Tempe City Council approves downtown office development

The Tempe City Council approved the new 250 Rio development at its last meeting on June 23.

This was the second and final public hearing for the project, which called for an amendment to the zoning map and a Changed the general plan land use map in order to move forward. The site, which will soon house the 14-story office building with commercial space on the ground floor, is located at 250 West Rio Salado Parkway. The project will also include preservation of the historic Ash Avenue roadbed.

Developer Hines is also responsible for neighboring 100 Mill, another new downtown office building.

Five votes were required and the resolution passed 5-0, with Vice Mayor Randy Keating and council member Jennifer Adams both absent from the meeting.

“We are very pleased that the City of Tempe has recognized the vision for this property and how it can truly improve the downtown core,” Hines chief executive Brandon Dillingham said in a prepared statement after the vote. “We look forward to celebrating and activating the Ash Avenue platform and integrating it into 250 Rio in a way that will make it a historic community asset.”

250 Rio will include pedestrian zones to increase walkability from downtown Tempe to Tempe Beach Park.

Mayor Woods and Councilman Robin Arredondo-Savage both praised the developers for working closely with the city’s Historic Preservation Committee to make the Ash Avenue portion of the project work. Arredondo-Savage was particularly pleased with the preservation of the platform, which will contribute to the creation of a veterans’ memorial adjacent to the site – a longtime passion project for her. Woods also praised the building’s “iconic” design.

Only one community member spoke out against the project at the meeting due to its focus on office space amid a housing crisis in Tempe, although he admitted that the developers’ plans donating money to the city’s affordable housing fund and local public schools are positive.

But Dillingham said office space is of interest as the city emerges from the pandemic and businesses flock to Tempe.

“This is an incredible and unique opportunity not only for a successful mixed-use development, but also for the creation of a new public amenity that honors Tempe’s history while enhancing the visitor experience in Tempe. Town Lake,” Dillingham said. “We look forward to continuing to expand our presence in Tempe and creating a project that will make the community proud.”

David H. Henry