The first seven floors of Elevation Chandler — a planned 10-story high-rise with condominiums, luxury hotel and health club next to Chandler Fashion Center — rose out of the ground in less than four months. Then nothing.
The highly visible shell of a structure has essentially remained untouched — except to remove some scaffolding — since April.
And that has people wondering.
“It’s a very obvious site, and I do get questions from citizens,” said Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn, explaining that he receives inquiries about the lack of activity on the project “on a regular basis.” A timeline on when the project will be finished is unknown. Developer Jeff Cline managed to hold off foreclosure proceedings scheduled for February with a $25 million bridge loan Friday.
It’s not enough to complete the $250 million project, but it will pay off about $5.8 million in mechanics liens taken out by contractors as well as pay off the original mortgage, which was about to go into foreclosure.
In an e-mail to the Tribune, Cline claimed the rest of the project’s financing is already secured, though he did not elaborate on where that money would come from.
And there’s little Chandler officials can do to move the project along, said Doug Ballard, Chandler planning and development director.
“Certainly there is concern when a building is left unfinished, and there are some questions as to what the city can do on that,” he said. “But we’re hopeful that everything comes together and he goes ahead and starts construction.”
Ballard said he’s also received complaints from people “concerned about the eyesore nature of it.”
Chandler resident Tom Stokes said construction projects are tolerable when progress is being made, but that’s apparently not the case here. “You don’t want something that’s been abandoned next to your nice new mall,” Stokes said.
Cline, who would answer questions only by e-mail, stated the next construction schedule would be determined sometime early next year. He said the project’s original fall 2007 target date for completion has been pushed back to sometime in 2008.
But Cline’s anticipated scheduling hasn’t been working out, including when he told the Tribune in late July that work would resume in a “few weeks.”
He also said he’s not concerned the site has become an eyesore or is unsafe.
“Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars was just spent cleaning up the rental forms on top of the structure for a cleaner appearance and site safety,” Cline stated. “The site has been totally cleaned up. A project of this scope is normally in similar construction condition for three years, so the existing state occurs on every new construction project built.”
All city building permits on the project have expired, meaning Cline will need to re-apply and go through Chandler’s approval process again. Getting that approval shouldn’t be difficult, as long as no significant plan changes are made, city officials said.