City could respond quickly to help raze Elevation Chandler
By Luci ScottThe Republic | azcentral.com Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:10 AM
A city official says Elevation Chandler could be torn down immediately if the owner, California-based Point Center Financial, were to give the go-ahead.
“We will issue a demolition permit for that structure tomorrow if Mr. Esparza would like to come pick one up,” said Chandler planning administrator Jeff Kurtz.
“There’s nothing in our process stopping anybody from tearing that down.”
Rene Esparza, an executive at Point Center, said that the company has not had engineering reports done on the structure, the skeleton of which has stood unfinished for seven years.
“I know the city would love to have that structure torn down, but we took the position of leaving it and letting any prospective buyer do their own report and deciding whether they wanted to keep it,” Esparza said.
“We realize it’s still an eyesore, but you just never know. Some prospective buyer might want to use what’s there.”
Point Center has signed a contract with a potential buyer, Houston-based Hines, which wants to build 330 apartments on the 10.5 acres northwest of the Loop 101/Loop 202 interchange and on the southern edge of Chandler Fashion Center.
City Council members say that the site calls for something special.
“It’s hard for me to say at this point whether or not I would vote for apartments,” said Vice Mayor Jack Sellers.
“That’s one of the premier sites in our city and … I’m really anxious to see that site cleaned up. I really think it’s a key site and hopefully whoever does a development on that site is going to do it justice.”
Council member Trinity Donovan said it was premature for her to form an opinion about a use for the site because she also hasn’t seen any plans.
“I hesitate to be unequivocal without seeing their plans,” she said. “That is a key intersection for the city and it’s in a great location with retail nearby, and it’s at the edge of the Price Corridor. It will be an important corner for us to look at as we’re planning undeveloped land in Chandler.”
City Council member Nora Ellen said she is not in favor of apartments on the site. She envisions offices and retail.
“We have plenty of other places right now where apartment complexes are going up, and those are good locations,” she said.
Ellen added that she is waiting for a report on a study done by an outside consultant on the Price Corridor, which is due soon. And she’s also eager to see developers’ proposals for the Elevation Chandler parcel.
“We’d sure like to have developers approach us with their vision of what they’d like to do,” she said. “We’re open for business.”
Council member Jeff Weninger said that he does not want to tell a private developer what has to go on the site but that “as long as people have been waiting on that site, it needs to be something pretty great.”
He said he would not want to see only multi-family housing there.
“If you come in with a very cool mixed-use project, then I think we could talk.”
City Council member Rick Heumann described the location as “a prime, prime site” and that he envisions something special.
“Does that mean apartments couldn’t be part of the mix? Probably not, but it has to be something special, not just a multi-family project,” he said. “The land is just way too valuable.”
The initial plan was for a hotel topped by luxury condos, an upscale gym and a second tower of condos. Then the developer lost financing and went bankrupt.
Heumann said 200 or 300 apartments on the site would not generate a lot of tax revenue for the city and that he envisions the site as an office complex or office and retail.
He said would not jump at the first proposal that comes along, much as he hates the abandoned structure.
“Everybody hates that building,” he said. “I voted against it. I don’t want to grab the first thing that comes along just because we want that building torn down. I want to see something that’s unique and really serves Chandler’s needs.”