University breaks ground on Omni Tempe Hotel

The Arizona Supreme Court agreed to review the Arizona attorney general's lawsuit against the deal between ASU and Omni Hotels ahead of ceremony

ASU and members of Tempe City Council broke ground on the new Omni Tempe Hotel Friday morning, three days after the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to review Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s lawsuit targeting ASU's deal with the hotel's developers.

The $125,000,000 facility located at 7 E. University Dr. will have 330 guest rooms and is estimated to be completed in 18 months. It will have 30,000 square feet of conference space, making it the largest conference center in Tempe. 

According to ASU's website for the hotel, it will be a venue used for University-related events such as guest speakers and public functions in addition to its primary function as a hotel.

Jay Thorne, an ASU spokesperson, said he hopes the Omni Hotel will be a new focal point for Tempe in the "downtown revitalization."

“There are always those detractors and naysayers at any project that any of us do,” he said. “But I believe those critics have a political agenda rather than watching out for the mission of the universities.”

Lower courts have twice ruled against Brnovich in his claims that the deal "improperly exempted the hotel and conference center from property taxes." The deal would exempt Omni Hotels and Resorts from paying property taxes as the hotel is built on University land, and the University would receive rental payments for the hotel.

Brnovich's office did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit in time for publication.

At the event, ASU President Michael Crow said the project represents a "further maturation" for ASU into one of the nation's leading centers for teaching, learning and discovery.

“It's a community of communities, hundreds or thousands of groups that want to be here, that want to be associated with us. And we needed this partnership. We needed this hotel and we're very, very excited that it's finally under way,” Crow said.

Crow said he sees the Omni Hotel as an extension of the ASU campus.

“You don't build a university with walls around it,” he said. “You don't build a university without people being here. It is a community.”

Tempe Mayor Corey Woods anticipates the hotel’s location will aid small businesses by bringing tourists and event attendees to Tempe.

“(It) will be a true game changer for all of us,” Woods said at the event. “This new Omni Hotel is going to help our businesses thrive and generate revenues that fund city services that help all of our residents.” 

According to John Creer, vice president for real estate development at ASU, the partnership between the hotel and the University has been in the works for eight years with different concepts being scrapped until they came to the final design.

“I've been (working at ASU for) almost eight years, and my second day here, I found myself in a meeting regarding this site,” Creer said. “There's a lot that goes into getting a shovel in the ground.”

Woods said the city of Tempe has worked for several decades to make investments that have made the city what it is today, all of which have led to the development of the Omni Hotel.

“We have waited a long time for this moment, and we're excited to welcome the Omni to Tempe,” Woods said. “The hotel is incredibly meaningful to us and we can't wait to see it come to fruition."


Reach the reporter at caera@asu.edu and follow @CaeraLearmonth on Twitter.  

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