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Tempe commission recommends approval of mixed-use housing close to campus

The commission recommended approval of the Verve project, now Tempe City Council is set to make the final call in March


Concept rendering of Verve Tempe project.

The Tempe Development Review Commission recommended Verve Tempe for approval last month. If approved, the 15-story, 240-unit project would be across the street from the Canvas Tempe apartments. It now awaits a vote by the Tempe City Council before the land is officially rezoned to mixed-use.

The 0.9-acre site is currently zoned as residential. It is home to the Park Terrace Apartments at 1011 E Orange St. If the city council affirms the commission's recommendation, the land will be rezoned to mixed-use and Park Terrace Apartments will be demolished, according to minutes from a Jan. 23 commission meeting. 

The final hearing for this project will be on March 7, 2024. 

Verve Tempe is planned to have 152 four-bedroom units, 13 three-bedroom units, 46 two-bedroom units, 10 one-bedroom units and 19 studio units, and amenities include a dog run, pool, fitness areas and study areas along with an outdoor roof deck, according to a review commission document from the Jan. 23 meeting. 

Because Tempe voters may approve the Tempe General Plan 2050 in the March special election, project leaders needed to request rezoning that supports what could be a new zoning map for the city. 

"This demonstrates the city’s long-term objectives to see mixed-use development for properties along the light rail, including the Site," according to the project narrative from the Verve Tempe project submittal to the review commission.

Darin Sender, president and founder of Sender Associates, the law firm representing the the Verve Tempe Project, said at the Feb. 15 city council meeting that the base of Verve Tempe will have retail space for a restaurant or "grab and go" grocery store.

Sender Associates has also represented Union Tempe and The Local, which are both residential high-rise complexes in the city.

"Every project that comes in this area is really raising the bar, and I think you'll see that this one has raised it yet again," Sender said at the city council meeting. 

Neil Reardon, an associate at ESG Architecture and Design, the project's architecture firm, presented renderings to the Tempe City Council during the Feb. 15 meeting:

Reardon said the exterior is set to be built with pewter and charcoal metals with terra-cotta-colored accents, which Tempe Mayor Corey Woods, at the city council meeting, said were "higher-quality" materials that contrast the stucco on the exterior of some other high-rises.

Unlike other mixed-use developments set to begin construction in north Tempe, Verve Tempe will "primarily" cater to University students looking to live off-campus, according to the project narrative.

During the city council meeting, Woods and Councilmember Joel Navarro pointed out that Verve Tempe creates additional student housing in a more "appropriate" location – one that is outside the area of single-family homes south of Apache Boulevard. 

Councilmember Navarro said it is not that residents dislike students. Still, in the past, there have been instances of student renters displacing single families looking to purchase homes in one of Tempe's residential corridors just southeast of ASU's Tempe campus. 

Woods said that though there has been a drastic decrease in this phenomenon over the last two decades, it is good to see builders develop student housing in the area nearest ASU.

"The project complies and aligns with the land use goals of the General Plan, which include reducing motor vehicle reliance, encouraging vertical mixed-use development, and creating hubs in high-density activity centers," states Tempe government documents

Woods said the mixed-use designation would allow residents in the surrounding area to utilize the shops, restaurants, or grocery stores set to be in the base of Verve Tempe. The owner and builder are still deciding what will exist in that space. 

"We're talking about trying to find ways to continue to activate that Apache Boulevard Corridor, which is where the presence of light rail is," Woods said at the meeting.  

Edited by Shane Brennan, Walker Smith and Angelina Steel.

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