Why Tempe’s $1.8B ‘South Pier’ project won’t hit the ballot

Via South Pier Tempe Holdings

By Sam Kmack | Arizona Republic

Tempe Town Lake will now have a Santa Monica-style Ferris wheel on its shore after a local advocacy group abandoned its effort to put an upcoming $1.8 billion development on the ballot, an abrupt change after a year of tense court battles that got as far as the Arizona Supreme Court.

The project, called South Pier at Tempe Town Lake, will be located on Vista Del Lago Drive on 12 acres of property near the lake’s south bank. It’s an empty plot of mostly city-owned land that developers hope to transform into an upscale “resort-inspired” community with apartments, stores and restaurants over the next decade.

A group called Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy took issue with the project’s lack of on-site affordable housing — especially given the eight-year property tax break it was slated to receive — and collected thousands of signatures to send the deal to voters after the City Council greenlit the project last March.

That move sparked a series of disputes that eventually landed Tempe in the state’s highest court.

The city rejected CASE’s petition. Staffers argued that the signature form was invalid because it wasn’t organized properly, and that development deals are “administrative” issues rather than a “legislative” ones that can be referred to voters.


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