Crews are prepping a downtown Phoenix property to lay the foundation for 325 apartments that a Scottsdale-based developer anticipates will house a number of college students after it is finished in 2013.
Executives of Concord Eastridge said they see opportunity in the increasing number of students moving into the downtown area to take classes at three major campuses: Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus, with nearly 16,000 students; the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine and Pharmacy College campuses, with 560 students combined; and the Phoenix School of Law, with an estimated 1,000 students.
Adding to the potential economic boost is a future Arizona Cancer Center that will focus on clinical research, and Northern Arizona University, which this fall will open physical-therapy and physician’s-assistant programs to draw 49 students to the downtown biomedical campus.
Community leaders welcome the $52 million apartment project south of Roosevelt Street, between Third and Fourth streets, as a sign of revitalization. The historical area has had a smattering of dusty and empty lots since the 1970s and 1980s, when land speculators and property owners thought they could make it big by razing and selling properties near downtown Phoenix and what eventually became Interstate 10.
The two-block, eight-story apartment and retail buildings will change the Roosevelt neighborhood significantly, said Cindy Dach, a neighborhood resident who also leads the non-profit Roosevelt Row Community Development Corp.
“It’s going to increase our population probably around 30 percent,” Dach said. “And even from the simple thing when I walk around at night … the fact that there’s going to be lights on is just going to change the neighborhood and bring more people walking around.”
Dach said it also will diversify an area that is home to several artists and their studios, including the nearby Artisan Village at Roosevelt and Sixth streets.
Phoenix officials estimate the two buildings — a mix of studios and two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments — will house an estimated 600 people. The apartments will include several amenities for students and young professionals.
“There will be a pool and spa and other amenities on both blocks,” said Steven Schnoor, a Concord Eastridge vice president. “Each building has its own pool, its own fitness facility, its own entertainment area — including a barbecue eating area and lounge — and interior entertaining spaces.”
The list goes on: tanning beds, fitness rooms, community kitchens where tenants can entertain large groups of friends, high-speed Internet and other stuff college kids look for in a near-campus home.
“Really, they’re all the amenities that you would expect in state-of-the-art student housing in higher education today,” Schnoor said, noting that Concord Eastridge’s portfolio includes several college projects.
Schnoor said the company doesn’t have an exact dollar figure yet on rent for the downtown Phoenix apartments, but “they will be comparable to what a student would pay to live at (ASU’s) Taylor Place.”
A single bedroom at ASU’s Taylor Place in downtown Phoenix costs $7,670, while a double-bedroom costs $8,560, according to Arizona Board of Regents records. That cost does not include a meal plan.
Concord Eastridge also is making its project a home for small businesses, renting the ground floor of both buildings to retailers.
The developer has been preparing for the apartment project since June, when it paid $3.08 million for the two vacant blocks, 2.89 acres in all, which had been owned by Mortgages Ltd. until it went bankrupt.
Concord Eastridge has gotten some help from Phoenix officials. It will pay no property tax on the site for 25 years — a burden eased by a special designation granted by the City Council last year.
In Arizona, a city or county can ease property taxes for a project that is meant to spur economic development by taking ownership of the property under the state’s Government Property Lease Excise Tax program. Several properties in downtown Phoenix, from the Arizona Center to the mixed retail-and-office project CityScape are among the hundreds of properties that pay no property taxes in Phoenix because the city owns them.
Instead, the developers pay rent to the city every year of the agreement. Its annual rent to the city starts with $10,000 in the second year and increases 5 percent each year for the contract’s 25-year term. After eight years of the contract, it will begin paying excise (sales) tax of up to $350,000 a year.