater, Orpheum Theater, First Fridays, Third Fridays, the Downtown Civic Space, ASU Downtown, and light rail. We also have a lot of cool places to eat and drink Downtown like Sens, PastaBAR, Breadfruit, District, Hanny's, Nine|05, the Roosevelt, etc. We had almost none of that 20 years ago. Being the eternal optimist about my home, I see this progression continuing slowly but steadily despite foolish projects like the Chateaux.
Downtown as well as the enclaves just N of there have improved a lot in recent years-------------and, the Light Rail seems to be helping

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverbear View Post
Tempe is a sadder story. Tempe had the most vibrant urban center in the Phoenix Metro Area, but lost sight of what made it great. Mill Avenue came to be dominated by the same type of chains seen everywhere else, but the moment the city-subsidized Tempe Marketplace opened, those chain fans fled to that shopping center with its infinite free parking. Now Downtown Tempe is struggling to regain its indie cred. As for Centerpoint, if those towers had been built as rentals, they'd probably be done and occupied by now. Instead, almost everyone got carried away in the middle of this decade and now those towers remain incomplete. I'd say odds are 75% that the towers will be completed as apartments or dorms and 25% that they'll be imploded.
No joke about the Marketplace-----------I go there quite often since it (today) seems to have everything that Mill Ave did with the obvious exception of the Light Rail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverbear View Post
As for Scottsdale, it has it charms with the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, SMOCA, Marshall Way, etc., but I still prefer Phoenix and Tempe over Scottsdale. Phoenix and Tempe have light rail. Scottsdale has Ollie the Trolley. Phoenix and Tempe have contemporary design existing alongside historic districts. Scottsdale has an awkward mix of faux cowboy kitsch and nouveau riche glitz. Phoenix and Tempe may have some vacant lots and incomplete projects, but let's not forget about Scottsdale disasters like the Galleria and Southbridge. 20 years ago, I spent most weekends in Old Town Scottsdale despite living in Central Phoenix. These days, Scottsdale is a place I go maybe quarterly to try a restaurant or for a specific errand. The suburb still has a certain attractiveness, but I feel its own ambivalence about being part of the Phoenix Metro Area has held it back in comparison to Phoenix and Tempe.
No kidding; unless I have business in that city-----------I avoid stopping in Scottsdale at all costs. And the worst part about it is I actually lived there.
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Old 10-17-2009, 10:04 AM
 
Location: Arizona
824 posts, read 2,222,259 times
Reputation: 605
Centerpoint in Tempe is just a big, crumbling example of what happens when loose lending and a bubble mania mentality take hold. Read the whole Tempe/New Times article, it includes all sorts of details. Plans for two towers worth of very expensive condos, wine aficionado room, high end shopping and restaurants in Tempe, Arizona. Can't lose proposal. Almost as sure a thing as investing your money in an outfit called Radical Bunny.
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Old 10-18-2009, 03:20 AM
 
81 posts, read 330,536 times
Reputation: 64
I've recently been engaging the Tempe Downtown Community, the organization that is tasked with revitalizing downtown Tempe. All agree that developers got it wrong, expecting $1M tiny condos in a college town to sell. There is a deal well in the works to take the towers and make them into more realistic types of housing for the "tweeners"--the post college young professionals who are not silicone-oriented as Scottsdale. I went through the development plans of all the real estate in that area. And, while the developers, way under water still don't want to admit it, there are some nice leases coming up to bring Tempe back to its roots, albeit SLIGHYLY more upscale than it was in the 80's, but still funky and original as a key college town would engender. The developers and the buzz of too much money was too much, that's for sure. I still laugh when I talk to developers about exactly who they saw as a target market for $1M mid-range quality condos overlooking a fake lake. Hello??? There are 67,000 students down the street who want coffee shops, nightlife, bookstores, not Abercrombie and Fitch! My buddha! LOL
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:56 PM
 
Location: Arizona
824 posts, read 2,222,259 times
Reputation: 605
As far as another use for Centerpoint towers, that may be possible. I am not a construction expert, but I can make an educated guess that incomplete structures exposed to the elements for years might be unsuitable for completion. The vandalism is just gravy. It may very well have to be razed.

If it is feasible to safely complete the buildings, the costs may make the project too risky for anyone to fund.
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:29 AM
 
17,851 posts, read 40,508,038 times
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Well, they are a lot further along than say, Elevation Chandler was when the funding fell out. I agree that they should not sit too long, but I would hope there is a plan for them. Tearing them down now (as out of place as they look) seems like a massive waste, and not very "green".

Here's some up to date news:

http://triangle.bizjournals.com/tria...4/daily46.html#
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