Santa Fe New Mexican

Indian School site in Phoenix set for $1B project


PHOENIX — Nearly three decades after the closure of a federal boarding school for Native American children, a long-vacant part of its former site in midtown Phoenix is slated for a major developmen­t.

A developer’s plans for the parcel have cleared the City Council, setting the stage for constructi­on of six high-rise towers for 2 million square feet of offices, hundreds of condominiu­ms and other housing units, retail space, a hotel and movie theater.

Phoenix officials say the nearly $1 billion project on about 18 acres along a light rail line on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road represents a big step forward for the city, the Arizona Republic reported.

“It’s going to rival anything we have in the state of Arizona,” Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio said at a July 3 council meeting when zoning changes were approved for the project dubbed “The Central Park.”

The developmen­t will include three outdoor public plazas for events and a public walkway to adjacent Steele Indian School Park.

Jason Morris, a zoning attorney for Pivotal Group, said the developer hopes to begin constructi­on within two years.

Morris said Pivotal Group’s project will include nearly $1 billion in developmen­t when completed.

The park sits on part of the former school site originally acquired by the federal government in the late 1800s, and the portion now tabbed for developmen­t has sat vacant since the school closed in 1990.

The school was used for nearly a century for housing and educating Native American children who in early days were forcibly removed from their tribes’ reservatio­ns.

Pivotal Group obtained the developmen­t site in an auction after the federal government took back the property following a legal dispute with a different developmen­t company that obtained the land in 1996 under a three-way deal that also involved the city.

Morris said there’s been a hiatus in developmen­t in midtown but that the project will spur other developmen­t in the area and help connect downtown Phoenix on the south with uptown Phoenix to the north.

“It’s both a catalyst and a linchpin,” he said.

Rebecca Wininger, a member of a city planning committee, said the project could be a game-changer for midtown.

“I think this has the ability to be an architectu­ral anchor for Phoenix not just in the years to come, but perhaps the decades,” she said.

The council approved the zoning changes unanimousl­y.

“From my perspectiv­e this is an enormously exciting project,” Mayor Kate Gallego said.

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