New project first high-rise office building in downtown Phoenix since 2001

Posted By Mike Padgett

Feb. 2, 2009

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Several new megabucks real estate projects have starred on downtown Phoenix’s redevelopment stage in recent years, but a new high-rise office building now is in the spotlight.

The One Central Park East building, with 485,000 square feet of office space, is 100 percent speculative. Its addition to the downtown skyline comes at a time of challenging economics nationwide, but it offers several advantages. The 26-story building’s large floor plates, which are preferred by major corporate users, offer nearly panoramic views of the Valley. It is next to Arizona State University’s downtown campus. It is adjacent to the new Metro light rail system. It is a short walk to the expanded Phoenix Convention Center, the new, 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel, the downtown sports arenas and a variety of restaurants and cultural sites.

“We’re almost redefining Main and Main,” says Todd Kindberg, senior vice president of Mesirow Financial, a development partner in the new building with National Electrical Benefit Fund. “This is where all the growth’s been downtown.”

The $175-million building at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren Street will be finished late this year. Work on the newest skyscraper in Phoenix started in October 2007. I joined Kindberg and lead architect Mark Roddy of SmithGroup’s Phoenix office for a recent tour of the building. We stopped at Holder Construction Co.’s office at the site to pick up our required hard hats and safety vests. Then we boarded the construction elevator attached to the north face of the 26-story building.

The new building’s topping-out ceremony was on the 18th floor Jan. 27. The ground floor has a lobby and 8,500 square feet of space for retail businesses. The building will have 600 parking spaces on floors two through 10. The top 16 floors offer 485,000 square feet for offices. The building has a total of 700,000 square feet of space, including the parking levels camouflaged from view by perforated aluminum panels.

Roddy says the building has the largest office floor plates in a high-rise building in Phoenix. Each of the office floors, with slightly more than 30,000 square feet, is more than half the size of a football field, which has 57,600 square feet.

As the elevator took us higher, stopping to let construction workers on or off, we received an expanding view of Phoenix north of downtown. Through the elevator’s perforated metal sides, we first could see over the tops of buildings. Then, Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak came into view. Finally, about 12 miles in the distance, we could see the Arizona Cardinals football arena in west Glendale near Glendale Avenue and Loop 101.

After we reached the top floor and the elevator door was raised, we stepped off and turned left. We walked around workers and between stacked building materials, headed for the east end of the building. There, we saw airliners landing and lining up to take off at Sky Harbor International Airport. Below us, to the south a few blocks, is Chase Field.

The 26-story project is the first high-rise office building added to the downtown real estate palette since the 1 North Central building was completed in 2001 at the northeast corner of Central and Washington Street. SmithGroup designed that building, too, as well as Arizona State University’s new Taylor Place dormitories at Taylor and First streets. SmithGroup also designed ASU’s College of Nursing and Healthcare Design, which is under construction at Fillmore and Third streets.

One of the unusual design elements of One Central Park East is its corner supports. They are set in a few feet, creating column-free corner offices. The design allows the addition of corner balconies on the top floor for a cantilevered effect.

The building’s south façade will have two horizontal shade fins per floor to minimize heat gain from exposure to the sun. The east and west facades will have vertical shade fins on five-foot centers. Shade fins will not be added to the building’s north façade, since it will receive little direct exposure to the sun. And to further reduce sun exposure, the tops and bottoms of the floor-to-ceiling glass are coated with tiny dots that block 15 percent of the sunlight, yet do not interfere with the views.

CB Richard Ellis’ Phoenix office has been chosen to find tenants for the building. Kindberg says law firms, banks and other large corporate users are likely tenants. Those companies prefer to have all their employees on one floor.

“We have several prospects, lead tenants we’re working with at this point, but not that we’re in a position to announce,” Kindberg says. “The larger tenants need to make decisions soon because they have the fewest choices, so we’re working diligently with them.”

Roddy adds: “This is the type of product that can attract tenants from a national perspective, not just from a local perspective.”

The building occupies one third of the block between Central and Van Buren, Fillmore and First streets. Mesirow officials have been talking with hotel companies about adding a major hotel on the property’s northwest corner, Kindberg says.

“We’re in discussions with one (hotel company) in particular for the corner here,” Kindberg says. “It’s all contingent on their financing.”

Originally, the master plan in 2006 included a 34-story residential condo tower, a 330,000-square-foot office building, and ASU’s new journalism school. But when the residential market softened and the prices of construction materials increased, the plan was reconfigured to its current status. The 330,000 square feet of office space was increased to 485,000 square feet, the condo was erased from the plan, and ASU relocated its new journalism school one block north to its current site, Kindberg says.


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Feb 2nd, 2009

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