Tempe purchasing land for light-rail system - East Valley Tribune: News

Tempe purchasing land for light-rail system

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Posted: Friday, June 6, 2003 11:47 pm | Updated: 1:00 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Tempe is starting the process of buying land, mostly along Apache Boulevard, for the Valley Metro light-rail system.

The city needs to acquire 12 properties, and officials sent letters this week alerting owners that appraisers will be out in full force this summer.

An additional 110 property owners whose land will be partially taken should receive notice soon, said Gregg Kent, principal civil engineer.

The letters should not come as a surprise to most owners. They have received notifications for some time that light-rail construction in Tempe is scheduled to begin next summer.

And while Tempe will begin buying properties this summer, it will continue to rent to current occupants until construction begins, Kent said.

But for Mick Spasojevic, the 11-year owner of Champions Sports Bar, 1825 E. Apache Blvd., the letter he received this week is a reminder that he's going to have to move — and there's little he can do about it.

"I'm established there," he said. "I've got a pretty good thing going."

City appraisers made a trip to Champions a few weeks ago, he said, and they told him he should have an appraisal some time this summer. He plans to move his business out of Tempe, Spasojevic said.

Tempe plans to buy several properties near his bar on the southeast corner of McClintock Drive and Apache Boulevard, where a massive park and ride is planned for light-rail commuters. The area includes a Firestone Tire and Service Center, 1805 E. Apache Blvd., and a neighboring warehouse.

Not all business owners are so upset. Richard Wootten, owner of Rental World, 2319 E. Apache Blvd., said he loves his 30-year location at Loop 101 and Apache Boulevard. Still, he said, he also likes the idea of public transportation.

"I wouldn't mind if we could stay close to the 101," he said. "We're starting to look around and see what other properties are in the area."

He'll likely stay in Tempe, he said, "but finding as good of a location with as good of rent will be the trick."

The city must clear out six properties near Loop 101 to make room for another parking lot, though Kent said Tempe has already bought several small parcels there.

The most high-profile property Tempe likely will acquire is the corporate offices of the Fiesta Bowl, 120 S. Ash Ave. Tempe officials already have started to work with bowl officials to keep the bowl's headquarters in Tempe.

Along Rural Road, Tempe plans to buy an empty Bank One building, 915 S. Rural Road, and, at 903 S. Rural Road, a strip mall that houses a Domino's Pizza and restaurant Cafe Istanbul, among other businesses.

Tempe officials said they will work to make the moves as painless as possible by paying moving costs, helping to find new locations and helping businesses retain customers during the construction.

"Of course we would like for them to stay in Tempe if at all possible," said transportation spokeswoman Amanda Nelson.

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