Tempe is ready to compete with Phoenix and Glendale for convention business. The Tempe City Council has approved a plan to build a high-rise hotel and conference center near Arizona State University.
The University Square project is considered important to ASU, which would benefit by having a hotel and meeting space next to the campus, officials said.
The development would be financed by SAXA Developers. They would receive a tax abatement from the city for eight years and would provide Tempe with 182 parking spaces.
SAXA hopes to secure financing within 90 days and begin building by July with completion within three years.
"The question really is, can they get financing?" said Jay Butler, an ASU realty and development expert.
Despite that hurdle, Butler said the developers have hopes of pulling off their project, given the lack of conference space in downtown Tempe.
Butler added the area is a prime urban location that could draw business from Phoenix or Glendale conference centers.
"You've got a downtown that in an urban sense is probably better than anything in the entire Valley," he said. "It's a nice place. There's restaurants, shops ... places to walk."
Scott Turkington, a SAXA vice president, said the project is aimed at competing with Phoenix and other Valley convention centers. He said SAXA has been in talks with Hilton hotels to build in the space and manage the conference center.