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Downtown campus construction enters new phase


July 12, 2007

Downtown Phoenix’s scenery these days is as much a scene of construction cranes as it is skyscrapers defining the skyline, but the payoff will soon be evident.

As the city’s core takes shape, key ASU and Phoenix buildings and projects are coming to fruition. Although many are in beginning stages, plans call for innovative buildings, peaceful streetscapes and new residential structures for students.

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Central Avenue and Taylor Street is starting to sprout, with the foundation of the building completed. Workers are building on the 223,000-square-foot, six-story building that will house Eight/KAET-TV, Arizona’s PBS affiliate, as well as newsrooms, computer labs and television studios. Completion is scheduled for fall 2008.

Those who want to keep a day-to-day eye on the construction of this new facility can do so through a live Web cam located online at http://cronkitebuilding.asu.edu.

Changes also are on tap near the end of the decade at the post office at Central Avenue and Fillmore Street. Preliminary plans call for a veranda along the south side of the building where concerts, outdoor films and other activities can take place. As the post office continues to evolve, it eventually will house student-union facilities.

Just south of the post office is a roughly 3-acre civic space that will become a park for students and the public as it takes shape under the direction of the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.

“We’ve just selected the construction firms for the work,” says Jason Harris, acting deputy director of the Phoenix Downtown Development Office. “We are still finalizing the conceptual design.”

Improvements to the space are expected in 2008.

Another outdoor space due for renovation is Taylor Street, where improvements are under way between Second and Third streets. A narrower street, landscaping, public art and enhanced sidewalks will be featured in the pedestrian-friendly environment scheduled for first-phase completion in August.

“You’re going to see public art actually embedded in the sidewalk and design of the benches,” Harris says.

Additional phases include building a pedestrian mall along Taylor Street from Central Avenue to First Street, and improvements between First and Second streets.

New student housing is going up just north of the Residential Commons between First and Second streets on Taylor Street. The first tower will rise 13 stories high, with 750 beds available during the initial phase scheduled to open during the fall of 2008. An additional 550 beds in a second tower should be open by the fall of 2009.

Phase 2 of nursing is in the planning stages, with requests for design and build applications going out early this month. Nursing labs, offices and classrooms are among features of the new project to be constructed at Second and Fillmore streets just north of the College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation.