City Hall

Phoenix Seeks Plans for Downtown Observation Tower; "The Pin" Would Rise 420 Feet and Charge Fee for Visitors

The city of Phoenix is taking a step toward the possibility of having a 420-foot observation tower built with private funds in the downtown district, issuing a call for detailed plans for the project.

Last week, the online news site wrote about Phoenix's recent issuance of an "RFP" -- for non-wonks, that's a request for proposal -- for "development and operation of entertainment and tourism attractions." Los-Angles-based writer Guy Horton speculated that the RFP meant that Phoenix was getting serious about the tower, nicknamed "the Pin" by its designers. Eric Johnson, the economic development program manager for Phoenix, agrees with that assessment.

See also: Guggenheim-Inspired Observation Tower Proposed for Downtown Phoenix

The RFP doesn't actually state that Phoenix wants an observation tower, but was "in response to" the plan set forth in December by Phoenix-based developer Novawest for the Pin. It's the official call to developers that will allow city planners and the public to learn more details about the proposed $60 million project, which could be built near the Arizona Science Center at Sixth and Adams streets.

The proposed tower was designed by Netherlands-based architecture design firm Bjarke Ingels Group for Novawest and features Guggenheim-Museum-style spiral walkways with an overall "honey-dipper" appearance. Architectural illustrations indicate that the open-air, multi-level observation platform will include screens to prevent the Pin from becoming a haven for suicidal jumpers. Naturally, the illustrations don't feature the Valley's infamous Brown Cloud, which would be among the most noticeable landmarks able to to be seen from the tower, or when looking at it from afar.

Retail and office space would be available at the tower's base, and Pinheads, as the Pin's users might be called, would pay a fee for the privilege of viewing Phoenix from a few hundred feet up.

Johnson says the RFP could bring in plans for another project -- a TV and entertainment museum.

Or maybe other developers have ideas for some exciting plan for downtown Phoenix -- perhaps the country's second-biggest ball of twine?

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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.