Developer proposes 11-story hotel at Tempe site
By Garin Groff, Tribune
November 22, 2006
A developer plans to raze the former Bandersnatch Pub, replacing the once thriving Tempe college hangout with an 11-story hotel that caters to business travelers.
The Marriott Residence Inn is the second specifi c hotel plan to emerge this year in downtown Tempe, where a building boom is rapidly transforming the college town into a more sophisticated urban hub.
Though the project would destroy the microbrewery that closed three years ago, it would add one welcome amenity — parking. Preliminary plans call for a garage with about 300 spaces. The developer, Floridabased Finvarb Group, has developed four other Marriotts and secured financing, said Chris Salomone, Tempe’s community development manager.
“They want to get into the market as quickly as they can,” he said.
As many as 11 hotel operators have looked at downtown Tempe for possible locations — far more than the area can sup- port. But city officials say that kind of interest shows how the booming downtown needs more hotel rooms, especially for business travelers on extended stays. This would be downtown’s first hotel to serve that niche.
Tempe needs more hotels because rooms can quickly sell out during events, said Michael Martin, executive vice president of the Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau. This hotel could handle overflow from the Tempe Mission Palms, which is almost directly across Fifth Street. Too many visitors have had to stay outside downtown or in other cities because rooms have sold out, Martin said.
“I think it’s a missed opportunity,” Martin said. “I wouldn’t say it’s slowed our growth.”
He expects more hotels will land in Tempe, citing a study that found the city has 5,000 rooms now but could support another 1,500.
The other downtown hotel approved this year is Le Meridien, a 14-story, fivestar hotel on the south side of Tempe Town Lake. Downtown’s largest hotel, Tempe Mission Palms, has long been considering expanding its 300-room property. Tempe also has approved a 300-foot tall project called University Square that includes condos, offices and a hotel, but the developer hasn’t announced specifics on that hotel.
Tempe hasn’t approved the Marriott proposal yet but the city hasn’t found any major problems in the preliminary plans. The proposal includes some retail and restaurant space and about 12,000 square feet of meeting rooms. Another perk is the parking garage, which would sit between the hotel and the Tempe Municipal Center, otherwise known as the upside down pyramid.
The hotel would tower over the three-story pyramid, but it would hardly be the tallest new structure. The city has approved several taller buildings, including a 30-story condo that’s more than 300 feet tall, though it’s limiting other buildings to 300 feet.
A Finvarb representative said he didn’t want to discuss the project until more details are finalized.