Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Mothership: Centerpoint Condos and the Real State of Tempe Real Estate

by Ken Dahl (printed in Upheaval #1)

Two Tempe Town Lake penthouse condos recently sold – for more than $2.1 mil apiece. I guess some people just can’t pay enough for the smell of stagnant, rotten dam runoff.

And just down the street, something far smellier is wafting in: the Centerpoint Condominiums are slated to begin construction soon, an event which will begin the final, brutal assault on whatever shadow of life still lingers in the woebegone, robocorporate fluff-hole of downtown Tempe.

Once built, these luxury “mixed-use” condos will be weighing in at four towers and twenty-two stories, making them by far the largest structures in the Tempe landscape. And this won’t be your everyday block-long cluster of skyscrapers: with units starting at around $250,000, this is the kind of place even the Jeffersons aren’t likely to be moving on up to.

But hey, look at all the crazy, decadent rich-person shit you get: in addition to a 1,300-space parking garage (secured, natch!), residents get access to a wine lounge, a fitness center, at least two spas, yoga and pilates studios, an “electronic lounge,” two in-house movie theaters, “deluxe meal[s] cooked by full-time resident chef Troy Thivierge,” concierge service, and an “urban beach with sand and shaded patio.” Wow – it’s Beverly Hills in a box!

To get a better idea of just how bad Tempe will soon suck for normal people, here’s Ken Losch, principal of Avenue Communities and one of the project’s high priests:
We spent over a year researching and touring more than 200 properties across North America and there is no other project of this magnitude in the United States or Canada.... Centerpoint will have a spectacular international and cosmopolitan appearance, but it will also have a strong sense of community that is lacking in so many other developments.

Oh sure, it’ll have a “strong sense of community.” Just don’t ever dream of being a part of this community – that is, unless your idea of home is hanging out with pedicured, ruling-class caucasian golf enthusiasts in a fucking country club biodome.

And hey, maybe if the rest of us are lucky we can get hired at one of the dozens of Starbucks they’re sure to plant in every corner of the “exclusive amenity level,” so the yuppie fucks won’t even have to descend to street level to get their half-decaf skim McLattes.

All of this is already pretty nauseating; but, if you can stomach it, try sampling this last little nugget of corporate corpulence:
In addition, the Valley’s first true urban grocery will encompass the majority of the first floor of phase one. The 16,000 square-foot gourmet grocery, deli and café will further connect the residents to downtown Tempe by offering a service that currently does not exist.

If tears of incomprehension and rage are not yet streaming down your crumpled face, it is because you haven’t heard that, just down the street, another condo project (this one a mere 16 stories) has bought out the Gentle Strength Co-op’s parcel of land. Gentle Strength, of course, is Tempe’s current “gourmet grocery, deli and café”! But I guess there’s not much we can say about that now – the co-op’s own management negotiated the sale of their property to the developers. Thanks, y’all! Nothing says “community empowerment” like selling out an entire neighborhood to corporate greed.

For a better idea of the delusions and hypocrisy this town employs to justify such a stratospheric level of development, check out what Jan Schaefer, Tempe’s economic development administrator, had to say about the oh-so modest and historically sensitive architecture of University Ave’s Chase Manhattan building (just across the street from the future Cosmo Building and the Centerpoint Condos):

We knew that they wanted to build a very nice building... The intention was to look at historic buildings and build something that would mesh.

“Mesh” you say, Jan? Mesh, you flippant, facetious profit-face? Anyone who has seen the Chase building knows that the only way that soul-crippling monstrosity could ever “mesh” is if it was stuffed into the world’s most giant blender with one hundred million Lexus SUVs and the exhumed corpse of JP Morgan. This is what happens when you live in a city so eager and willing to sell itself out that it takes real-estate developers and multinational banking institutions at their word.

Of course, the sick irony of this is that soon, the entire landscape surrounding the Chase Manhattan building will be mutated and debased enough to “mesh” around this one awful building – as soon as these gentrifying land-pimps and spineless bureaucrats finally get around to burying the entire rest of our town under identically awful blue-mirrored peach & teal monoliths.

This is the future, my friends – and you weren’t invited!

If you have computer access, this publication strongly recommends that you educate and enrage yourself about Tempe projects such as the Centerpoint Condos, the Cosmo Building, and the Chase building. For a start, check out and index.shtml#1> to get a firsthand look of what our town is going to look like, post-Centerpoint.

If you’re without access to the web, there’s another easy way to get information about the Centerpoint Condos: walk down to the parking lot on 5th & Farmer. On the east side of the lot – right in front of the patio seating at Z’Tejas – there’s a trailer-sized billboard covered with advertising for the condos, complete with a giant television screen playing a continuous loop of a commercial for the project. It’s the same ad that they show on their website, and it’s playing to passersby at most times of the day and night.

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