New Tempe development looks to transform lakefront area

Apr 21, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 12:33 pm

(Rendering of Novus Innovation Corridor by Novus)...

(Rendering of Novus Innovation Corridor by Novus)

(Rendering of Novus Innovation Corridor by Novus)

PHOENIX — Overlooking Tempe Town Lake, adjacent to the Arizona State University campus, a massive mixed-use development called the Novus Innovation Corridor is taking shape.

Development is still underway, and it will continue for years to come. However, the project already features large swaths of office space, parking, living and retail.

The genesis for the Novus Innovation Corridor came from ASU in the late 2000s, explained Charley Freericks with the project’s master developer Catellus Development Corporation.

“They came up with this idea to take 355 acres of land, and put it in a district for private commercial development on ASU’s campus to tax commercial development to help fund athletics,” Freericks told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

That means that when a tenant at the Novus Innovation Corridor pays their tax bill, it goes directly to ASU Athletics. It’s a highly unorthodox way of generating income, and the university had to get approval from the state legislature to make it a reality.

The proximity to ASU’s campus means the Novus Innovation Corridor is linked to the university in more ways than just financially. The development is designed to facilitate the university’s work and connect companies with potential hires.

“Over time, [ASU President] Dr. Michael Crow said ‘I don’t want it to just be commercial development, I want it to be part of the ASU ecosystem,’” Freericks recounted. “’[Crow said] You rent space in an office building, and it’s so convenient you also rent an apartment and live there. You can also hire ASU students as interns and graduates as employees.’”

“It’s a very long-term idea, with a 20-year buildout plus or minus,” Freericks continued. “Right now we’re optimistic about what’s happened on our development and the revenue generation for athletics.”

The first part of the project was Marina Heights, a massive 20-acre office park. It features five office towers, restaurants, retail and a public park.

“The lake creates an opportunity for what they call ‘Class-A Premium Lakefront Office Space,’” Freericks said. “There are companies that just want to be in the best locations in any city, and the lake has created that environment.”

Freericks said the partnership with the university also influenced the way the Novus Innovation Corridor is courting potential tenants.

“We’re targeting companies that are high-tech, high-education, high-wage,” he said. “Companies that really will benefit from and thrive next to ASU.”

The Second Phase of the Novus Innovation Corridor was a $300 million reinvention of Sun Devil Stadium.

Now, in Phase Three, the living and entertainment aspects of the project are being fleshed out near the former fraternity district and University Drive and Rural Road.

New development includes a Hyatt Hotel, ASU research facilities and classrooms, retail and dining including a partnership with Fox Restaurant Concepts, and a luxury apartment complex.

“We’ve tried to create a majority [living space] to be targeted at the professional community,” Freericks said. “It’s not limited to that, but we’re not actively marketing to student housing.”

There’s another high-profile fixture of the Novus Innovation Corridor: Mullett Arena, which besides being home to the Coyotes for the next few years, will also host concerts and college athletic events.

The arena and has been a boon for the development. Freericks said between this season of the Coyotes and ASU Hockey, about 250,000 visitors came to the Novus Innovation Corridor.

There’s still a lot of work left to finish the Novus Innovation Corridor’s planned development, but Freericks stressed the end result will transform that area of Tempe.

“People living here, people working here, people playing here,” he said. “It’s just a great mixed-use community happening in Tempe on the ASU campus.”

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New Tempe development looks to transform lakefront area