City Hall

Steve Ellman's Camelback Corridor Project, and Ties to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon's Girlfriend

Phoenix's Steve Ellman is an international developer with a commercial real estate empire spanning more than 12 million square feet of retail, entertainment, and office space.

Ellman is among the largest owners of real estate in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

So why did Ellman hire Elissa Mullany, former fundraiser and current girlfriend of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, in 2009?

Neither Mullany nor Ellman returned phone calls seeking comment.

What we do know is that Ellman wants his redevelopment project near 27th Street and Camelback Road to move successfully through the city's planning process. Ellman is listed as a manager of the project, dubbed 2747 Camelback, LLC.

Making that happen will be the challenge.

Neighborhood leaders in the Camelback corridor say Reid Butler, another developer who frequently works with Ellman, has tried to negotiate on Ellman's behalf for an extra two stories of height for the building. The height in that area is now capped at 56 feet.

But neighborhood representatives already had wrapped up negotiations with Jim Riggs, while he and Ellman were partners on that Camelback project. Ellman apparently bought out Riggs and now wants to scrap specific project restrictions that everyone agreed to, including how tall the building can be.

Neighborhood leaders are not budging.

Ellman's repeated and unsuccessful attempts to break the previous commitments leaves some neighborhood representatives wondering whether Ellman hired Mullany to grease the political wheels to get what he wants.

While Mullany worked for Ellman, she arranged dinner meetings between him and Gordon. She also traveled to Qatar with Gordon.

According to Gordon's calendar, Ellman sat in on economic development meetings in the Mayor's Office, had dinner with Gordon and a Saudi Arabia oil mogul, and traveled to Mexico, where he was included in meetings Gordon had with Mexican officials and relatives of billionaire Carlos Slim.

While neighborhood activists in the Camelback corridor don't have Ellman's deep pockets or Gordon's extensive political contacts, they are a force to be reckoned with. The crew of leaders successfully shot down Donald Trump in 2003 when he wanted to plop a 193-foot tower next to single-family homes. 

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo