Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman gave his final State of the City address Thursday at The Buttes, A Marriot Resort in Tempe where he outlined Tempe’s recent achievements in development as well as problems the city will face in the future.
Hallman addressed a crowded room, including guests Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith by reiterating a vow from last year that Tempe would be among the first of Arizona’s cities to recover from the economic downturn.
“This year, I can say that is true,” Hallman said.
Hallman cited a 6.6 percent increase in city revenue for the last fiscal year ending in June. Crime rate, he said, has gone down as well.
Stabilizing vacancy rates are another sign Hallman used to show the rebound of Tempe’s economy. The vacancy rate along Mill Avenue is at about 8 percent, one of the lowest in the Valley, Hallman said.
There are more than 70 restaurants for Tempe residents to dine at, Hallman said.
“There is no more restaurant space that you can find,” he said.
The 22-story and 30-story apartments demonstrate how development is returning to Tempe, Hallman said.
“Many people think of this as a miracle project,” he said.
Construction on the high-rise apartments began in 2005 but stopped in 2008 because Mortgage Ltd., the financial backer for the project, filed for bankruptcy. Construction resumed early 2011 when Zaremba Group purchased the towers.
Hallman pointed to Tempe Town Lake as another spot that adds to the uniqueness of Tempe.
The Salt River has always been an important part of Tempe as it provided the power for the Hayden Flour Mill when it was still in use, he said.
Because of construction of dams along the Salt River, like the Roosevelt Dam, the river no longer reaches Tempe.
“The riverbed became a dumping ground, adding ugliness on top of ugliness,” Hallman said.
Tempe Town Lake opened on Nov. 7, 1999, according to the City of Tempe’s website.
“Tempe’s future will depend on the Mill Avenue and Town Lake District becoming fully populated,” Hallman said.
Looking into the future, Sun Devil Stadium is one challenge Hallman said will have to be addressed.
“The stadium is literally crumbling and lacks a roof,” he said.
Hallman said the proposed plans for a street car to run along Mill Avenue will improve the area including Sun Devil Stadium.
Tempe resident Daniel Soulvie, 22, said that he thinks Tempe is on a good development path while he took a break from an early bike ride on Sunday near the newly completed pedestrian bridge at Tempe Town Lake.
Soulvie said he enjoys the access to the Phoenix that light rail has allowed him.
Though, the West 6th apartments look out of place in Tempe, Soulvie said.
“They really are a big eyesore,” he said.
Hallman began serving on the city council in 1998, a senior partner with Edward Jones Investments Kim Webb said in her introduction for Hallman.
Webb spoke of Hallman’s achievements as a practicing attorney and head master of the Tempe Preparatory Academy.
“As a community volunteer he has given untold hours to local charities,” Webb said.
East Valley Habitat for Humanities and Tempe Community Action Agency, two local non-profits, are two organizations that Hallman has donated his time to, she said.
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