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What is the Hottest Intersection?

Uptown Plaza, the site of a major renovation project and one of the unique features that led to Central and Camelback’s selection as Phoenix’s Hottest Intersection for 2017. Credit: Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

When navigating in an urban environment, intersections are your best points of reference.

The same is true when navigating economic development and real estate trends.

On Sept. 13, nearly 300 attendees packed a ballroom at the Omni Resort & Spa at Montelucia to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Urban Land Institute’s “10 Hottest Intersections in Phoenix” event and choose a new title-holder for 2017.

Using research from CoStar and their own data and expertise, a who’s who of area real-estate All-Stars were each given an intersection in the Phoenix metro area and five minutes to make their case. Presentations were fast, furious and frenetic, and the room erupted in laughter more than once.

Surprisingly, given such a spirited and impassioned group of presenters, the vast majority avoided getting buzzed by the organizers’ air horn for going over time, although one spirited advocate (who shall remain nameless for fear of a potential defamation lawsuit) nearly had to be pulled from the stage because she didn’t want to stop arguing her case.

Here are the presenters, the intersections and the key takeaways.

Niels Kreipke – Desert Viking

Central and Roosevelt

  • A strong sense of sociability
  • Multiple uses and activities
  • Accessible and well-linked
  • A strong volume of high density development coupled with a focus on maintaining history

Danielle Casey – City of Scottsdale

Scottsdale Road and Greenway-Hayden Loop

  • The core of a massive office market
  • Immediate proximity to Scottsdale Airport
  • More Class A space than any other submarket
  • High-wealth demographics
  • Significant multifamily demand

Danny Plapp – LGE Design Build

Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard

  • Newest suburban core and strongest Millennial draw in the Valley
  • More than 70 downtown events and 100,000 visitors a year
  • 2,750 multifamily units and 600 more in planning and development
  • Less than 4 percent office vacancy
  • More than $50M investment by the city and $200M in private capital
  • 40KSF of retail and office planned for the SEC

Craig DeMarco – Upward Projects

Central Avenue and Camelback Road

  • The intersection point of four historic neighborhoods
  • Strong neighborhood association support for responsible development
  • Some of the most historically and architecturally relevant buildings in the Valley
  • Abundant parking
  • Easy access to light rail and walking/riding/bicycling options

Matt Mooney – Cousins Properties

Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway

  • High volume blend of transportation, labor and amenities
  • More than 25 restaurant, hotel and retail attractions within walking distance
  • Immediate access to Arizona State University
  • Border-to-border light rail service
  • Massive existing and ongoing office and amenities development
  • Highest rate of technology space absorption of any submarket in the U.S.

John Lewis – East Valley Partnership

Gilbert Road and Vaughn Avenue

  • Massive growth since 2013 under a clearly defined redevelopment plan
  • Unique entertainment district with an outstanding blend of retail, office, restaurants and parking
  • 40KSF in new development and 600 additional parking stalls planned
  • Simplified procurement, zoning and development approval processes

Chris Toci – Cushman & Wakefield

24th Street and Camelback Road

  • High-wealth demographics and home prices
  • A Top 10 lifestyle center (Biltmore)
  • High walkability
  • No available land sites/a historical and unique self-contained area

Christine Mackay – City of Phoenix

Central Avenue and Washington Street

  • Central point of $500M in capital investment
  • Major developments and renovations ongoing
  • 1,500 multifamily units added in the last year, 1,920 under construction and 2,500 planned in the immediate area, with stabilization for new developments taking less than one year to achieve
  • 425 percent increase in tech companies in the last several years

Jordan Rose – Rose Law Group

Scottsdale and Camelback roads

  • A work/shop/live/play hub
  • Social/retail center at Scottsdale Fashion Square and recent approval of 150-foot height for new development and renovations
  • A leading site for office, retail, hotel and multifamily offerings with much more to come

Number 10?

ULI’s select and top secret organizing committee was unable to settle on a lone candidate for the tenth contender on the list, so attendees were asked to evaluate the benefits of three locations and choose the last entry before picking a winner from the Top Ten list.

The nominees for the final entry were:

Rural Road and University Drive

  • “Bookends” for ASU
  • Extensive planned redevelopment

44th Street and Camelback Road

  • The nexus of Arcadia, Paradise Valley, Biltmore and Scottsdale
  • A major transportation hub
  • High volume development and pass-through traffic

I-17 and Happy Valley Road

  • The “heart” of North Phoenix’s growth path
  • Fully self-contained
  • Proximity to loops 101 and 303

In the end, audience members chose 44th Street and Camelback by a significant margin to round out the ten nominees.

And the Winner Is?

Following a quick recap of all the entries, attendees were shown codes for each nominee and texted their votes to the committee’s response number.

Second Runner-Up: Scottsdale and Camelback.

First Runner-Up: Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway

And the winner for Phoenix’s Hottest Intersection for 2017 was:

Central Avenue and Camelback Road.

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