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In a space abandoned,
now it's all business

Developers plan to convert flour mill and surrounding area into offices, stores and restaurants

 by Jonathan J. Cooper
 published on Friday, March 2, 2007

MILL AVENUE MILL: A plane flies over Hayden Flour Mill in downtown Tempe Thursday. The city of Tempe is currently meeting with developers to discuss redeveloping the historic local landmark, which dates back to 1874./issues/news/700102
Christopher Atwood / THE STATE PRESS
MILL AVENUE MILL: A plane flies over Hayden Flour Mill in downtown Tempe Thursday. The city of Tempe is currently meeting with developers to discuss redeveloping the historic local landmark, which dates back to 1874.
 

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Hayden Flour Mill's stark, fire-charred walls stand out among the vibrant and colorful Mill Avenue storefronts that form Tempe's core.

It's the third of its kind to stand there. The other two burned to the ground around the turn of the 20th century.

It burned once again in 2002, four years after the last bags of flour rolled off the assembly line.

But a developer's proposal, approved by the city council Thursday, aims to breathe new life into one of Tempe's oldest structures, bringing new stores and offices to link the mill of Tempe's past with the Mill Avenue of Tempe today.

"It will be a new gateway into Tempe," said Hut Hutson, a city council member.

Developers plan to build about 65,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space using the existing historic structures and new ones that would be built. Residential units may be added down the road.

Plans for the first phase call for a six-story addition to wrap around the existing core structure, built in 1917. Together, the buildings would form the restaurant and office space, documents showed.

Breezeways and atriums would separate the new and old buildings.

Retail buildings would flank Mill Avenue with tenants that include a winery and oyster bar, as well as a bakery that will mill its own flour, the documents stated.

The developers are working out plans for the second phase, which will probably be revealed in the next four months, said Ken Losch of Avenue Communities, the developer which is also building the 30-story Centerpoint Condominiums near Mill Avenue and Sixth Street.

The varying building heights allow the development to gradually grow from Mill Avenue to the top of Hayden Butte, documents stated.

The plan calls for a new traffic light on Mill Avenue at Second Street, which would be the primary vehicle entrance. It also includes parking spaces for Hayden Butte hikers, which the city required in its development agreement.

"It's a huge moment, huge opportunity with the city," Losch said.

Developers have until 2009 to begin construction but will begin as soon as possible, he added.

The plans are "very bold, very creative," said Bob Gasser, chair of Tempe Historic Preservation Commission.

"From a historic preservation standpoint, it's great," Gasser said. "When you look at it you'll know instantly what's new."

Reach the reporter at: jonathan.cooper@asu.edu.



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