Developers move forward with plans to build new high rise in Tempe

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

TEMPE, Ariz. -  Before the economy tanked, the area near Tempe Town Lake and Mill Avenue was a hot spot for development. Not just office buildings, but apartments and luxury condos. But over the last four years, some went bankrupt, never sold or leased, and sat empty.

The last time Tempe broke ground on a high rise, it was 2007, but 2012 could be the year the city gets back into the business of building.

"We are going to do our best in Tempe to continue to expand the economy, and that's what we're here to celebrate today," said Mayor Hugh Hallman at the project announcement Tuesday. He and the president of the development group Ryan Companies released plans to build phase three of Hayden Ferry Lakeside. A section of grass at the corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway will turn into a 10-story office building over the next two years. The mayor says Mill Avenue has a need for large office space.

"We've got the buildings behind us at 94 percent occupancy. The building immediately across the lake, Phoenix Gateway, is at 80 percent capacity," Hallman said. He also believes it would further connect people with other local business.

Michael Monti is running for mayor, but he also owns the restaurant Monti's which sits right across the street from where the new building will stand.

"That puts them right at my doorstep," he said. "I'll be able to throw a stone and hit that building over there!"

He says it's a huge win for those trying to make it on Mill Avenue.

"As a restaurateur, that means bodies on the street, people with expense accounts, a whole new wave of customers coming in!" Monti said.

So, are we finally turning a corner? Could this be one of the first signs that building is back? The City of Tempe just feels lucky to have a confident developer, ready to go.

"Now that the market is continuing to improve and the economy is starting to improve little by little, this is one of our first development efforts in the last few years," said John Strittmatter, president of Ryan Companies.

Strittmatter said the groundbreaking on the new building should happen sometime this year, with the opening sometime next year.