25-story mixed-use project set for infill site near Phoenix Art Museum

Scottsdale-based Aspirant Development has been busy planning major projects in and around downtown Phoenix over the past year.

News broke this summer about the company’s plans to move forward with a 45-story tower and mixed-use project called Astra after it was first proposed several years ago. If built, Astra will be the tallest tower in Arizona.

Meanwhile, Aspirant Development, a sister company of Empire Group of Cos., has been preparing to turn a vacant infill property at the northern edge of downtown into a mixed-use project with another residential high-rise.

To be built at 1500 N. Central Ave., the project is slated for a 25-story multifamily tower and a 2,500-square-foot art gallery along Central Avenue and two additional restaurant and retail buildings along McDowell Road.

Residents living at the property could benefit from the proximity to the nearby light rail stop along Central Avenue as well as the Phoenix Art Museum, which is located just across the intersection. It’s also centrally located between midtown and the downtown core and just north of the Burton Barr Central Library.

Geoff Jacobs

Geoffrey Jacobs, partner with Aspirant Development and Principal with The Empire Group of Cos. in Scottsdale.

Provided by Empire Group

“Having a high-rise project, especially 25 stories with no other high rises directly adjacent, is going to provide unbelievable views in every direction,” Geoffrey Jacobs, a partner at Aspirant Development, told the Business Journal. “Having all of that retail right next door as a piece of this project is a great benefit to residents.”

The new residential building will feature 320 units with a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartment options as well as 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space ideally suited for restaurants at the corner of the property. The separate, additional restaurant and retail space will total about 17,000 square feet, Jacobs said.

Aspirant Development plans to start work in late 2024

The 3-acre site will also allow them to bring large interior and exterior amenities to residents and patrons, Jacobs said. He said they are currently working through the design of the project and through city of Phoenix approvals.

Central & McDowell

Site plans show the potential layout of a new mixed-use project with housing and restaurants in central Phoenix.

Gensler via city of Phoenix documents

Aspirant Development expects to start construction by Q4 2024 and for the project to deliver about two years after construction commences.

Nick Wood, a partner and zoning attorney at Snell & Willmer, who is representing Aspirant in the project, said the property’s current zoning allows for the proposed uses, which means it will not require a public hearing.

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Jacobs said they are also in the process of raising capital for the project and that it’s too early to know construction costs.

Gensler is the architect, while a general contractor has not been selected. Restaurant and retail tenants have also not been finalized since the project is in its early stages.

Jacobs said they have been working on plans for the new mixed-use project at the site for the past nine to 12 months and are planning to acquire the property. A former Donnelly Financial Solutions building was previously located at the site but was demolished a couple years ago.

Aspirant has developed similar projects in the downtown Phoenix area including The Stewart Apartments at 800 N. Central Ave., a 19-story high-rise that was built in 2018 and sold in 2021 for $125.5 million.

“We’re big believers in the growth of downtown,” Jacobs said. “When we built The Stewart, … downtown was very different than it is today, we like to think we were one of the first to come in there and see the future of what’s going to happen with [Arizona State University’s] expansion and the light rail.”

He said the new Central Avenue and McDowell Road project is an extension of their belief in the growing downtown area, which has continued to see new residential towers proposed across multiple infill sites.


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