Monday, September 17, 2012

Housing key part of SkySong's 'secret sauce'

Arizona State University is launching a major residential expansion at its SkySong innovation campus in south Scottsdale. Construction begins this month on a 325-unit apartment complex that will house, among others, people who work at SkySong businesses.

We asked ASU Foundation Vice President of Real Estate Don Couvillion to tell us about these plans.

Question: Could you briefly explain what SkySong is?

Answer: SkySong is a global business community that links technology, entrepreneurship, innovation and education to position Greater Phoenix and ASU as leaders of the knowledge economy.

SkySong is already an exciting place with a variety of people from small and large companies, from the university and various student entrepreneurs interacting together on a daily basis. Visitors often comment on the energy at SkySong — it is already a hub of business activity that will continue to grow over the next decade.

Q: Why is this residential expansion so important?

A: We have been working since 2004 to create a real mixed-use facility, a place where people can live, work and learn. The residential project is the culmination of that development plan; with it we now have a project that is unique in the metro area, offering our knowledge workers the opportunity to experience a true community within the campus.

Q: How will more residential development change the campus?

A: More residential will help to create a 24-hour community — one that will support retail, additional office space and, most importantly, continued collaboration among the residents and workers at SkySong. This kind of collaboration is the “secret sauce” that leads to new ideas, new technology, and new products that will help southern Scottsdale revitalize itself in the new economy.

Q: Who do you envision will live in the new housing?

A: Employees of the SkySong tenants such as Ticketmaster, Adaptive Curriculum, Yodle, Earth 911 and Global Patent Solutions. We will also see folks who work at Scottsdale Healthcare, General Dynamics, the downtown Scottsdale merchants, airline employees from Sky Harbor, and some members of the ASU community. An eclectic mix.

Q: Why has residential development been slow to emerge there?

A: It took awhile for the players in the “new economy” to sort themselves out. Now, projects have to make sense on their merits, not just ride on the up-currents of easy debt and rosy projections. The city of Scottsdale has approved several projects of late that are in good locations and have good prospects for success. We welcome the company.

Q: When is SkySong projected to be built out?

A: We are preparing for a build-out of about 150,000 square feet of office space every three years, meaning build-out in about 15 years.

Q: What do you anticipate it will be like at build-out?

A: I see an eclectic mix of buildings, architecture, tenants, companies and products being developed there. I see people from all over the world living there, collaborating and creating a new ecosystem of companies that educate and innovate in fields as varied as alternative energy, education software, Web design and technologies we haven’t even imagined.

Q: Will we ever see innovation campuses like SkySong crop up in other parts of the Valley?

A: I think there will be those that attempt to emulate our success. If so, we will be flattered.

Q: Is SkySong gaining attention as a possible model for other cities and universities?

A: Yes, we receive inquiries every day from people all over the world who ask us how we have created the vibrancy of SkySong. We host delegations from U.S. cities, from Asia, Europe and Latin America, who ask lots of questions about how we created the ecosystem of collaboration and entrepreneurship that they see at SkySong.

Q: What are you reading this summer?

A: I finally got around to getting “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. I love the outdoors, and appreciate her take on the challenges of a good long hike.

by Scottsdale Republic Aug 15, 2012

Housing key part of SkySong's 'secret sauce'

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