courtesy of  Danika Worthington

A new mixed-use development on Roosevelt Street and First Avenue, the first of 13 projects to secure part of a $20 million community development fund, has released its design.

The new building, named Union at Roosevelt, is being developed by Metro West Development. It will fill a lot that has been vacant for over 50 years, Sustainable Communities CollaborativeDirector Shannon Scutari said.

“We believe that this is one of many that will start to fill in some of those vacant lots in the downtown corridor,” Scutari said.

Some of the funding for Union at Roosevelt is through the Sustainable Communities Fund. The fund was created through a total of $20 million in contributions from the likes of the Raza Development Fund and Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

The Valley-based Sustainable Communities Collaborative worked with both organizations and mayors from nearby cities to create a Sustainable Communities Fund, according to their website.

Sustainable Communities Collaborative works to create a vibrant urban environment that is transit-oriented, according to their website. It provides early financial help to new developments that are within half a mile of a light rail stop, provide density and are available to a mix of economic demographics, Scutari said.

Union at Roosevelt was the first of 13 loans closed with the fund, Scutari said. Four of the 13 developments are located in the downtown corridor, she said. Of those downtown, McKinley Lofts on Fifth Avenue and Roosevelt Street is the only completed project. The other projects are in varying stages of development.

Although Scutari declined to say how much the fund loaned Metro West Development, LISC Phoenix reported an $880,000 investment, according to their loan project summary.

Union at Roosevelt will feature 60 residential units and support 9,200 square feet of commercial space, according to LISC’s summary.

Developed by Metro West, this rendering shows one angle of the Union at Roosevelt project. (Courtesy of Sustainable Communities Collaborative)

City of Phoenix Village Planner Katherine Coles said the land initially seemed too difficult to develop. But Metro West Development was able to combine three parcels of land and a right-turn lane onto First Avenue to make the land usable.

Roosevelt Row CDC Vice President Greg Esser said the project was a positive example of promoting multimodal transportation and roadway abandonment.

“(Union at Roosevelt sets) a new standard for infill development especially downtown,” Esser said.

The close proximity to the light rail and design of the building will promote a pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly city, Scutari said.

Coles said Union at Roosevelt will help create density near the light rail stop.

Due to the small site, Coles said Metro West Development was clever about how it used the space in a way that did not impose on neighbors. Coles also said Metro West was smart to limit the height.

“The design is good in that somebody wasn’t trying to put 10 pounds of flour in a 5-pound sack,” Coles said.

Buildings that exceed four stories become more expensive due to additional building requirements set by the city, according to Coles. Because Metro West stayed below that height, construction will be less expensive which allows for a more achievable rent, Coles said.

Coles said this is an important development for people with smaller parcels of land. Unlike companies that own big parcels such as Concord Eastridge Inc., which owns Roosevelt Point on Fourth Street, people with smaller parcels are waiting to see if developing their land will be successful. Union at Roosevelt could provide them with an example.

SCC started as a collaborative in 2010 and joined with the fund in 2011. When projects meet SCC’s qualifications, they meet with both RAZA and LISC to decide who will finance the development. This saves SCC the cost of managing the funds and allows the fund to not be structured.

“We’re not afraid to invent new financial models,” Scutari said.

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