Tempe residents offered vote on multi-billion dollar entertainment district

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Tempe residents will be able to vote on the Tempe Entertainment District during the city’s May 16, 2023 Special Election, now that the Maricopa County Recorder and Tempe City Clerk certified on Friday that the required number of valid petition signatures were submitted for each of the three referendum items.

Bluebird Development collected more than the needed minimum of 2,134 petition signatures for each of three questions to refer the project to the ballot. If voters approve, the 46-acre project would be built with a planned Arizona Coyotes hockey arena, hotels, multi-family residential, retail and more. The developer will use largely private funding to build the 4 million-square-foot development and, according to the agreement, will pay Tempe $50.3 million for the land. This includes $40 million in non-refundable cash up-front.

Developer investment is expected to be US$2.1bn, with remediation and public infrastructure costs capped at US$229bn. The arena and music venue will have a 30-year Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET) abatement period, while other project components will have an eight-year GPLET abatement period.

If approved, the development will arrive in four phases, the first of which will include construction of a 650,000 ft2 arena  with 16,000 seats and 54,000 ft2 of retail; minimum 1,100 parking spaces; 1,500 ft2 emergency response and public safety facility. The total economic impact of the project over 30 years is estimated to be US$13.6bn, with projected revenues to the city over 30 years lying at US$350mn in sales taxes and US$40m in property taxes. The city will spend about $199 million of this amount over 30 years repaying the Community Facilities District bonds for the public infrastructure.

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