SkySong site slowly coming into focus - East Valley Tribune: News

SkySong site slowly coming into focus

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Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 6:10 am | Updated: 6:59 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The first SkySong building is scheduled to be completed in two weeks and will welcome tenants in October, bringing new life to the longvacant former Los Arcos Mall site in south Scottsdale.

SkySong projected milestones

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The high-tech research and office center has also recently announced a construction schedule for two additional commercial buildings. They would feature first-floor retail stores with offices and research space on the upper floors, a 325-unit apartment complex and a parking garage — all of which is projected to be completed within three years.

Construction on the 37-acre site at the southeast corner of Scottsdale and McDowell roads — once the proposed home of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey arena and later a subsidized Wal-Mart-anchored shopping center — has been largely sealed off from public view with a shaded chain-link fence until the first building began to rise. That image, however, is about to change, SkySong spokeswoman Michele Irwin said.

“Once people start seeing the landscaping, it will be a whole new look,” Irwin said.

By September, much of the landscaping will be done, followed in October by the first building’s largest tenant — Arizona State University — moving in. A previous timeline had ASU moved in by the start of its fall semester.

The signature SkySong shade structure and other street furniture, lighting and paving are expected to go in early next year, followed by the second commercial building’s occupancy about a year from now.

Supporters have predicted not only the success of the center itself, but that its presence and high-tech workers will help revitalize south Scottsdale. Critics have argued that expectations are overblown and the city made a poor investment.

Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross, one of the strongest backers of the city’s roughly $80 million commitment to the project — that could possibly rise to closer to $120 million with interest — said she is pleased so far with SkySong’s progress.

“It’s moving quite rapidly for a project of that size,” Manross said. “The community is so anxious to see it done.”

SkySong is a collaboration of Scottsdale, ASU and private developers. At build-out, the project is expected to have 1.2 million square feet of office, research and retail space along with a hotel.

In addition to ASU, the first four-story, 157,000-square-foot office building to be completed this month will be home to Arizona Technology Council, eFunds Corp., Qwest Communications and Wildfire Broadband Wireless Communications Inc.

Irwin said at this time eFunds — which last month was acquired by Fidelity National Information Services — still has a signed letter of intent.

International companies from Singapore, China, Turkey, Germany and Mexico will also have a presence. SkySong must complete the first building by Aug. 1 to comply with its 99-year lease with the city.

No tenants have been announced for the second commercial building, which will mirror the first across an east-west street that will run through the project. That building must be completed by 2010 to comply with terms of the lease.

Construction on a parking garage is set to start in the fall and be ready by spring or summer 2008.

A 325-unit apartment complex, which will wrap around the garage, is expected to start construction in 2008 and be completed in 2009.

And finally, an additional commercial building, which like the first two will be about 150,000 square feet, has not been designed and will still need approval from the city. Construction is expected to start on that building by 2009.

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