A 31-story residential tower will replace the Arizona Center's grassy lawn in downtown Phoenix, according to plans announced Tuesday.
The $100 million project proposes adding 350 units to the mixed-use complex, which encompasses two city blocks along Van Buren Street. The corner at Fifth Street where crews would build the tower is now undeveloped, open space.
The aging Arizona Center already is home to offices, entertainment, restaurants and a garden area. Its owners are trying to attract new tenants and reinvent the center as a more modern destination.
North American Development Group, based in Florida, is under contract to purchase a nearly 40,000-square-foot parcel for the residential tower, according to a press release. Phoenix-based Will Bruder Architects will design the building.
At 31 stories, the building would be among the tallest in Phoenix. Chase Tower has 40 floors while 44 Monroe, the city's tallest residential site, has 34.
A construction timeline isn't available, a project representative said. Assuming the developer completes the land purchase, the tower must still go through Phoenix's development approval process.
The tower will "drastically change the Arizona Center" and bring more people to the property, said Chris Chamberlain, a partner with North American Development Group.
"It's clear people want to live in connected areas like downtown Phoenix now," he said.
Unlike several high-rise residential projects recently proposed in downtown Phoenix, developers will not seek city assistance, according to a project representative.
Amenities will include a swimming pool terrace and six-level parking garage, the press release said. Residences will range from studios to three bedrooms.
Plans also include a shaded courtyard and ground-floor dining space.
The Arizona Center sold to Parallel Capital Partners and Angelo, Gordon and Co. for $126 million in 2015. Its undeveloped land allows the owners to add density to Phoenix's urban core, Mayor Greg Stanton said at an event earlier this year.
A boutique hotel also is slated for the 16-acre property, though owners haven't announced additional details.
“It was a center that was way ahead of its time when it was built," Stanton said.
New construction must go through the city's development process, which includes filing plans and meeting with Phoenix staff before receiving permits to build.
The residences will contribute to an updated vision for the aging center.
When the Arizona Center opened in 1990, it drew thousands to downtown Phoenix for days of festivities. But construction of the bold new development started just before the Valley's real estate market and economy hit a downturn. Its opening coincided with a national recession.
"The Arizona Center was created to be a reason to bring people to downtown Phoenix again after decades of flight from the area," said Mark Stapp, real-estate expert and director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at Arizona State University. "But by itself, it wasn't enough to draw enough visitors or other new development in the area."
And in recent years, tenants have struggled.
Owners hope to change that with a $25 million makeover that started construction in March. Most changes focus on refreshing the center to reflect a growing downtown and nearby university, leaders said at the ground breaking.
Priorities include adding valet parking along Third Street, adding glass storefronts and enhancing common areas.