Circles developer files demolition permits

Partial demolition could begin on the Circles Records building as early as March 18. (Nicole Neri/DD)
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Developers have officially filed a partial demolition permit for the Circles Records and Tapes building to make way for a mixed-use residential project.

The building cannot be demolished until at least March 18 because of a permit delay on demolition, due to new rules set by a recently passed ordinance. This places a 30-day hold on demolition permits for all historic commercial buildings 50 years or older and properties identified as eligible for historic designation.

RELATED: Demolitions of historic buildings will now require a longer waiting period

Jordan Rose, a representative of Empire Group, the developer on the project, said the group is still pursuing a tax incentive agreement. Rose initially said tax incentive negotiations were reopened but later clarified these weren’t negotiations. A spokesman for the Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department said later the city has only requested additional information and said the city has not reopened negotiations only continued its due diligence and requested additional information to continue fact finding.

Rose said they hope to reach an agreement before the end of the 30 day demolition hold period. Rose said the developers plan to go forward with the demolition at the end of 30 days.

The 69-year-old building, which originally was built for Stewart Motor Company, was previously partially demolished in April, sparking controversy and backlash from community members and the city.

RELATED: Circles developer doubles down on tax break despite city and community opposition

Negotiations with the city for the tax break originally stopped in April. In August, Community and Economic Development director Christine Mackay again recommended the city abstain from negotiations with the developers on tax incentives.

The most recent plans call for partial preservation of the rest of the building including the showroom, mezzanine and rotating spire. It shows that nothing will be built above the showroom.

Rose said in an email that she believes the plans last presented were the same as what are currently being pursued. She said the plans will still preserve the building’s “most significant” aspects, but will also bring density to downtown.

“The owners have agreed to all of the community suggestions that still allow for development of the site, appreciate the public support and now they just need to move forward in building this 19-story building,” Rose said in the email.

In November, the project received its first conditional support for a tax incentive from a neighborhood organization when the Roosevelt Action Association voted to send a letter asking the city to award the property a GPLET tax incentive with further stipulations. Community group Downtown Voices Coalition followed closely behind with its own letter in opposition. The Urban Phoenix project voted to conditionally support, and Evans Churchill Community Association opposed the project.

RELATED:Downtown Voices Coalition opposes a tax incentive for Circles

RELATED: RAA votes to conditionally support a GPLET for Circles

As part of the conditional agreement with the RAA, Empire agreed that if a GPLET agreement is granted, the developers will make $3.1 million in payments over 18 years for historic preservation, and the project will include public art, a “Historic Interpretation Exhibit,” and a guarantee Empire will not sell for at least a year after the agreement is approved.

It is unknown what final agreements would be set with the city if a tax incentive is granted.

Correction: February 22, 2017

An earlier version of the story stated Jordan Rose, a representative of the developers, said they had reopened negotiations with the city. She later clarified they are not in negotiations. The city has only requested additional information to continue fact checking. The story has been updated to reflect this.

Contact the Reporter at Kara.Carlson@asu.edu.

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