The Tempe City Council will consider on June 2 whether a proposal to build a professional hockey arena, hotels, offices, retail and residential units on city land should proceed to a formal negotiation phase.
The proposal was submitted by the Meruelo Group and the Arizona Coyotes through their affiliate, Bluebird Development.
Months before the council can decide whether to officially select the proposing organization to build an entertainment district at Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, the council members must first decide if the city should formally negotiate with the proposing group.
Tempe issued a Request for Proposals for a professional sports entertainment district on July 22, 2021. One proposal, from Bluebird LLC, was received on Sept. 2, 2021. Since that time, "city staff members have been analyzing the proposal with the assistance of sports, legal and financial consultants as part of its intensive due diligence process," Tempe officials stated in a release.
The city announced in an April statement that the council directed city staff to seek clarification from the project proposer on a number of matters. Having followed council’s direction, the city is at a point at which it is appropriate to seek the council’s permission to negotiate if it is council’s direction to do so, the release stated.
City Manager Andrew Ching said the process that will occur June 2 is common for any development proposal on city land.
“Final decisions on this developer’s ideas are not happening June 2. This is about whether the council wants to talk more about the group’s ideas or not,” Ching said in a statement. “We wanted to provide ample notice to community members about this meeting so they can learn more and make plans to provide input if they choose.”
The city offered one example of a similar process has been the city’s RFP for the Hayden Flour Mill & Silos: "On Feb. 10, the council voted to negotiate with the proposer of a redevelopment project at the site. Negotiations are continuing and could result in a draft agreement for the council’s future consideration. Selecting a developer to negotiate with is not the same as choosing a developer to do business with."
If the council members vote on June 2 to proceed with negotiations, they have officially accepted the original submission of the developer and want to hear more. It does not mean that the project is moving forward. There would be a long road ahead before that would be decided on, the city stated in a release.
Negotiations could take several months.
During negotiations, the parties would attempt to formulate a Development and Disposition Agreement, which is a detailed, legal document of financial terms, timelines, specifics about what would be built and more. It would include the financial terms, timelines, specifics about what would be built and more, the city stated.
A draft DDA would be brought before the council in the future for a public formal vote.
"A robust public input process would happen before the council’s decision," the release stated.
Finally, the Tempe officials said, even with an approved DDA, the council would still have several public meetings to decide on aspects such as zoning approvals and general plan amendments, as needed.
If the council votes against negotiations on June 2, it has officially passed on the proposal of the developer. The council could choose at a later time to issue a new RFP seeking development at this location, or it could choose to do nothing for now.
The format for the June 2 meeting will include a presentation from the development team to the council; questions from council members to the developer; input from community members and a vote on whether to proceed to negotiations. During the meeting, council also could temporarily adjourn to a closed session allowed by state law in order to obtain legal guidance, Tempe officials said.
The release stated: The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 31 E. Fifth St. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. Signs, banners and other similar visual items will not be permitted in the City Council Chambers. Face masks are strongly recommended for those attending in person. Anyone who would like to speak to the council will need to fill out a comment card available in the room.
Residents can participate virtually by filling out a comment card to request to speak virtually and registering through Webex. The City Clerk’s Office accepts requests for virtual speaking until two hours before the meeting. Visit tempe.gov/CouncilMeetingInfo for details.
Residents who do not have comments or questions can watch from home on Cox Channel 11, watch tempe.gov/tempe11 or follow this story on yourvalley.net.
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