Pivotal Group gets planners’ OK for office-retail village in Phoenix

Commission recommends The Central Park project, with revisions

Pivotal Gets Planners’ OK for The Central Park in Phoenix
Pivotal Group CEO Francis Najafialong with an aerial view rendering of the planned project at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road in Phoenix (Getty, Pivotal Group, Withey Morris Baugh PLC)

Pivotal Group has moved forward with plans to build an office-retail village in Phoenix with several changes in its latest version.

The locally based developer was endorsed by the city’s Planning Commission to build The Central Park, an 18-acre office campus with shops, restaurants and homes at Central Avenue and Indian School Road, between Midtown and Uptown, the Phoenix Business Journal reported. It would replace a vacant lot.

The project next to Steele Indian School Park was given numerous revisions after input from commissioners, residents and Pivotal’s land-use attorneys. The City Council is slated to review the plan, intended to create a “walkable, vibrant, mixed-use setting,” next month.

Revised plans for The Central Park include 245,000 square feet of offices, nearly 78,000 square feet of ground-floor shops and restaurants and 1,450 condominiums and apartments. The retail component features a grocery store.

During the lengthy public comment discussion, neighborhood opposition focused on the updated stipulations proposed by Pivotal Group. 

Key changes include a reduction in the public pedestrian plaza/open space area, the introduction of a minimum 40-foot-wide pedestrian corridor, and a decrease in the minimum percentage of public open space from 30 percent to 20 percent.

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Specific orientations of public open spaces were also changed.

The heart of the project is the open space plaza, designed as the central gathering point with landscaped areas, trees, seating and artwork. Benjamin Tate, a land-use attorney involved in the project, emphasized the significance of seizing the current opportunity to make The Central Park a vibrant hub for uptown and midtown Phoenix.

Pivotal Group, led by CEO Francis Najafi, has worked on The Central Park for over four years, with the City Council approving a rezoning application in 2019. 

But the pandemic disrupted the initial plans, leading to a reevaluation of the project. Pivotal Group’s collaboration with California-based AO Architects as the project designer underscores the commitment to bringing a revitalized vision to fruition.

Despite the Planning Commission’s recommendation, the project has faced challenges, including an appeal by local resident Ken Waters urging a continuance for the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department to formally review the project. 

Some residents also criticized Pivotal Group’s outreach efforts regarding the new plans. As the project advances to the City Council, the fate of The Central Park hinges on further deliberations and approvals.

— Dana Bartholomew

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