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A Fox Restaurant Concept rendering.

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Investing in Tempe

Novus Innovation Corridor Leads the Way to the Future

When California-based gastropub Eureka! debuted in mid-February, it was one more puzzle piece in north Tempe’s transformation from a suburban university town into the Valley’s second-largest urban center.
The restaurant is part of Novus Place, the entertainment district epicenter of the Novus Innovation Corridor, a massive mixed-use development that’s a collaboration between Arizona State University and Catellus Development Corp.

Spanning 355 acres adjacent to Arizona State University (ASU)—from University Drive to Tempe Town Lake, A Mountain to McClintock Drive—the Innovation Corridor is one of seven ASU Innovation Zones, partnerships between the university and public and private organizations and businesses designed to support and promote the surrounding communities.

The corridor land, much of which was previously undeveloped, is owned by ASU.

“It’s an amazing piece of property,” says Charley Freericks, senior vice president of Catellus, the master developer of Novus Innovation Corridor. “And our partnership includes a very important relationship with the City of Tempe because we’re not building facilities for ASU to use. We’re building commercial development on university land. It’s an interesting hybrid.”

The land is leased to businesses on a 99-year ground lease, which means that 100 years from now, the property will still belong to the university. The city, meanwhile, provides building permits, utilities, and emergency services.

The project, which began in 2014, has a 25-year timeline. When complete, the live-work-play destination will bring to Tempe more than 4,000 market-rate homes; thousands of hotel rooms; 6.5 million feet of commercial space; dining, shopping and entertainment options; and public green spaces. And it is estimated to create more than 40,000 jobs by 2035.

“Hotels, apartments, office, retail: We’re trying to have a mix of uses that are super compatible and all in one spot. Eureka! is our first full-service restaurant. It’s part of our concept—the model for a modern urban city,” Freericks says. “We’ll really complete the urban core as it sits today for Tempe.”

The Innovation Corridor is being developed in phases. Phase I was anchored by Marina Heights, a 2-million-square-foot office campus, with an additional 60,000 square feet of retail space. Five monolithic towers, designed around a central plaza, line the shores of Tempe Town Lake, and their shimmering iridescent blue glass facades are instantly identifiable to those driving along the Rio Salado Parkway to the south of the waterway or the 202 to the north.

The second phase gave Sun Devil Stadium a $375 million renovation.

Phase III, which currently is under construction, includes the already-open Hyatt House/Hyatt Place hotel; Mullet Arena; a 1,800-space parking garage; and the 777 Tower office building, whose tenants include Infosys, an information technology consultant firm, and Mediterranean Shipping Co., which recently surpassed Maersk as the world’s largest container shipping company.

“When Dr. Crow [president of ASU] describes the Novus Innovation Corridor, it’s a circle of life concept in which his primary goal is to get companies in here that hire ASU students,” Freericks explains. “So [we're] making sure we’re creating a place that companies want to locate to and be able to take advantage of the great volume of highly employable grads coming out of ASU.”

In a press release announcing the corridor’s economic impact, Crow said, “The benefits to our students, faculty, the university, the City of Tempe and the business community are already being felt—and they will only increase as other visionaries construct new buildings and facilities to provide opportunities within Novus’ framework.”

In addition to housing companies that hire local graduates, the 777 Tower is a model of sustainability. It was awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“ASU is one of the, if not the, most committed of all universities in the country to sustainability. They’re a leader in the pack,” Freericks notes. “As such, sustainability is one of our guiding principles, and all of our buildings are LEED-certified or better.”

Even the sidewalks in the development are constructed from light-colored pavers that will reflect the desert sun’s brutal rays and help reduce urban heat island effects.

Nestled in the core of all this development is Novus Place, the pedestrian-friendly main street shopping district and home to Eureka!, along with bubble tea store The Alley, and fast-casual healthy eatery Nautical Bowls. And outposts of three local chain favorites are in the final stages of construction. Soon, Blanco Cocina + Cantina, North Italia, and Flower Child will be bringing their beloved cuisines to the ASU community.  

“A lot of times when you do a big mixed-use district, you might end up with some stuff that you’re not 100% thrilled with. But we’ve been able to attract some good, high-quality businesses right out of the chute,” Freericks says. “We’re dreaming big, and it’s only going to get better from here.”

  • A Fox Restaurant Concept rendering.
  • Eureka! gastropub
  • Eureka! gastropub
  • A Fox Restaurant Concept rendering.
  • A Fox Restaurant Concept rendering.

“We’ll really complete the urban core as it sits today for Tempe.”

"Sustainability is one of our guiding principles."