By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
Co-developers Grand Capitol, LLC and Butler Housing Company, Inc. have submitted a Planned Unit Development proposal to the City of Phoenix for a 15.6KSF, 120-unit hotel and 2,000SF restaurant project at the NEC of West Van Buren Street and 10th Avenue.
Adjacent to University Park, the currently vacant site once housed The Desert Inn motel. Promoted as, “The friendliest place you’ve ever been,” The Desert Inn was one of many motorist-serving facilities in the area during the heyday of Van Buren Street’s time as “Motel Alley” from the 1930s to the 1960s.
While major sections of Van Buren east of the project site have seen extensive redevelopment in the last 20 years, the area west of Grand Avenue and Van Buren has not, to date, seen a significant degree of revitalization, according to the submitted narrative. The project intends to serve as a proof of concept and motivator to other developers to undertake work in the area by reactivating a site impacted by blight, under-use and, “urban camping.”
Given the proximity to the park and the Arizona State Capitol, the combined hotel and café/sandwich/coffee shop plans to serve as a connection to the surrounding community and provide a gathering area for people taking advantage of the nearby facilities.
Preliminary planning consists of two phases, with the hotel building and site preparation for the restaurant as phase one. The second phase will be the actual restaurant construction. The site will be developed around a north/south pedestrian spine that connects the hotel and restaurant with the existing neighborhood to the north.
The hotel’s first floor will offer rooms and guest amenities, such as meeting spaces, a fitness center, business services and access to the pool and deck area. Floors two-through-five will be guest rooms. A centerpiece of the proposed design will be a porte cochere at the hotel’s west entrance that will project to the property line and serve as a shaded walkway between the hotel lobby and 10th Avenue.
When the restaurant is built, it will offer a drive-thru and outdoor patio space.