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Proposals for Town Lake project, Marriott keep Tempe planners busy

Work on a multimillion-dollar hotel, condo and retail project proposed for Tempe Town Lake could start as soon as next year. The city reviewed the first set of plans for the project last week.

If and when the building begins, it would be a big step for Tempe. The project would become a physical reality. A previous project slated for that site fell through in 2001.

Plans for the Pier 202 project are taking shape, said Michael Barker, one of the lead developers. The amount of office space has doubled from the original plan, and new drawings call for slightly more residential housing. A hotelier is still being identified.

The style hasn't changed. Tempe can still anticipate tony lofts, four-star hotel rooms, shops and restaurants on the shores of the lake.

"It's good progress," Barker said.

"It's an interactive process of looking at their (the city's) planning requirements. . . . All these things will have to be reviewed by the various parties, and we'll go and make adjustments," he said.

When the 27 acres near Rural Road and Rio Salado Parkway went up for sale in April 2005, 10 groups of developers started bidding for rights. Tempe received offers from $9 million to $42 million.

In January, the City Council voted to exclusively negotiate with Pier 202 LLC, a group of home builders, retail developers and consultants based in California. Soon after, Barker's team agreed to pay $42.5 million for the land.

Tempe's planners are in the process of analyzing Pier 202's 15-page packet, which lays out where utilities, soil, grading and other engineering will be. Development Services manager Chris Anaradian oversees this process. He said he anticipates the project could start on grading, drainage and underground parking in 2007.

In other development news, preliminary plans for a Marriott hotel were submitted to Tempe on Nov. 17.

An 11-story Marriott Residence Inn could go in at Fifth Street and Forest Avenue, the site of the now-vacant Bandersnatch brew pub.

The project calls for a parking garage to be built between the hotel and Tempe City Hall to provide parking places for both buildings. The hotel would have about 170 rooms, paired with some retail and office space on the ground level.

If it goes through, the Marriott would be the second solid hotel announcement in a year for downtown Tempe amid many other plans for hotels.

The first was a luxury hotel called Le Meridien that is going to be built on Town Lake in the Hayden Ferry Lakeside development. It is expected to open by Thanksgiving 2008.

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