Release Date: Wednesday, March 2nd 2011
Centerpoint sale brings hopes of shopping on Mill
by Dianna M. Nanez - Feb. 24, 2011 10:31 AM
The Arizona Republic
The sale of the Centerpoint Condominiums involved a web of complex legal entanglements dating to the fall of commercial lender Mortgages Ltd., but for downtown businesses the bottom line is simple.
Friday's sale of Centerpoint means that by year's end there will be 375 apartment units for rent.
Downtown Tempe businesses have struggled to survive the fallout of the recession. Even national outlets like American Apparel, which closed this past weekend, have failed. So for many businesses, the thought of having hundreds of shoppers living a stone's throw from downtown sounds like a dream. It would help put an end to a real-estate nightmare.
Shannon Randle, manager of Churchill's Fine Cigars, across the street from the towers, said many business owners had hoped the project would remain luxury condos and fill with wealthy homeowners who had discretionary income to spend. But after watching the project become an eyesore, reality has hit, he said.
"I'm at the point of saying, get them filled now, and rent them out for now," he said.
Centerpoint's troubles began in 2008 when the sole shareholder of Mortgages Ltd., the condos' financial backer, committed suicide. A series of bankruptcy proceedings thwarted the sale, which was almost completed in the fall when Zaremba Group was slated to pay $30 million for the condos. The deal fell apart amid disagreements with the title holder over construction liens on the project. The new deal involved ML Manager, the seller, acquiring the liens from Zaremba with funds from the $30 million.
Angie Miller, a spokeswoman for Zaremba, acknowledged the disappointment of Tempe business owners who lament filling downtown with students who are likely to rent near Arizona State University.
"Obviously what was slated to be condos are now going to be rental apartments," she said. "(But) we're going to stay very true to the luxury concept. It really will be an economic boon to the Tempe community."
Zaremba has changed the name of the project to West Sixth, in reference to the address 111 W. Sixth St. The 22-story tower will be ready for move-in by Aug. 1, Miller said. The second 30-story tower will be complete by December.
Randle hopes the towers open, but he questions whether the legal woes that have plagued the project are over. "I'll believe it when I see it," he said.