Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hotel going up in Tempe a symbol of rejuvenation

Downtown Tempe businesses see construction of a Residence Inn by Marriott hotel as a sign that commerce in the Mill Avenue District is on the mend from a difficult economy.

Nancy Hormann, president of the Downtown Tempe Community, which manages the Mill Avenue District for landowners, considers the new hotel that is under construction at Forest Avenue and Fifth Street a boost for downtown merchants.

Hormann said downtown business owners are so delighted that they are referring to the towering crane at the hotel-construction site as the "official bird of downtown Tempe."

The hotel is expected to open late next year or in early 2014.

After struggling through the tough economy, which stalled many high-profile Valley developments, including the Tempe Marriott hotel, business owners are looking forward to the increased foot traffic expected downtown when the hotel opens.

"To have cranes, to have building going on, it's ... like, 'OK, we're on the rise again,' " Hormann said. "Having that long-awaited development actually happen, really, to me, shows that our economy is turning around and, as we predicted, downtown Tempe is being one of the first to benefit."

Construction on the 173-room, 11-story hotel was supposed to start in early 2008, but the project was stalled when the economy nosedived.

The Residence Inn is just east of City Hall and across the street from Tempe police headquarters.

The site once was home of the popular Bandersnatch Brew Pub, a bar and microbrewery.

As part of the developer's agreement with the city, Tempe built a parking garage next to the lot to serve the hotel and city employees.

But when the economy crashed and construction on the hotel stalled, the garage became the backdrop for an acre of dirt. The garage includes retail and business space that Tempe development officials predicted would be leased when the hotel was constructed.

In 2010, the Downtown Tempe Community built an urban-community garden on the empty lot to improve the site until the economy turned.

The garden closed last year when plans were announced that construction on the hotel would start within the year.

The hotel will have suites with kitchens. Amenities will include 3,600 square feet of meeting space, a restaurant, business center, fitness center and rooftop pool and fire pit, according to the website of Florida-based developer Finvarb Group.

by Dianna M. Náñez - Jul. 9, 2012 The Republic |

Hotel going up in Tempe a symbol of rejuvenation

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