Tempe could own the Hayden Flour Mill by the end of the month if a development company doesn’t meet a Tuesday deadline to finance the mill’s revitalization.
Tempe officials say they hope that a division of MCW Holdings can strike a lastminute deal to redevelop the mill and the southeast corner of Rio Salado Parkway and Mill Avenue. Otherwise, the city will buy the mill and 10 surrounding acres for $11.8 million.
The city signed a contract with the division of MCW in 2001, agreeing that Tempe would buy the property if the company had not inked a deal with financiers by Tuesday. The city was eager to push along development on the corner, which it considers a key link between Tempe Town Lake and Mill Avenue.
The contract also stopped developers from blasting into Hayden Butte and building higher than 1,180 feet along the Butte. Original plans had condominiums built as high as 1,215 feet, raising the ire of residents who formed a "Save the Butte" campaign.
Many financiers have expressed interest in developing the corner, but they often want to tear down the mill, something that Tempe’s City Council would not support, said Dave Fackler of the city’s Development Services division.
If the city does buy the mill, the council will have more control to save the building, he said.
"I don’t think the City Council — not this City Council, anyhow — would ever entertain a proposal to tear down those buildings," he said. "That’s such a part of our history, probably the most important part of it aside from Monti’s La Casa Vieja (restaurant). This is a situation where the best way to save the buildings is probably to buy them."
The City Council could vote as soon as Thursday to begin acquiring the mill, said City Attorney Marlene Pontrelli.
"We could possibly close escrow within the end of the month," she said.
Charles T. Hayden, one of Tempe’s pioneers, built an adobe mill at the site in 1874 that burned around 1890. A second mill, also made of adobe, burned in 1917. The existing mill was built in 1918 and operated until 1997. A recent fire damaged much of the nearby grain warehouse built in the 1920s.