Friday, February 24, 2012

Investors have eye on McDowell Corridor -

Metro Phoenix residents are eager to see new life along the nearly 3-mile stretch of McDowell Road from Loop 101 to 64th Street.

It was standing-room only at a recent meeting of the Scottsdale City Council Subcommittee on Economic Development, where project representatives gave updates on their plans to kick-start revitalization on McDowell.

Residents learned that there already is new investment in the area and that more is on the way. In all, the corridor has attracted about $138million in private investment money in the past two years, said Jim Mullin, the city's economic-vitality director.

Those investments include apartment projects by Mark-Taylor and Chason Development, Chapman Ford's continued expansion, Fry's upcoming renovation, Comerica Bank, Chase Bank's expansion, Certified Benz & Beemer, and Paul's Ace Hardware renovation.

"There are two properties in escrow that, when announced, will bring the total to $150million, all since the city's Economic Development Department reorganization in November 2010," Mullin said.

That total doesn't include two major projects planned at SkySong, the Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center.

And rising above it all could be an elevated trail in the center of McDowell that would go from the Indian Bend Wash just east of Miller Road to 64th Street at Papago Park and could include a 3,000- to 4,000-seat amphitheater at Papago Park. The proposal could be considered by voters in a bond proposal next year.

Current and future investments are aimed at bringing the McDowell Corridor "back to where it wants to be," Mullin said.

Mayor Jim Lane said there are no subsidies from the city in any of the projects involving that $138million investment.

New dealership

In 2008, Penske Automotive Group Inc. closed its Scottsdale Jaguar and Scottsdale Land Rover dealership at 6725 E. McDowell. Last November, Certified Benz & Beemer purchased the property from Penske and moved its pre-owned luxury-auto business from Mesa to McDowell.

"We started out in Mesa back in 2006, and we had 30 cars and 10 employees," manager Normand Neal said.

"Today, we have about 200 cars and over 40 employees, and we're estimating our annual sales this year to be about $45million."
A Scottsdale address better suits the business because of its focus on luxury autos, he said.

New residential

Chason Development, an upstate New York apartment developer, has purchased from Pitre Properties Ltd. a 5-acre site at the northwestern corner of McDowell and 68th Street. What was once an auto dealership will be transformed into a high-end apartment complex.

Zoning attorney John Berry said Chason plans to invest $25million in the project, which will include 220 units in one-, two- and three-story buildings, and reuse the existing parking garage.

The units along McDowell will feature stoops, or porches, with steps to bring the "activity out front."

"This is something we haven't seen in Scottsdale yet," Berry said.

The project would provide access to the nearby canal and could include landscaping the canal, he said.

In the meantime, Mark-Taylor expects to begin demolition next month to make way for its 536-unit luxury-apartment complex on 27 acres at the southeastern corner of 74th Street and McDowell.
The project represents a $75 million investment, and rents will average about $1,200 a month, said Scott Taylor, Mark-Taylor's president.
The project already has spurred commercial redevelopment in the area.

Fry's spokeswoman JoEllen Lynn said the Fry's store on McDowell west of Hayden Road will be remodeled and expanded in anticipation of the increased population in the area.

Work should begin in June with completion slated for January.


Employment at SkySong has reached more than 1,000, and it has generated more than $397million in economic impact for the city since its inception, according to a new report from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

The complex, at the southeastern corner of Scottsdale Road and McDowell, now includes more than 70 companies and has reached 97 percent occupancy.

The foundation expects to have a third office building and a 325-unit apartment complex under construction at SkySong in the coming months.

Construction permits should be obtained within 90 days for the apartments, said Don Couvillion, vice president of real estate for the ASU Foundation.

Pre-leasing has begun for the third office building, SkySong III, he said.

By Edward Gately, The Republic| Feb 23, 2012

Investors have eye on McDowell Corridor -

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