Six years after construction began, and following nearly three years of inactivity, one of the towers at Sixth Street and Maple Avenue in Tempe will welcome its first residents on Monday.
The project began in 2005 as the overly ambitious Centerpoint Condominium towers, a brainchild of developer Ken Losch and his partners at Avenue Communities/Tempe Land Company. As New Times detailed in a 2009 feature article, "Concrete Bungle," work on the tallest buildings in the East Valley stalled in July of 2008 as the economy crashed. Besides the recession, though, the project suffered from a partnership with the unconventional lender Mortgages Ltd., run by millionaire playboy Scott Coles.
The condo towers were the lender's biggest single project, and Coles committed suicide on June 1, just hours after Losch called to tell him that Tempe Land Company planned to file for bankruptcy. For the next two-and-a-half years, the towers sat unfinished in Tempe as dark, hulking reminders of the bad economy.
Investors had sunk an estimated $180 million into the five-acre property and towers, then sold everything to Zaremba Group of Ohio in February for just $30 million. The condo idea was tossed in favor of a high-rise apartment complex now called West 6th Tempe.
Zaremba just finished off the shorter, 22-story tower and signed leases on nearly all of its 189 units. On Monday, the renters will finally arrive.
"We have confirmation from quite a few of them that they'll be there with their U-Haul trucks, ready to move in," says Angie Miller, spokeswoman for the company.
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman is expected to be at the site at 10 a.m. on Monday to talk about the significance of the project to the city.
For sure, the hundreds of new residents will add life to Mill Avenue, which has suffered in recent years because of the economy and the opening of Tempe Marketplace.
Tower 2, which stands at 30 stories, is still expected to open by the end of the year along with retail stores and a movie theater.
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