New Development Proposed For Elevation Chandler Site
New Development Proposed For Elevation Chandler Site
Eight years after construction of a hotel near Chandler Fashion Center halted abruptly, a proposal to replace the six-story concrete eyesore has been submitted.
Like the failed Elevation Chandler project, the new proposal includes a hotel. It also calls for high-density housing, retail and office space on the lot northwest of the Loop 101/Loop 202 interchange.
If this project, Chandler Viridian, is approved, demolition of the abandoned shell and new construction could begin in 2015.
"We want to get down that existing structure as soon as everybody else does," said Chris Anderson, managing director of Hines, the Houston-based developer behind Chandler Viridian.
"We think this is the best site in the city of Chandler."
It represents a step forward for the development of the highly visible site that has been the subject of court battles and financial struggles.
"I am optimistic, and it's the first time I've said that about this project," Chandler City Councilman Kevin Hartke said. "Whatever could go wrong on a property seemingly has gone wrong on this property."
Construction of Elevation Chandler began nearly a decade ago but ground to a halt in spring of 2006 when developer Jeff Cline ran into financial troubles. There has been no progress on the building shell since.
Financing struggles, bankruptcy filings and foreclosure followed. A botched trustee sale led to a three-year legal battle over ownership of the property.
Point Center Financial was awarded the property in 2012, but the California-based lending firm had its own struggles, from lawsuits by investors to its own bankruptcy filing in February 2013.
Hines entered a contract to purchase the Elevation Chandler property last year.
The 10-acre plot that includes the Elevation Chandler building is under control of a trustee and must also be approved by the court before the sale is finalized, Anderson said.
The purchase of a second plot just south is contingent only on city approval, he said.
If everything goes as planned, Anderson expects completion of the sale in the third quarter of this year.
Rene Esparza, an executive at Point Center Financial, and trustee Howard Grobstein both declined to comment on the property or the sale.
Elevation Chandler has been a sore spot with Chandler since it was abandoned. It is a highly visible site next to the city's signature shopping center, at the entry to the Price Corridor and the junction of two major freeways.
"It would be nice to get rid of that building, that's for sure," Councilman Rick Heumann said. "It's almost like a landmark now, but not a landmark we're proud of."
Because of the way the building was constructed, it cannot be imploded, but rather must be dismantled in pieces and hauled away, Anderson said. The process could take five months, he said.
Many people have become immune to the sight of that concrete skeleton, but Tempe resident and certified financial planner Greg Kotsakis drives by regularly and thinks about what a prime property it sits on.
"It would definitely be better if we could push that through, get it cleaned up and make it an asset to the community," he said.
Several City Council members expressed support for Chandler Viridian but want a guarantee that the proposed project would be built as proposed.
Council members Jeff Weninger and Nora Ellen said they hoped to see the commercial aspects developed in the early phases of the project, echoing a lukewarm reception by the City Council to early suggestions that Hines planned to bring high-density housing.
"I think the apartments work well blended with the other uses, so you just want to make sure the other uses are going to come forward as well," Weninger said.
Ellen wants to see the commercial aspect go up first.
Councilman Jack Sellers said he was less concerned about the balance of commercial and residential.
"The profit for them really is not in the apartments," Sellers said. "For them to make that site work, they really need to do all of it."
The site plan calls for residential buildings on the south side, retail and restaurant space on the north along Frye Road and two office buildings and a parking garage in the center of the lot.
The hotel is the tallest proposed building and would be near Frye Road and Galleria Way. It is expected to be about six or seven stories, but could go as high as 10 stories depending on the hotel brand's needs, Anderson said.
The residential portion would include about 335 units in seven four-story buildings.
The plan calls for about 240,000 square feet of office space in one or two buildings. It proposes about 15,000 square feet of combined retail or restaurant space. According to the tentative site plan, these two buildings would be placed about where the Elevation Chandler building now stands.
The developer wants to create an urban environment that is pedestrian friendly, Anderson said. A central pedestrian promenade and 1.5-mile wellness trail are key features of the project.
The project is scheduled to be considered by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday, June 18, and by City Council on Thursday, July 10.
Sore sights for eyes; Elevation Chandler, the abandoned hotel and condominium project near Chandler Fashion Center that is among the biggest eyesores in Chandler, is one step closer to being demolished.
What other Chandler unsightly spots are there? We're looking for what you think is the worst eyesore in the city.
First, some ground rules. This should be something that a significant number of people are likely to see and wonder about — so don't pick on your neighbor's messy lawn.
Let us know where the eyesore is and any details. Snap a photo if you can.
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