Tempe City Council votes to continue talks

Tempe City Council voted 5-2 Thursday to enter negotiations with the Arizona Coyotes and their developer over plans for the NHL’s new arena and entertainment district.

A “yes” vote does not support the on-site Coyotes Circuit on the Brest Road and Rio Salado Parkway. However, it is providing advance plans between the city and the team to move forward with planning for the hockey arena, as well as hotel, office, retail and residential spaces.

A “no” vote meant Tempe rejected the plans from Coyotes and Bluebird Development, LLC. According to Tempe’s press release last week, the city council “can then choose to issue a new call for proposals at this location.”

“We are very pleased that Tempe City Council has voted to move forward with negotiations on the development of Tempe Recreational District,” the Coyotes family said in a statement.

“Having heard all the facts, they realized the amazing opportunity this project presents – not only for the wolves but also for the city of Tempe. We look forward to taking the next steps to turn this exciting vision into a reality.”

Now that the city council has voted to move to the formal negotiation stage, it could take several months before the plans are approved. Public input via open meetings will be an important part of that process.

Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said before the vote at about 10 p.m. Thursday that he hoped the city council would move forward with negotiations with Coyotes and its developer. He wanted to have more time to listen to the audience about whether they supported or opposed the proposal in the name of continuing the conversation.

Councilwoman Doreen Garlid, who voted against the plan, said she had concerns that Tempe rushed a request for proposals (RFP) that launched the Coyotes’ initial plans for their theme park.

She said the land for development is one of the last large plots the city can develop because it is landlocked and wants more public input before making a decision.

Sky Harbor International Airport released a statement Thursday after voting to enter the negotiation phase:

“As two neighboring cities, Phoenix and Tempe have a longstanding tradition of working together for the benefit of the entire community,” the statement said. “We understand Tempe’s desire to develop this land east of the airport, and Phoenix Sky Harbor does not conflict with the development of the Tempe recreational area as a whole. Our concern was and remains with the proposed residential rise that would violate the terms of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA of 1994) between Phoenix and Tempe.

If the apartment building is not removed from the project, it jeopardizes the entire agreement. For nearly three decades, this agreement has helped reduce the harmful effects of noise on the residents of Tempe. We are optimistic that a mutually beneficial solution can be found that ensures compatible land use in the noisy areas just below the Sky Harbor flight paths. “

The Coyotes family said they would invest $1.7 billion in private money to convert the land that was once a landfill into a yard, a training facility that will have ice available to the public, as well as retail, hospitality, offices and about 1,500 housing units. It will cost an estimated $200 million to clean the site and prepare the infrastructure before construction begins.

The proposal includes a plan to find the necessary funds “without raising taxes or using existing city revenues by issuing public infrastructure bonds sold to private investors”, According to the project proposal website.

NHL club owned by Alex Meruelo The district’s entertainment projects could create nearly 7,000 jobs in Tempe and generate $180 million for the city alone over 30 years, Among other benefits.

Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said in a city council presentation Thursday that he was “confident” there was support from Tempe residents for the entertainment district after the team surveyed a potential move to the city.

The City of Tempe was analyzing proposed plans from Coyote submitted on September 2, 2021.

In April, the city council asked Tempe employees to “request clarifications from the project proponent on a number of matters”.

Those included concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport about building heights, heights of construction cranes and noise caused by air traffic for future residents. The FAA, in a letter sent to Tempe City Manager the day before the city council vote, expressed concern about the noise level for residents regardless of construction improvements to turn off sound within the project’s proposed housing units.

Woods clarified Thursday night that a “yes” vote did not confirm that residential housing would be included in the recreation area.

The Coyotes finished their 19-year career at Gila River Arena in Glendale for the 2021-22 season, and will move into a temporary home at Arizona State University’s new multi-purpose arena over the next few years.

All of the Coyotes’ home games from 2022-23 through 2024-25 will be held at the ASU-owned arena, with an additional option for 2025-26, while the NHL club awaits approval and construction of the proposed permanent home along the south side of the Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe.

The 5,000-seat arena is scheduled to be completed early this fall.

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