A town meeting took place Tuesday to discuss the disposition of multiple development projects along Mill Ave that involve the construction of condominiums and retail outlets. Particularly the failed two-tower Centerpoint Condos and the now-expired development promise by Avenue Communities, LLC to redevelop the Hayden Flour Mill. Maybe they’ll think of something smarter to do with the flour mill than turning it into more undistinguished retail space.
Or maybe not.
Tempe Marketplace is sucking away the power of corporate retail from Mill Ave. While the light rail brings in more foot traffic, people are really not interested in the same, stale mallfed outlets that they can get at the marketplace. They never have been looking to Mill for that anyway. The current condominiums are grossly undersold and still hideously expensive.
Developing Mill Ave is going to be a feat of culture, not one of ugly buildings that will further go unused.
Fortunately, the meeting talks also centered around brining businesses into the vacant glass windows that loom large on the Ave like the shattered legs of the Colossus.
“In downtown Tempe, the Borders book store, Harkins Theater, an Islands restaurant, the Bamboo Club and a host of other retail businesses and restaurants are gone. And so far, the empty store fronts aren't getting refilled. The vacant buildings aren't just an economic indicator that the recession has hit downtown Tempe.” No, they’re also a sign of badly planned development timed against things obviously yet to come. Smarter projects than these saw the climate and bailed before they even got started—the fact that some of these went ahead in spite of this is just glaring stupidity.
Even with the housing market booming the condos on Mill had been undersold by giant margins. There was no interest. People built them—nobody came. And so the thoughts were to build more? What kind of foolish lookahead is that? Someone should have told some of these developers to go jump in Tempe Town Lake.
Mill Avenue Jewlers is being added to the list of closed businesses.
“Still, Hormann acknowledges that the loss of the hope that hundreds of condominium owners would flood downtown has forced the city to consider more realistic goals to keep the area afloat. ” I like how the word “realistic” is just an afterthought here. Hundreds of condominium owners flooding into Tempe revealed itself as a scintillating fantasy the moment the first sycophantic politico unveiled it as a solution. Where would they come from? Scottsdale?
But wait, there is someone smart being interviewed for this article?
“Perez encouraged the city to partner with Arizona State University to bring free entertainment and art to the area. ‘There are so many students that would love to show their art out here. It wouldn't cost anything. They have art shows all the time at malls. Why not do that here?’ she said.”
Well holy crap! Someone with brains! And, wait for it, she works on Mill Ave. Why is it that every time I see development occurring, decisions being made, and often waving about by Tempe officials that they do so without consulting the street itself? It’s as if they don’t notice that the very beating heart, the fire under glass, is there in the community—and not in their boardroom coffee cups.
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