Tempe - lets steal the land where poor people live and give it to developers to build places for yuppies to live. Sounds like the City of Tempe has found a great way to run poor people out of town!


10-story condo project planned for blighted area of Tempe

Katie Nelson The Arizona Republic Feb. 13, 2006 12:00 AM

It will take years before sleek light-rail cars slide through the Valley. But rail-inspired redevelopment is already cropping up in a long-ignored section of Tempe.

A 10-story condominium complex may be built in a desolate area of the city, along the same street where police see the highest concentration of prostitution and blight.

The portion of Apache Boulevard that straddles Loop 101 is covered with a smattering of empty lots, trailer-home parks and small businesses, some of them boarded up or run-down. And while there are appealing aspects, such as a tasty mix of ethnic restaurants and an active community center, city leaders and residents have long stewed over how to rejuvenate the area.

The city has taken steps to revitalize the locale, such as investing in a fire department headquarters and a new police substation, which broke ground in December. Despite those efforts, the section of the boulevard has received little attention from private developers.

But now, the new Tempe Union Station Lofts project is proposed.

If it is ultimately given the go-ahead by the City Council, it would be the first upscale private investment in that part of the boulevard in years. The public will get its first glimpse of the multiuse buildings proposal tonight at the city's Apache Boulevard Project Area Committee meeting. It still has to go through the Planning and Zoning Commission before going before the City Council.

The Lofts' backers are hoping to cash in on middle-income folks who will be lured by easy access to two light-rail-line stops and the Loop 101 freeway, only a half-mile away.

"Light rail is going to change the perception of how people get around," said Steve Barduson, the project's architect. "And while there is probably nowhere lower on the food chain in Tempe than Apache right now, we're banking on what it could be."

If it materializes, the project would take up three lots and replace Tradewinds, a decaying batch of tiny apartments and trailer homes now at 1900 E. Apache Boulevard. The new buildings, one 10 stories and one five, would include more than 400 condominiums or live/work spaces, underground parking and retail with space for a restaurant. The design will be aimed at recent college graduates, baby boomers in the market for a second home and anyone else looking to shun suburbia for an urban lifestyle, Barduson said.

Lately, project proposals like this aren't rare, said Phil Amarose, chairman of the Apache Boulevard Project Area Committee. But he doesn't take them lightly and hopes the proposals are a sign of what is to come thanks to light rail.

"Apache has to change over from being an old state highway, which is contributing to the deterioration," Amarose said. "You need something to inject this new feel for the area."

The Tempe Union Station Lofts could be a step toward that new look, he said.

"Some of the people say they want it the way it was," he added. "But for every one of them there are nine boarded-up businesses. Change of some magnitude is coming as fast as those light-rail cars are coming. We need to keep up with it."

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