For years, there have been talks about bringing higher density to places along the light rail line. In fact, the Apache Corridor in Tempe has been one of the areas where many feel there can / will be some major changes in the future.
“Encourage reinvestment in the Apache Boulevard area in order to build a more desirable neighborhood in which people will enjoy living and working. Enhance the positive aspects of this area and promote desirable reuse of the land.” – Quoted from the Apache Boulevard Redevelopment Plan
Over the past several months, there has been a lot of discussion about the redevelopment project that will be called Gracie’s Village. Currently, Gracie’s Thrift Store sits on approximately 2 1/4 acres at 1520 East Apache Blvd in Tempe and is owned by Grace Community Church. In the future, Gracie’s is purposed to be a 5-story, approximately 100,000 square foot LEED certified building consisting of the thrift store, a community center, internet cafe and 74 affordable living apartments for people in the 40-60% median income range.
Development and funding for Gracie’s:
So how does this thing get off the ground in these challenging economic times when redevelopment seems so difficult? According to Garin at the Tribune, the $19 million project could be part of the Sustainable Communities Development Fund. Information that I collected from Gracie’s indicates that the ( private ) developer of the project will be Gorman & Co. with a collaboration of federal, state, local entities along with a non-profit. ( Grace Community Church )
While the project is slated as affordable housing, it has been stated that this does not mean student or Section 8 housing.
Some of the surrounding neighborhoods have been vocal in their opposition to the development of Gracie’s Village. Driving through the University Heights neighborhood to the north and the Hudson Manor neighborhood to the south you see dozens of signs protesting the project’s height and apparent disruption to their area. Picketers have protested outside of Grace Community Church, as well.
It seems like some of the neighbors in the single family homes close to the project are against the proposed density of Gracie’s Village. To be clear, there are other factors that weigh in to their opposition, but the 5 story height of the building is certainly a major factor. One interesting fact about this area is that it is already one of the most densely populated areas in the entire Valley. In addition to many homes, condos, and apartments, there are many restaurants and shops located nearby. Being close to so many neighborhood amenities and being between two light rail stations allows residents to live a much less car dependant lifestyle. Yes, transportation does play into both the pro and con side of the equation. Opponents say the development would bring more traffic and parking problems while proponents might say the proximity to light rail could / would be a huge benefit.
No Formal Plans Submitted:
It’s my understanding that all of this fuss is over a project that has not yet been submitted to the city for review. It sounds like there may be some anxious developers and some over zealous opposition making a big fuss over something that hasn’t really even seen the light of day yet. Once the city gets the plans for review, it’s anyone’s guess as to how this thing plays out. One thing is for sure, it will be interesting to watch.
The Business Journal has posted a rendering of the project. Take a look, let us know what you think.