CityScape Project in Downtown Phoenix to Celebrate "Topping Out" Milestone, But Office Space Market Still Shaky

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon will help celebrate the "topping out" of a new, city-subsidized office tower downtown this Thursday.

With the state of the Valley's office space market, though, we couldn't help but wonder if the festivity will include a large, neon "Vacancy" sign for the roof.

Our suggestion elicits an honest chuckle from Jay Thorne, spokesman for the CityScape project. "I can't blame you for saying that," says Thorne in a brief phone call this afternoon.

The building is scheduled to open in March. Three months ago, it lost planned anchor tenant Wachovia Bank. Office space vacancy is expected to reach 24 percent in the Valley this year, according to a June Associated Press article.

However, CityScape is doing way better than average in filling its 620,000 square feet of space, Thorne says.

"It's pushing towards 70 percent leased," he says. "It's a pretty nice success story."

Of course, part of that success comes after last year's downsizing of the whole project. One thousand condo units and a hotel are among the plans that blew away with the dustbowl-like housing market.

Still, city boosters have high hopes the high-stakes project at Central Avenue and Washington will add to the vitality of downtown Phoenix and synergize with the nearby light-rail line. The project is getting more than $100 million in city subsidies.

With that kind of backing, no wonder it's beating the odds.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.