Tempe commission holds special meeting on proposed Coyotes entertainment district

The Arizona Coyotes want to switch the zoning map from commercial zoning to mixed-use for the $2.1 billion Tempe entertainment district.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 10:10 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Tempe Development Review Commission held a special meeting this evening to discuss changes from the Arizona Coyotes in their pursuit to build a new entertainment district near Tempe Town Lake.

The commission voted unanimously to approve zoning changes proposed by the Coyotes, with the key one switching a majority of the proposed district site from commercial zoning to mixed-use. “It’s the perfect location with respect to the Valley itself to serve the Valley,” Coyotes attorney Nick Wood said.

As Wood laid out proposed plans for the Coyotes’ new $2.1 billion entertainment district, he mentioned everything from shared parking options with nearby businesses to where the arena, living spaces, and other amenities will be located.

But more than anything, Wood expressed Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo’s vision that this will transform the Tempe Town Lake area and the entire city. “To create something that’s extremely unique, extremely special,” Wood said. “Something that doesn’t otherwise exist here in Arizona.”

The proposed entertainment district will be broken up into two phases. One includes the arena, practice facility, and smaller hotel, residential, and office space. The other phase includes the majority of retail stores, living spaces, and the opportunities that come with them.

“Our projections currently right now are that there will be 6900 permanent jobs,” Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said. “One of the things we’re excited about this is that the range of jobs are pretty significant. You will have service jobs, we have retail workers, we have food workers. There is going to be a mix.”

That’s why the Coyotes are pushing to change how this land is used from commercial to mixed-use, including nearly two-thousand residential units. The city of Phoenix says making this a residential district violates a nearly 30-year intergovernmental agreement between the two cities and the flight patterns for Sky Harbor Airport. And they’re not the only ones concerned about developing this space.

“We are just going to be horrifically impacted in a number of ways,” Tempe resident Philip Yates said. “When there is an event, it is going to mess up the afternoon rush hour in Tempe, bigger than it is already,” Phoenix resident Andrew Marwick added.

The Coyotes will present their project proposal next Tuesday. Then, a week later, on November 29th, the Tempe City Council will vote to send it to that public referendum on May 16th. If approved, the public would finally get to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the district.