Downtown Phoenix

The Tallest Building in Arizona Is Being Planned for the Same Block as Crescent Ballroom

Crescent Ballroom is located at 308 North Second Avenue.
Crescent Ballroom is located at 308 North Second Avenue. Lynn Trimble
A developer hoping to construct the tallest building in Arizona has started making the rounds, eager to convince Phoenix officials and community members to change height restrictions for the area where he wants to make it happen.

Geoffrey Jacobs plans to build a two-tower development called Astra on the east side of Second Avenue just south of Fillmore Street.

Regulars at the Crescent Ballroom know the area well; the downtown concert venue sits farther south on the block from the planned site, on the west side of Second Avenue just north of Van Buren Street.

If the project moves forward, patrons who look left as they leave Crescent Ballroom will see a 540-foot tower across the street, plus a shorter tower that’s part of the same project. That’s 15 feet higher than what’s currently allowed, and a whole lot taller than other buildings on the block.

Jacobs is a partner with Aspirant Development and principal with The Empire Group, both of Scottsdale. They’re familiar names for those who followed the historic preservation debacle at The Stewart, when parts of a building the developer agreed to save were demolished instead.

click to enlarge This Hugo Medina mural is located off the Lincoln Family YMCA parking lot. - LYNN TRIMBLE
This Hugo Medina mural is located off the Lincoln Family YMCA parking lot.
Lynn Trimble
This new development is planned for a long strip of land that’s currently home to the parking lot for the Lincoln Family YMCA. It runs from 333 to 337 North Second Avenue, which is about 200 feet south of the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Fillmore Street.

Nick Wood, the developer’s attorney, explained the basics at a June 8 meeting of the Central City Village planning committee. The committee won’t vote on whether to recommend the extra height until August 6, when community members will have a chance to offer feedback.

Currently, the tallest building in Arizona is Chase Tower, which was built in 1972. Located at 201 North Central Avenue, the tower is 483 feet tall.

The developer is already working with Solomon Coldwell Buenz (SCB), an international architecture, design, and planning firm that once worked with Studio Ma in Phoenix to renovate Manzanita Hall, a residential building for ASU students that’s distinguished by its stacked triangular windows.

click to enlarge Solomon Coldwell Buenz helped to renovate Manzanita Hall. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Solomon Coldwell Buenz helped to renovate Manzanita Hall.
Lynn Trimble
Wood showed conceptual elevations for the project during Monday’s meeting, noting that the specific design could change before Phoenix planners go through the formal plan review process.

The 540-foot tower is slated to include residences and a hotel, along with a restaurant and bar/lounge. A shorter tower would include office, retail, and co-living spaces. Both buildings feature predominantly concrete, metal, and glass.

The design calls for a wide paseo running between the building, and the developer has already talked with city officials about the possibility of adding a third traffic lane in the area.

Interested citizens can track the project through the city’s planning and development website. Pictures of other SCB designs, including a 35-story tower that broke ground in L.A.’s arts district in February, are available on the SCB website.

“We’re really excited about this project,” Wood told the planning committee Monday night. “These are going to be some special buildings." 
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble