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Tempe Advances $80M Mixed-Use Towers

Rendering courtesy of City of Tempe

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Tempe’s Town Lake skyline will soon see its next major addition if a massive mixed-use project gains city council approval.

Following nearly two hours of discussion on plan details, much of which focused on street level landscaping, the city’s Development Review Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a request by Springbrook Development that paves the way for The Pier, a proposed two-tower, 23-story development on Tempe Town Lake. The $80M project will be home to 551 apartments, 17KSF of retail, more than 8KSF of restaurant and nearly 4KSF of outdoor dining space.

Tempe approved the Pier 202 Masterplan in 2007 to guide development along Rio Salado Parkway between Rural Road and McClintock Drive. The goal for the 10-lot space was to create an urban district with development that promotes pedestrian access and waterfront views.

The Pier project will be a major step forward in realizing the masterplan vision. The two towers will be located at the east and west boundaries of the site’s Lot 5, with the east tower to be constructed in the first phase of the development. A three-story bridge that will run parallel to Vista del Lago Drive will function as a gateway to the residential drive and connect phases one and two.

The plan calls for a total of more than 1.3MSF of building space. Residences will consist of 88 studio, 247 one-bedroom, 208 two-bedroom and eight three-bedroom apartments. Parking is proposed for 1,106 vehicles, including 45 tandem and 26 compact spaces. Bicycle parking is planned for 626 spaces.

Two retail spaces will serve as anchors to the structures, and a signature restaurant space on the northeast ground floor corner will offer waterfront views.

Most of the building will consist of glass set into continuously wrapping balconies. The base will have stone panels at the pedestrian level. Accents will include anodized aluminum door and window frames, stainless steel railings and white painted steel trellises.

The site design calls for pedestrian access on all sides. The north side will feature retail, a lower pool and waterfall, upper courtyard entries and a restaurant terrace offering tiered outdoor seating. Outdoor dining space will continue along the east edge. A multi-level courtyard will connect ground level retail, amenities, apartment lobbies and parking.

As a signature development, sustainability is a significant consideration in the design. Buildings will feature a green roof ecosystem that will reduce noise into the building, protect the roof from heat and light, manage rain loads and reduce the heat island effect.

The buildings’ balconies will be lined with heavy steel planter boxes featuring productive agricultural, elevation-specific plantings. The south street parking area will be separated from the sidewalk by a trellis structure featuring both horizontal and vertical plantings. The other three sides feature heavy landscaping and pedestrian shading to simulate a garden pathway experience.

Residents Concerned About Local Impact

The commission meeting was lightly attended, and most of the discussion occurred between members and the development team.

During the public input and question portion, however, a few area residents voiced concerns about both The Pier and the general pace and magnitude of development in Tempe, particularly in the Town Lake area.

A common theme regarding development was the addition of high rises and steel and glass-focused design has had, and will continue to have, an impact on the city’s visual character. Residents said both existing and planned development in the lakefront area lack any Southwest influence and clash with the city’s historic personality and design traditions.

They also expressed concerns about the impact of significant increases in luxury apartment space in the city, particularly in the 85281 ZIP Code area, which ranges roughly from McKellips Road to Broadway and Loop 101 to SR 143. The area is a prime mixed-use and luxury development zone, and residents are concerned ongoing creation of upscale spaces will drive up rents and price them out of their long-time homes.

Both commission and design team members acknowledged the concerns, but cited Town Lake as a masterpiece of design and development planning that has brought extensive job growth and national recognition to the area.

Following approval by the Development Review Commission, the proposal now goes to the city council for two public hearings. The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 28. Springbrook hopes to begin construction in mid-to-late 2016.


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