Mixed-use development project holds groundbreaking ceremony

Shannon Scutari, director of the Sustainable Communities Collaborative; Councilman Michael Nowakowski; Matt Seaman, partner of Metrowest Development; Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; Doug Gannett, partner of Metrowest Development; and Councilwoman Kate Gallego formalize the groundbreaking ceremony for construction on the Union @ Roosevelt lot Wednesday morning. (Nikiana Medansky/DD)
Shannon Scutari, Michael Nowakowski, Matt Seaman, Greg Stanton, Doug Gannett and Kate Gallego at the groundbreaking ceremony on the Union @ Roosevelt lot Wednesday morning. (Nikiana Medansky/DD)

Downtown residents — and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton — can finally answer one question that has long been on their minds when going down Roosevelt Street after ground broke for a new set of apartments.

“What the heck’s going to happen to that crazy triangle piece at First and Roosevelt?” Stanton asked the crowd of city officials, local business owners and media at the groundbreaking ceremony for new apartments at a lot on First Avenue and Roosevelt Street on Wednesday morning.

MetroWest Development is set to start construction on “Union @ Roosevelt,” one of the first mixed use projects on the southern side of the Roosevelt neighborhood. Once construction begins, the project will take about 16 to 18 months to complete and should be finished in the fall of 2016.

Before the ceremony, it was a vacant lot on First Avenue and Roosevelt Street, but soon it will have 80 apartments with approximately 9,200 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space, Matthew Seaman, a partner at MetroWest Development, said.

“I think this is a representation of how we can take vacant lots and infill areas that are so critical to the neighborhoods and bring them back to a pedestrian focus in a neighborhood scale,” he said.

The project started about three and a half years ago, when the idea was proposed by Seaman and fellow MetroWest partner, Doug Gannett, to organizations like the Sustainable Communities Collaborative and the city council.

Related: Mixed-use development to fill empty lot on Roosevelt after 50 years of vacancy

Funding came from LISC Phoenix — a community development organization — and the Raza Development Fund, which each contributed $10 million to contribute to fostering the idea of the Union @ Roosevelt project.

“On behalf of LISC Phoenix, we look forward to working with all our partners to continue this momentum and create more equitable, transit-oriented developments here in Phoenix,” said Bryce Lloyd, chair of LISC Phoenix’s local advisory council.

District 8 Councilwoman Kate Gallego called Seaman a “pioneer” and further emphasized the need to have close access to transit.

“Matt is a local developer, invested in very small business,” she said. “He’s done a lot of work downtown, lives downtown, so it’s exciting to have a local success story.”

Gallego noted that the construction of Union @ Roosevelt would not be in the suburban style of having parking spaces feet away from the sidewalk, but instead would be built closer to the sidewalk in a way that “makes sense for a downtown.” In addition, the ground-floor restaurants below the housing units will serve to further differentiate the building from its surroundings.

In addition to city officials, the Roosevelt Action Association, Grid Bike Share and Short Leash Hot Dogs were among the organizations present at the event to support the development.

Brad Moore, the owner of Short Leash, said that the development will have a positive effect on everyone involved in downtown Phoenix.

“I think it’s an exciting time to be a part of downtown Phoenix,” Moore said.

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