A pending sale to a new developer could lead to the demise of the barren bones of a project that has stood for more than seven years at the intersection of the 101 and 202 in Chandler.
Once an ambitious development, Elevation Chandler devolved into what Chandler City Council member Rick Heumann described as an “ugly shell” after original developer Jeff Cline ran out of funding in 2006. The shell has remained erect across the street from the Chandler Fashion Center ever since.
But a new developer — international real-estate firm Hines — is in the process of purchasing the land in order to build a for-rent multifamily project, wrote spokesperson Kim Jagger in an email.
Price & Frye Investments — a play on the street location of the project — is listed as the owner of the property by the Arizona Corporation Commission. Rene Esparza, loan servicing manager for the company, Point Center, that owns Price & Frye, added Hines expects to build approximately 300 units in all if the purchase goes through.
If the sale goes through, it could mean the end of a structure City of Chandler economic development director Christine Mackay said has, “been the bane of our existence for many years.”
“Someday, I’m going to take a bottle of champagne to the top of the Hilton and watch that thing fall,” she said.
Both Mackay and Esparza spoke highly of Hines, with the former calling the company that has built several projects in the greater-Phoenix area, like an office building on 24th Street and Camelback Road, the “real deal.” Esparza added Hines has the wherewithal required to ensure the potential product is completed.
“This is a perfect site and a perfect project for a company like Hines to do,” he said.
Esparza’s company became involved with Elevation Chandler when it provided Cline with a $24.2 million loan and became the owner through an Arizona Supreme Court decision several years after Cline lost the property.
If Elevation Chandler existed as more than a shell of itself, Esparza said it would have included a Renaissance Hotel, spa, gymnasium and condos.
“It was a great concept, and it would have worked,” he said.
Heumann, who was on the Chandler Planning and Zoning Commission at the time, said he was intrigued by the original concept, which he said included a sports bar, and was on board with a second presentation that included two floors of condominiums. But he said he became wary after a third presentation that featured apartment units among the facility’s features.
“The problem was, I didn’t trust the developer,” Heumann said.
A potential impediment in the sales process is the nature of Hines’ project. Heumann and Mackay said Elevation Chandler’s location is a premium piece of property for Chandler, given the proximity to the mall and the two highways, and said the city would do what it can to expedite City’s side of the purchasing process for the right project.
While neither has seen an in-depth proposal of what the project will be, Heumann said the plans presented to him thus far do not match the expectations he has for that location.
“What I’ve seen is a drawing of a multi-family project that I’m not all that excited about,” he said.
Whenever Elevation Chandler does fall and another project takes its place, Mackay said it will be a good omen for Chandler’s economy and for future real estate development.
“The Chandler residents deserve it after all these years,” she said.
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