City subcommittee recommends approving Knipe House sale

The new proposed development would protect the Knipe house as well as building a mixed-use commercial and residential space. (Rebecca Spiess/DD)

A subcommittee recommended approving contracts to sell the Knipe House and seven neighboring properties to a buyer for $3.56 million early in November.

The buyer, True North LLC, is planning on creating a mixed-use commercial and residential space in the location at Second and Portland streets. This would include a 19-story office building, two five-story buildings for multifamily housing and commercial use, and over 1,200 parking spaces.

True North already controls an adjacent property along First and Portland streets and plans to combine this with the new properties.

Eric Johnson, Phoenix’s deputy director for community development, said he thinks the plan is very comprehensive and addresses many of the issues the surrounding community brought forth during the approval process.

The plan also includes the preservation and reuse of the historic Knipe House.

RELATED: City looks to develop, preserve historic Knipe House property

“I believe their proposal had it being a commercial kind of workspace for the Growhouse,” Johnson said. “The good news is that they’ve accepted our requirement to put a conservation easement on it for 50 years.”

This means that the Knipe House will have guaranteed protection until almost 2070.

Due to the city’s Solicitation and Transparency Policy, which prohibits any developer from communicating with anyone who could be involved in the selection process for a proposal, True North won’t be able to discuss its building plans until the City Council approval process on Nov. 29.

“They don’t want to do anything that could violate that transparent policy,” Gretchen Wolfe, a procurement manager for the City of Phoenix, said. “They probably would be excited to [discuss] development after the decision because they’re very passionate about their building.”

But Johnson was able to elaborate on a few of the plans.

“They’ve proposed some gardening within that landscaped area in the right-of-way, along one of the sides of the buildings,” he said. “It’s a vertical farming concept. So it looks very interesting. We’re excited to see how that works.”

Johnson seemed optimistic about the contract’s future, although details won’t be ironed out until after the City Council meeting.

“There were no changes by the subcommittee, so we’re fairly confident,” Johnson said. “We’re looking forward to the 29th.”

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