‘Landfill to Landmark’ is project’s call to action

Projected to be largest project ever proposed to Tempe voters

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As Tempe inches closer to the vote in May to transform a 46-acre landfill currently occupying the area around Rio Salado and Priest, activists from both sides are cranking up the rhetoric. Tempe Wins, a group comprised of former Tempe political leaders, Tempe residents and business owners, favors ‘Landfill to Landmark,’a proposed new downtown Tempe entertainment district.

Tempe Wins held a meeting on Feb. 23 at The Beer Shop Co. off First Street in Tempe to discuss why Tempe residents should vote YES on Props 301, 302 and 303, as well as bust some myths about the proposition. Xavier Gutierrez, the president and chief executive Officer for the Arizona Coyotes club, led the meeting which covered the financials of the $2.1 billion project. The development would be the largest private sector investment in history of the city of Tempe, meaning this is 100% private and would be no risk to city tax payers. By voting YES on the three propositions, Tempe will sell land for $25 per square foot, with a developer surcharge of $120 per square foot, which is $240 million. The developer, the Alex Meruelo group, would then pay Tempe $150 per square foot, increasing the total purchase price at $593 million.

Gutierrez made sure there was no confusion Landfill adjacent to proposed entertainment district, which would have to undergo massive clean-up before work could proceeed. — Wrangler News photo by Andrew Lwowski ‘Landfill to Landmark’ is project’s call to action Projected to be largest project ever proposed to Tempe voters about the GPLET or the Coyotes’ loyalty to Tempe, citing their exit from the city of Glendale. He stated that GPLET is a very common developmental tool, adding that there are 37 similar projects already around Tempe Town Lake. Additionally, he said, there is a no relocation clause in the 30-year GPLET that would be signed by the National Hockey League. An eight-year GPLET would be signed for nearby retail, office and housing. The bonds used to develop the site are not taxpayer backed, either.

They are earmarked for remediation of the landfill, public infrastructure and title to the land. Officials say the bonds would be repaid through uncommitted and voluntary surcharges, such as shopping in the district or attending a Coyotes game. The Bonds are guaranteed through the land, the private real estate and buildings. Gutierrez said he supports Alex Meruelo and his successful record as a businessman and developer, citing a 40-plus-year track record of successful businesses, ranging from banking, media and gaming. It is worth noting that over his career, said officials, that Meruelo has had no bankruptcies. Allowing the Meruelo group to develop downtown would bring in a net gain of $693 million, with a $115 tax abatement over 30 years, according to reporting by a support group. Gutierrez said the plaza would be anchored by the Arizona Coyotes, but would feature two hotels, a private medical office, nearly 2,000 residential units, a theater with 3,500 seats, and a row of boutique shops and restaurants. The planned community-focused district would create a vibrant, year-round hub for all of Tempe and its surrounding communities to enjoy while creating nearly 7,000 new, permanent jobs.

While some concerns arose over traffic and an influx of travelers, the city of Tempe will create 6,900 new parking spaces and beef up streetcar, shuttle and bus capability for alternate transportation. Gutierrez cited Sun Devil Stadium, home of ASU’s football team, as an example. Sun Devil Stadium holds 50,000 during home games, that Tempe is said to be able to accommodate—not to mention five freeways within a five-mile radius of downtown Tempe, which it is claimed will alleviate increased traffic. The time to develop downtown Tempe is now, said backers, and Tempe city officials call this deal a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for the city. Details: TempeWins.com.




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