August 30, 2004
Developers of the planned Tempe Marketplace say they are on track to break ground on the 200-acre outdoor shopping center early next year in spite of landowners who are refusing to give any ground.
Steve Larcher, executive vice president of Vestar, said his company is on pace to begin construction in January despite falling short of acquiring the land necessary for the project.
"The vast majority of the land we have, which is more than enough to do the project," Larcher said late last week.
The planned outdoor shopping and entertainment center near McClintock Drive and Rio Salado Parkway requires 50 parcels of land, according to blueprints of the project. Right now, the company needs 24, city officials said.
Larcher said Vestar could move forward and complete the project using the land already acquired.
He added that would require revisions as well as more money.
Negotiations with property owners continue, but many have rejected previous offers, vowing never to sell.
The holdout could force a showdown with the city. Earlier this year, the City Council authorized the use of eminent domain to seize the land if negotiations failed.
In late June, the city sent offers, giving property owners the chance to accept, reject or counter the bid.
Marlene Pontrelli, an attorney for Tempe, said the
developers have not asked the city to step in and seize the property.
The City Council in May approved an agreement that includes tens of millions of dollars to build the $225 million mall.
Additionally, Mesa recently announced plans to build a competing mall two miles east of the proposed Tempe Marketplace, threatening to take business away from the center.
Any delay in construction could hinder efforts to recruit businesses with a strong draw, according to the Urban Land Institute.
But Vestar representatives disagree, saying they have not lost any business to the planned Mesa mall.
Developers say they have filled nearly 75 percent of the available retail space with businesses such as Dave & Buster’s and an 18-screen Harkins movie complex.