March 5, 2009
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Anticipating an eventual market turnaround in metropolitan Phoenix, three veteran entrepreneurs are launching a new downtown real estate office to market, among other things, high-rise residential condos.
Developer Julian Blum, real estate agent Leslie Dockter and public relations/entrepreurial maven Francine Hardaway have opened their Infill Realty Services office at 204 N. Central Ave., in the Hotel San Carlos. They are hosting a grand opening of their new office on March 19, from 5 to 8 p.m.
The trio’s invitation says their company will be specializing in high rise units for resale. It says: “There may never be a better time to buy in downtown Phoenix because the fruits of decades of public and private investment, including new hotels, the Phoenix Convention Center, Arizona State University’s downtown campus, and a light rail system, are now visible.”
Infill Realty’s office is just around the corner from 44 Monroe, a 34-story condominium building with 202 units. However, like many residential developments, the eye-catching building – which is the tallest residential building in Arizona – has been impacted by the current economic freefall in Arizona and the nation. Blum says Infill Realty will be working with 44 Monroe’s developers and brokers to market condos in that development and others downtown.
“We’re hiring agents and we’re trying to build a business down here,” Blum says. “It’s a time to get started.”
He adds that, despite the depressed prices, people “are not readily buying anything that isn’t almost a steal. But we think times are changing, and we’re going to be here on the ground floor when it comes back.”
Blum has been involved with property redevelopment in Phoenix since the 1980s. One of his first proposals was redeveloping 13 acres on Central Avenue north of Indian School Road. The land remains vacant.
In the early 1980s, Blum promoted a proposal called Square One, a specialty shopping center between Washington and Adams streets, and Central and First Street. That project eventually was rejected by the city council. Later, the city council approved another downtown shopping proposal called Arizona Center, which was built between Van Buren, Fillmore, Third and Fifth streets.
Blum also built 10 townhomes on Culver Street, between Third and Fifth avenues, north of Hance Park. The cluster housing development is called Lorna Park View Estates. His other projects included remodeling the federal Housing and Urban Development building downtown, which he later sold.
“I’ve had a lot of good experiences and I know a lot of people downtown,” Blum says. “I’m also an investor in the 44 Monroe. I put a syndication together and we bought a couple units in there.
“Unfortunately, things aren’t going well for the high rises down here,” he continues. “They’ve not done as well as anticipated because of the financing problem.”
Hardaway says that when the Arizona economy rebounds, downtown Phoenix is better positioned to recover faster than before, thanks to the expanded convention center, the new light rail system, ASU’s expanded downtown campus, and the new 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel. Hardaway’s Web site is www.stealthmodepartners.com.
“I walked around downtown earlier this week and I was stunned by what we’ve accomplished,” Hardaway says. “Everything I wrote about for (real estate broker) Ron Bookbinder in the ‘80s is built, and then some.”
She adds that the new achievements “reminded me of previous eras, in which the people who did the pioneering work got all the arrows in their backs, and the next generation made all the money. Well, the next generation of people who live and invest downtown will make all the money, because all the grunt work is done.”
Blum says Infill Realty Services is linked to Dockter’s Web site, www.downtownphoenixrealestate.com.
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