Dwell: A Work @ Home Community

Credit: Architekton/WORKSBUREAU

By Rebekah Morris for AZBEX

Holoualoa Companies has plans in a bustling area of north Tempe for workforce housing in the form of a 129-unit multifamily development. The 2.06-acre complex at the NWC of Farmer Avenue and Fifth Street will be comprised of studio and one-bedroom units.

Currently on site are office buildings, including that of Architekton, who is acting as the design architect on this project, while WORKSBUREAU is the Architect of Record. The offices will remain intact with the housing being redeveloped around them.

If all goes according to plan, the project could break ground as early as Q1 2022, with an estimated 14-16-month construction timeline. The project may open as early as Q2 2023. hardison/downey Construction is the General Contractor and Turner CM is the Construction Manager on the estimated $15-$20M project.

Holualoa Companies is requesting an increase to the allowed density for the project; going from 29 dwelling units per acre to 65 DU/AC. The planned project will exceed parking requirements, providing 143 spaces to be shared with the existing offices. Bike storage is provided with each unit.

Workforce by Design, not Mandate

According to Steve Betts, managing director of development for Holoualoa Companies, the intent is to provide the area much needed workforce housing in a setting that enables and enhances live-work amenities including meeting rooms, ‘Zoom Rooms’ and casual collision spaces for professionals.

By state law, cities cannot mandate affordable housing. Rather, they encourage incorporating units that are labeled as ‘workforce’ or ‘affordable’ based on the area’s Adjusted Median Income. For this project, the label of workforce housing is based on rents for 80% to 120% of the area’s AMI. Betts indicated the project is aimed at the ‘missing middle’ income earners of $50K – $70K per year professionals who are likely to work from home.

Development Joins Nearby High-Profile Projects 

North Tempe has continued to attract capital investment in the form of mixed-use development, office, and multifamily projects.

The location of this planned project is near several other high-profile developments, including:

  • The Beam on Farmer
  • 250 Rio
  • Tempe Depot
  • 100 Mill
  • VIB Tempe
  • First + Farmer Residential
  • Hayden Station
  • The Roosevelt

Tempe needs More Affordable and Workforce Housing

According to the City of Tempe, more affordable and workforce housing options are needed. In 2019, the City adopted three priorities in order to maintain the current level of affordable and workforce housing available to residents. The priorities include:

  1. Implement Affordable Housing Impact Statements;
  2. Expand use of incentives such as fee waivers, reimbursements and abatements, and
  3. Dedicate initial seed funding to the existing Affordable Housing Trust Fund

This project is not seeking any incentives or fee abatements at any level. Rather, Betts indicated his desire to demonstrate that workforce housing by market-driven design can be successful.


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