A north Tempe development could eventually house 550 families and provide office space for 8,000 workers, officials said Monday at a celebration for the Grand at Papago Park Center.
The 58-acre development at Priest Drive and Washington Street is owned by Salt River Project, which runs its real-estate holdings in the area through a subsidiary called Papago Park Center. The Grand development is turning previously vacant land along the Grand Canal, Valley Metro Light Rail and Loop 202 into a multiuse project with offices, apartments and eventually a hotel.
"We strive to be the place to be in Arizona," Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said at Monday's event as heavy equipment worked in the background and a Southwest Airlines jet flew overhead to the nearby airport. "I don't think it's gong to be hard to fill this facility."
The Grand has one 220,000-square-foot office building under construction that will house 275 S.A.P. workers when it opens in January. S.A.P. is a German software company that has agreed to lease the top floor of the building.
The first phase of a 550-unit apartment complex is expected to break ground next year as well, pending an agreement with the developer, said Mitch Rosen, development manager for Papago Park Center.
"This is the first light-rail stop from the airport and the first turnoff on the freeway from the airport," Rosen said. "It's special. I think it separates itself from everything else in the marketplace."
He said it likely will take 15 to 20 years before subsequent phases of apartments, offices and the hotel are all complete.
To prepare the site for development, the Grand Canal was realigned and a new multiuse path was added, along with lighting, sitting areas and bridges with artist-designed railing. The canal path eventually will be open to the public like other canal banks throughout the Phoenix area. About $8 million was spent so far on those efforts, Rosen said.
The development will have a large art installation in the center replicating Theodore Roosevelt Dam. SRP General Manager Mark Bonsall said the public utility tracked down some of the original stone used in 1911 to make the dam that was removed when the dam was later enlarged, and that stone will be used in the water feature.
The developers expect high interest in the first office building for the three floors below S.A.P., said David Krumwiede, executive vice president for Lincoln Property Co., which was selected through a request for proposals last year to develop the office project.
"Large-tenant activity in the market is strong," Krumwiede said. "The fundamentals in the leasing market in the Phoenix metro area are good."
The Grand is part of SRP's larger Papago Park Center, which extends from Mill Avenue and Curry Road, including the Marquee Theatre and office buildings, to the west beyond 56th Street and north to Van Buren Street. Papago Park Center includes 350 acres with 3.5 million square feet of office, industrial, retail and residential property.
Lessors such as Lincoln Property make payments to Papago Park Center, which are accounted for in SRP's general fund.