The Arizona Board of Regents authorized ASU to begin negotiations with a private developer for a mixed-use development that will include a hotel and conference center on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive.
Vice president and chief financial officer Morgan Olsen said the project, which the city of Tempe and ASU have been looking into the project for some time, will include a four-star hotel.
“A hotel and conference center on campus would provide an excellent site for various University conferences and events, and would provide high-quality lodging for University and downtown Tempe visitors,” he said. “It also will relieve the current high volume of activities that the Memorial Union is tasked to host, providing more time and space for student activities and functions.”
However, the proposal has left some students wondering how the University will relieve parking issues, as the proposed site holds about 685 parking spaces. These, along with the 1,400 parking spaces scheduled to be lost to the new State Farm office development in Lot 59, would mean that the University could lose parking for more than 2,000 cars in the coming years.
Melissa Wagner, a doctoral student in the school of geographical sciences and urban planning, said she parks in a free lot more than a half-mile walk from the University during the school year to save money, but she pays to park in Lot 20 on the corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive during the summer because of the high temperatures.
She said she used to park in Lot 59 and is surprised that the University has chosen to do away with the two lots because the area has already been overdeveloped with not enough parking solutions.
“That’s going to be a nightmare,” she said. “They are going to have to come up with alternatives and put parking somewhere, because when you take away places to park, you are forcing everyone to compete for less spots. I just can’t see a solution happening.”
Supply chain management freshman Ibrahim Al Jaizani said he pays $9 a day to park in Lot 20 because his classes are all in buildings near that lot. He said he would not pay to park in any other lot.
“I always park here because my classes are really close, so closing this lot will be a really big problem for me and probably a lot of other people,” he said.
Olsen said most of the parking in lot 59 is “rarely” used for daily ASU parking, so the University does not need to plan on replacing it. He said the lot on Mill Avenue and University Drive is more “fully subscribed.”
“ASU will be working with the developer on a plan to share structured parking that will be part of the project,” he said.
ABOR spokeswoman Sarah Harper said in an email, “The Board is excited and optimistic about the opportunity, which underscores the tremendous role our universities play in economic development in our state.”
Harper said the final terms of the negotiations will be brought back to the business and finance committee for final approval in August.
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