The Business Journal of Phoenix - March 10, 2006
by Mike Padgett
In a major metropolitan region where about 30 percent of condominium buildings never get off the drawing boards, two Canadian companies are proposing the granddaddy of all condo projects just a few blocks north of downtown Phoenix.
The two-phase Copper Pointe Condominiums proposal has three 40-story buildings, one at the southeast corner of Fillmore Street and Third Avenue, and two others northwest of Third Avenue and Van Buren Street.
The proposal is the work of Pointe of View Developments of Calgary, Alberta, and Mentor Properties of Toronto, Ontario.
Despite the number of condo projects that never see the light of day, Pointe of View Vice President David MacKenzie and Mentor Properties co-founder Cal DeSouza said their proposal is real, not a market test.
Stand next to the developers' sign on the Fillmore and Third property, and it's easy to see that, if built, the three towers would alter the downtown skyline. They would rival Chase Tower at Van Buren Street and Central Avenue as the tallest buildings in the state.
The key word in this new scenario is "if," because the developers plan to ask the city of Phoenix for some form of financial help.
The companies purchased the property in late 2005. They plan to demolish the buildings on the east side of Third Avenue, starting in late March.
MacKenzie said he isn't concerned about the growing number of condominium proposals in central and downtown Phoenix, many of which he and others said won't be built. His confidence is based on his company's achievements -- Pointe of View has several multifamily developments completed and under construction in western Canada. It also is a partner in the proposed Cave Creek Resort & Casitas north of Phoenix, and it is starting a 41-story condo building in downtown San Diego.
Pointe of View has other projects lining up in San Diego, Orange County, Calif., and Inverness, Colo., a Denver suburb.
MacKenzie's partner in the downtown Phoenix proposal is Mentor Properties, owned by brothers Cal and Frank DeSouza, who have been converting Valley apartments into condos since 1991.
Phoenix officials, as skeptical as anyone and whose files are filled with condo proposals that never got off the ground, said the Copper Pointe proposal appears genuine.
MacKenzie said he's heard the critics of Copper Pointe, and he isn't surprised.
"I know people have said, 'Here's another guy downtown,'" MacKenzie said, patiently brushing off the skepticism. "We hear that all the time. But we have a track record, and people will see that. And once they see that we're going to be demolishing, I think people will begin to see that we're real."
MacKenzie said there is a caveat: He and his partners will ask Phoenix to help pay for the development.
"I know the city doesn't have any money to do anything, but you don't have to have money," MacKenzie said. "They (the city) can make concessions in other ways, and that's what we're looking for."
Those concessions could be in the form of tax deferments or off-site improvements, such as street upgrades or utility access.
Although final designs and price ranges are not yet available, MacKenzie's tentative construction numbers of about $400 a square foot translate into more than $250,000 for a 660-square-foot one-bedroom condo.
The prices will be aimed at workers in central and downtown Phoenix who want to live near their jobs, instead of spending part of their time and income for commuting.
Project looks Legitimate
The Copper Pointe proposal would surround O'Neil Printing's facilities at 366 N. Second Ave., but O'Neil's General Manager Tony Narducci said the company -- which has been at that site since the 1950s -- isn't concerned. He said condo proposals today have a better chance of becoming reality because of the downtown redevelopment projects.
"I would be surprised if it didn't happen," Narducci said. "The timing (for condos) is much better than it ever has been."
Downtown officials use the word "pretenders" in referring to developers who circulate eye-catching designs for high-rise condo buildings, take names of prospective buyers but then later decide they can't get the idea off the drawing board. At this time, downtown officials said the Copper Pointe proposal is ambitious, but they don't consider it a pretender.
"The good news is, they are a real developer and they are doing some other things in San Diego," said John Chan, interim director of the Downtown Development Office.
"It's early in the process, so we'll have to see how their marketing goes," said Downtown Phoenix Partnership President and Chief Executive Brian Kearney. "I don't put it in the 'pretenders' category."
MacKenzie and Pointe of View President and CEO Randy Klapstein visited Phoenix officials in late 2005 to promote their high-rise proposal.
"You can't ignore guys who are actually building things around the West," said Phoenix Community Alliance President Donald Keuth. "These guys have built stuff.
Monday, March 27, 2006
The Business Journal of Phoenix - March 10, 2006