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Proposal for new apartments on Farmer Avenue cancelled following community debate

A dirt lot on the northeast corner of University Drive and Farmer is pictured on Sunday, April 17, 2016, where a new apartment complex had been proposed to be built.

A dirt lot on the northeast corner of University Drive and Farmer is pictured on Sunday, April 17, 2016, where a new apartment complex had been proposed to be built.

Plans for a new apartment complex in downtown Tempe were withdrawn Thursday following a debate among city officials, local businesses and Tempe residents.

The vote on the project had been tabled in the previous Tempe City Council meeting on April 14 and was supposed to be heard at the next meeting on May 12 in order to come up with a compromise between residents and city officials.

The 13-story apartment project, which would have 281 unit apartments, has sparked mixed emotions among downtown Tempe residents. Several community members expressed concerns surrounding increased traffic and living expenses following construction of the apartments. 

Tashi Pratt-King, who has lived in Tempe for nearly 13 years near the proposed site, said she was pleased to hear the apartments wouldn’t be built — for now.

“It rubbed me and a lot of my neighbors the wrong way,” Pratt-King said. “They didn’t really solicit neighbors' opinions. There was just no consideration for the existing neighborhood.”

Pratt-King said she wouldn’t mind if something such as affordable apartments or grocery stores were built on the empty land. She said the community in downtown Tempe could benefit from an affordable grocery store for both local residents and on-campus ASU students.

“We need a grocery store,” Pratt-King said. “(The Tempe Farmers Market) is serving as best as it can but it’s a farmer’s market — not a grocery store.”

Pratt-King added that her worries for “luxury apartments” being built in downtown Tempe stemmed from the construction of Tempe high-rises like West 6th. She said people living and working in Tempe cannot afford to live in the such apartments.

“We need a lot more one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms that are affordable,” Pratt-King said. “It’s not affordable to the students and the people who excitingly live there. We’re worried it’s going to be another West 6th."

Tempe City Council member Joel Navarro said he supported the apartments and thought the apartments were a good idea for the area.

“It’s always a little remorseful,” Navarro said. “I felt like it (the apartments) was not a bad thing to the area. The hype didn’t really bother me." 

Navarro said he is optimistic for future plans of the empty lot and hopes that another project will happen soon.

“We hope that a better project will come out of it,” Navarro said. “The only question though we have is: How long?”

Charles Huellmantel of Urban Development Partners did not respond to calls for comment at the time of publication.

Reach the reporter at or follow @thesydneygreene on Twitter.

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