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ASU plans for a new urban community with 20-year project

Development for Tempe's Novus Innovation Corridor will begin next spring

Developers for the Novus Innovation Corridor will begin building on 19 acres located on the corner of University and Rural.

Developers for the Novus Innovation Corridor will begin building on 19 acres located on the corner of University and Rural.

Big plans are underway for Arizona State University, which will begin developing a new urban mixed-use community in Tempe over the course of the next 20 years starting next spring.

According to Brian Kearney, the senior vice president of development at Catellus Development Corp., the upcoming Novus Innovation Corridor (Novus) will be a “sustainable, technology oriented, world class community.”

The plans for the 20-year project date back to 2010 when ASU was successful in getting state legislation to approve the project. It wasn’t until 2014 that Catellus was deemed as the master developer for the project.

The project will not look to the university or taxpayers to fund the project; as the master developer, Catellus will fund all of the costs of the district and over time will be reimbursed by leasing the land to future developers.

“Developers will pay an in lieu assessment, which is essentially equivalent to the property tax," Kearney said. "Those revenues then are used to fund things like the renovation of Sun Devil Stadium and the relocation and rebuilding of other athletic venues.”

The main idea behind Novus is to, over time, fund the redeveloping and relocating of various ASU sports facilities over a span of 330 acres.

“What we’re doing is taking land and re-purposing it from its current use into commercial use to develop a consistent, long-term stream of income to benefit the university," said John Creer, assistant vice president of real estate development at ASU.

The corridor will also contain progressive aspects by applying new sustainable concepts.

“ASU is a major research university and we’re committed to high sustainability standards. We’re going to impose and influence our commercial vertical developers to have smart and highly sustainable buildings," Creer said.

Vertical developers will begin building on 19 bare acres located on the corner of University and Rural.

“We’re negotiating our first two projects within that space; one is an office building and one is a multi-family residential development," Creer said. “The reason we’re starting there is because we don’t have to move anything.”

The Novus Innovation Corridor itself will include a mixture of high and mid-rise buildings that will host Class “A” offices, ground level retail, hotels and multi-family living structures.

According to Kris Baxter-Ging, the city of Tempe’s economic and community development information officer, Novus is predicted to generate an estimate of 20,000 jobs and around 5,000 new residents.

The corridor will explore various ideas and methods ranging from the use of reclaimed water, a potential district cooling system, an emphasis on shaded areas and building materials that will protect the corridor from high temperatures.

“The district is also likely to bring more tech companies to Tempe due to its emphasis on the smart-city infrastructure," Baxter-Ging said.

Development plans such as these offer ASU students and graduates to stay in Tempe and build a career locally.

“We really see this as a very unique opportunity to help ASU prepare itself for the future while simultaneously developing a world class urban community,” said Kearney. “I think it will be a win-win for the community and for ASU.”

Although the lengthy project will not begin developing until next spring, Tempe is expecting to see site preparation and infrastructure work later on this year.

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