ASU’s 13-story downtown Phoenix dorms six months ahead of schedule

Posted By Mike Padgett

Jan. 16, 2009

The second phase of Arizona State University’s 13-story dormitory project in downtown Phoenix is within days of completion, which is six months ahead of schedule.

The upper-classmen building of the Taylor Place dorms was to be complete in mid-2009. But general contractor Austin Commercial accelerated that date by six months by streamlining its construction schedule, says Chad Izmirian, senior vice president of Capstone Development. The twin building next door for freshmen students opened in August 2008, about 18 months after work started.

Capstone is an Alabama-based company that “has partnered with 55 colleges or universities to develop 31,000 beds of on-campus housing” as well as providing management services for 15,000 beds of on-campus housing on 19 campuses, according to Capstone’s Web site.

Taylor Place, at 13 stories, dominates the skyline at Taylor and First streets in downtown Phoenix. The high-rise dorms are owned by Downtown Phoenix Student Housing LLC, a not-for-profit company that sold bonds to pay for the $120 million development. Capstone was hired to develop and manage the project until the debt is repaid. At that time, ASU becomes the owner. Management of the dorms is a collaboration between ASU and Capstone.

Freshmen students started moving into Taylor Place’s first building in August, when the fall semester started. It has 744 beds, with two beds per room. Although the second building will be finished around the end of this month, it will remain vacant until the start of the fall semester. It has 540 beds in two-bedroom suites.

“Student housing really only has one move-in period, which is the beginning of the fall semester,” Izmirian says. “Therefore, T2 (the second dorm) will sit idle until there is demand or need, which will be fall 2009.”

Izmirian adds that leasing activity for the second dorm is under way “as a number of (freshmen) students have indicated their desire to return for next year.” Also popular is the cafeteria, which is open to the public during the school year.

The Taylor Place development, which is one block east of the new light rail line, consists of two buildings with 352,000 square feet. That includes 11,000 square feet of street-level retail space, in which are a Starbucks and a convenience store. Two more spaces are vacant, and Capstone is “close to finalizing a lease contract for a restaurant” in one of those spaces, Izmirian says.

Taylor Place’s architect is SmithGroup’s Phoenix office. The lead designer is Mark Kranz at SmithGroup. The general contractor is Austin Commercial, also in Phoenix. Austin Commercial deserves credit for trimming six months from the construction schedule, says Eddie Garcia, SmithGroup’s principal-in-charge of the project.

Garcia says Taylor Place’s overall design and amenities make it look like something other than a dormitory or a low-income housing project. He says its exterior design, its landscaping, the street-level retail space and the shade garden facing First Street produce an environment friendly to student residents as well as visitors and passersby.

“The composition of the building doesn’t make it your typical student housing project that you’d see on a campus,” Garcia says. “This is an urban infill project for a campus that’s emerging in this new downtown dialogue. It has ground-floor retail, it has shade elements for the pedestrians, and then it has the identity of the tower itself, by using these colored metal panels and overhangs on the windows and these outdoor spaces so that students can gather and be part of adding to this 24/7 lifestyle.”


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Jan 16th, 2009

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