Guest Editorial: The Novus Movement: Tempe’s Novus Innovation Corridor Promises Major Growth

by Robert Rich

Anyone traveling through Downtown Tempe may have noticed the developing face-lift spanning from University Drive to Rural Road. While Tempe is no stranger to construction, the Novus Innovation Center promises to completely re-shape the landscape for both residences and businesses close to Arizona State University. The project is dropping its next phase and powering ahead.

Amongst the project’s major additions in the next phase for the community is ASU’s and Catellus’ partnership with Aspen Heights to create a six-story 262-unit luxury apartment complex and Ryan Companies’ plans for a Class-A, six-story, 162,000 square-foot multi-tenant office building on the corner of University Drive and Rural Road.

Novus is going through its initial steps of site improvement and hopes to break soil within the first quarter of 2019, according to Charley Freericks, Senior Vice President of Catellus Development Center and Master Developer of Novus Innovation Center.

The Corridor is part of the overarching Novus Place Project, which also plans to create a new hotel and included/will include significant renovations to the athletic facilities and Sun Devil Stadium at ASU. The Novus Place is envisioned to be a complement to Mill Avenue and an opportunity to provide more internships for ASU-affiliated companies. The 330 acres of developing ASU property is projected to bring in an additional 20,000 jobs and 5,000 new residents.

“This development means we’re going to be able to pay for the investments we’re making in our intercollegiate athletics facilities. We realized that wasn’t enough so we’re going to reinvent that end of the campus and Downtown Tempe to a significant extent, bringing substantial economic potential to the valley.”, Morgan Olson, ASU’s Executive Vice President, Treasurer & Chief Financial Officer says.

The Innovation Corridor is Phase Three in the overall project (Phase 1 involved Marina Heights & Phase 2 re-invented Sun Devil Stadium). Afterwards, the project will focus on the athletic facilities, including the ASU Football practice facility & Karsten Golf Course.

While the added business/internship opportunities will likely prove to be a benign relationship for both prospective companies and students, there is some concern for the potential strain that this may place on the already thinly-stretched infrastructure of Tempe. The University has already made some dubious decisions (such as the Mirabella at ASU Retirement Community and the Greek Leadership Village/fraternity housing) with its recent projects, and parking is already non-existent during the school’s business hours.  As ASU continues to grow, campus life continues to over-reach on its original design intentions. The school’s insistence on focusing in on its Athletics over infrastructure solidifies the fact that the University places its priorities on the bottom-line over the convenience of its existing residences in its quantity-over-quality approach.