Editorial: The two towers

After almost two years, downtown Tempe might finally be showing a heartbeat.

The Tempe Tombstones just off Mill Avenue, formally known as the Centerpoint Condominiums, have sat half-finished on the Tempe skyline since construction stopped in 2008.

But a new company bought up the towers last week for $30 million. The company now outlined its plan to complete the towers and draw students in to lease out the condos inside.

The towers have been a constant reminder of the economic problems plaguing Tempe, fitting right in with empty storefronts across the street on Mill Avenue.

Business owners were waiting for the condos to open, hoping the influx of residents would give them a big boost in sales, and the city of Tempe went through a long process to approve the 30- and 22-story buildings that mostly just left everybody disappointed for so long.

In the interim, we’ve probably all heard stories of college parties on top of the vacant buildings and homeless camps inside, and it’s easy to walk past Centerpoint and wonder what other shady dealings could be going on within the skeletal construct.

Originally planned as luxury condos, the downgrade to student-centric housing raises questions about what the atmosphere is supposed to be for the buildings (and shows us just how much property values have dropped in Arizona). There has been no shortage of new apartment complexes shooting up around Tempe.

Many of the ones marketing specifically to students have landed themselves on Tempe Police’s top 10 list of apartment complexes with the most alcohol offenses. By the way, off-campus student housing shouldn’t try to scratch their way to the top of this list — and students might not want to choose their living situation solely on the amount of free-flowing alcohol it encourages.

With a combined 52 stories of students living just steps away from Mill Avenue, we can only imagine the havoc that will ensue. Need a reminder? Think of The Vue on Apache, which saw about 90 arrests just a few weeks after it opened in August 2009.

Imagine the toll this would take on our equestrian friends policing the streets of downtown Tempe — not to mention the humans ones — if the towers went down the same path.

The good news is we can finally see an end to the embarrassing eyesore just north of the Tempe campus. Hopefully we will no longer have to explain to visitors that the buildings they see dominating the city’s core have never been much of anything, and maybe we’ll even finally get to see the views from inside … when our friends invite us to those all those housewarming parties.