NHL Coyotes developer sues city of Phoenix for $2.3B

Response to lawsuit against Tempe, Arizona, to thwart entertainment district, including arena

Bluebird Development's Alex Meruelo and a proposed rendering of the project
Bluebird Development's Alex Meruelo and a proposed rendering of the project (Getty, Arizona Coyotes)

The city of Phoenix is on thin ice with the developer behind a proposed entertainment district, which includes a new arena for the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes.

Bluebird Development has filed a $2.3 billion notice of claim against the city, Axios reported.

The developer served the notice in response to a lawsuit Phoenix filed against Tempe, which alleges the proposed district would negatively impact nearby Sky Harbor airport.

A notice of claim is an antecedent to the filing of a full-blown lawsuit against a municipality and gives the parties six months to settle the dispute before further legal action is taken, the outlet said.

In its notice of claim, Bluebird says Phoenix reneged on its promises that it would not stand in the way of the new development.

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Bluebird says it would settle the dispute for $2.3 billion, the outlet reported. Bluebird is also requesting intervenor status in the lawsuit between Phoenix and Tempe. 

Meanwhile, Tempe voters are scheduled to head to the polls on May 16 for a special election to determine whether to OK a $2.1 billion agreement with the Coyotes for the entertainment district, which would include the new arena, restaurants, retail and about 2,000 apartments close to Tempe Town Lake, according to Axios.

An attorney representing Bluebird said in the notice that Phoenix officials acquiesced to the project through statements they made.  

A Sky Harbor spokeswoman said Phoenix was forced to sue after Tempe rejected a settlement that would have permitted the district, but put limitations on future residential development in the area. 

The city of Phoenix also responded with a statement. 

“[W]e can understand and appreciate the developer’s frustration,” the city of Phoenix said in a statement. “But their frustration is misdirected. They should be frustrated with Tempe. After a meeting with the mayors of both Tempe and Phoenix and two negotiations between the city managers of Tempe and Phoenix, we understood that Tempe was open to a reasonable compromise that would protect the airport, the communities around the airport, and allow these developments to proceed.”

— Ted Glanzer

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