Phoenix, Tempe tensions rise with entertainment district gatherings on the horizon


A dispute between Phoenix and Tempe over a proposed entertainment district and its possible repercussions at Sky Harbor Airport escalated ahead of several public meetings, including a neighborhood meeting scheduled for Saturday.

The entertainment district, proposed for land at Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, would include an arena for the Arizona Coyotes along with residential units, retail and office space, and other development.

A neighborhood meeting about the project, hosted by the developer, Bluebird Development, is scheduled for Saturday, October 15, at 11 am at the Canopy by Hilton, 108 E. University Drive, Tempe.

Sky Harbor officials have said they are not opposed to the professional hockey arena, but Phoenix rejects the concept of having homes “directly below a flight path that was designed to spare Tempe residents the effects of noise from planes”.

Phoenix leaders also said including residential units as part of the project violates a longstanding intergovernmental agreement between the cities.

They reiterated their opposition last week, sending thousands of emails to Tempe residents and others indicating opposition to the airport and the possible effects a project that included housing units would have on the area.

Tempe Mayor Corey Woods called the mailing an “scare tactic.”

“This is not a game, and Tempe residents should not be used as pawns,” he said in a statement. “No one should try to manipulate our community’s basic feelings of safety and security.

“As mayor, I denounce this outrageous tactic in the hope that it will not be repeated and that all stakeholders can calmly and responsibly consider this important matter.”

Woods said Sky Harbor’s statement that multifamily housing in the proposed development would violate a 1994 agreement between the cities is “significantly inaccurate.

“People interested in living on the proposed site would be well informed before making decisions, as would the thousands of other residents adjacent to Tempe Town Lake who have already chosen to live in an area with aircraft noise. Also, they do it in developments that did not see opposition from the airport when they were proposed and built.”

In addition to Saturday’s meeting, the Tempe Development Review Commission will discuss the project on Tuesday, November 15 at 6 p.m. in the Tempe City Council chambers, 31 E. Fifth St.

The chambers will also be the site for two Tempe City Council public hearings, at 6 pm on Tuesdays, November 22 and 29.

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