Monday, January 18, 2021 / by Juan Grimaldo
The Tempe City Council unanimously gave approval to a plan by Phoenix-based Red Development to redevelop the Tempe Macayo’s Depot Cantina site into a mixed-use development, which also will preserve and restore the train depot on the site.
Red Development is planning to build a 17-story office tower totaling 319,000 square feet on the northern portion of the 2.5-acre site near Third Street and Ash Avenue, which is bisected by the light rail tracks, according to plans submitted to the city of Tempe. Plans call for constructing the two towers around and over the light rail tracks, creating a space where the train will travel through the buildings.
The office tower will include 10 stories of commercial office space, which the developer’s application to the city said will “entice creative tenants to meet today’s market need and future growth who can benefit from the downtown district.”
For the second tower, Red Development is planning an 18-story, five-star, full-service Hilton-branded hotel with up to 280 guest rooms, according to city documents. The hotel tower also will include 9,400 square feet of conference space, 15,225 square feet of street-level indoor retail and restaurant uses and 4,000 square feet of outdoor dining space on the ground floor. The eighth floor will have an amenity deck with a pool that will connect both towers.
“The site is a prime opportunity for redevelopment given its location within the downtown Tempe district and its proximity to the future streetcar, the light rail station at 3rd Street and Mill Avenue, Tempe Beach Park and Tempe Town Lake,” applicants wrote in the application to the city. “The site’s location also provides an opportunity to make a significant statement along Ash Avenue, the main western gateway into the downtown Tempe district, with the introduction of a high quality, commercial project representative of the ongoing private and public investment occurring in downtown Tempe.”
The project will have a seven-level above-ground parking garage totaling 418,630 square feet. SmithGroup is the architect for the project. As part of the development agreement, the existing train depot will be preserved and rehabilitated.
The depot was built in 1924 and is not listed on the Tempe Historic Properties Register, but was determined eligible for listing in the 1980s, according to documents from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
“The goal of the project is to celebrate the train depot, build a really exciting mixed-use project, but make sure we respect and celebrate the train depot,” Manjula Vaz, attorney with Gammage & Burnham representing Red Development, said during the council meeting.
One member of the public, a neighbor who lives near the planned development, spoke in opposition to the project, citing concerns about traffic and incompatibility with the neighborhood.
The city also approved an eight-year government property lease excise tax, or GPLET agreement for the project. The GPLET agreement would give the city title to the project after construction for an eight-year period. With the city holding the title, the property is not subject to property taxes for the eight years.
The city has another high-profile mixed-use development nearby that also incorporates historic preservation. The Hayden House, the former site of the Monti’s La Casa Vieja restaurant, is being rehabilitated to its 1924 condition as part of the redevelopment of that site for the 100 Mill mixed-use project. That $153 million project began construction on the commercial building in February and is being built as a partnership between Atlanta-based Cousins Properties and Houston-based Hines. Deloitte and Amazon have both leased office space at 100 Mill.