Tempe to redevelop former Food City site into affordable housing

Tempe plans to transform a shopping center along Apache Boulevard into a new hub with affordable housing and ground-floor commercial space.


Elected leaders unanimously approved purchasing Pollack Apache Central Center for $10.7 million in a special meeting on Monday. The acquisition will be paid for with unrestricted general fund dollars.The shopping center, on a 3-acre site near Apache Boulevard and Dorsey Lane, was anchored by Food City, which closed in October because of poor financial performance.


 Other tenants include Family Dollar and a barbershop.The city wants to redevelop the property into affordable or workforce apartments with a new grocery store and a community space on the first floor.


This stretch of Apache has long been eyed by the city for redevelopment. It has become a hotspot for off-campus student housing and large apartments because of its location along the Valley Metro light rail.More recently, the city has focused on developing affordable housing and transitional housing in the area. 


The city owns several properties on Apache between Rural Road and Loop 101 that will be transformed into as many as 325 apartments and 50 homes and earlier this year purchased an old motel that will be used to house people experiencing homelessness.Mayor Corey Woods, who has been a proponent of using innovative ideas to increase the city’s housing stock, said the benefits of redeveloping the shopping center are twofold. 


The new development will address food insecurity in an area considered a food desert and create additional housing options.“Anyone who wants to live in Tempe should be able to. We are working hard to make that a reality for more people and more families,” Woods said. “We are excited about the opportunity to bring a grocery store back to the neighborhood, along with more community services that benefit current and future residents in the area.”


No construction timeline


Apache Central Center is a 44,100-square-foot retail center owned and managed by Valley developer Michael Pollack.


It serves one of the city’s most diverse communities.About 8,000 people live in the area around the plaza, including approximately 3,200 students, in student housing, apartments and single-family homes. Some 23% of the population is Asian, 21% Hispanic or Latino and more than 7% Black and has a lower median household income compared with the city’s, the city has said.


There are no immediate plans for redevelopment and no construction timeline has been identified, Tempe spokesperson Susie Steckner said.


The property will need to be rezoned from commercial to mixed-use with residential housing before construction starts.It hasn’t yet been determined whether the plaza will be razed or incorporated into future development. It also hasn’t been decided whether the city will partner with a developer to redevelop the property or if the city will lease or sell the property to a developer, Steckner said.


Tempe will close on the property by Dec. 30, according to a copy of the purchase and sale agreement.The city is in the process of reviewing existing leases with the six retail tenants and scheduling meetings with tenants to notify them of the ownership change.City staff will begin working to locate a new grocery tenant for the site. 


The Food City closure raised alarm among Tempe residents who were concerned it would leave residents with limited options and force them to travel farther to more expensive grocery stores.Tenants, residents in the surrounding neighborhoods and other stakeholders will have input as planning for the development begins, Steckner said.


Reach reporter Paulina Pineda at paulina.pineda@azcentral.com or 480-389-9637. Follow her on Twitter @paulinapineda22.

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