At a February 10 Council meeting, the City of Tempe authorized a step to negotiate with Sunbelt Holdings and Venue Projects to create a plan for the preservation and redevelopment of the 5-acre Hayden Flour Mill property adjacent to the Hayden (Tempe) Butte Preserve.
The City of Tempe said that a committee composed of members of the Tempe Historic Preservation Commission, the Tempe Historic Foundation, the Four Southern Tribes, the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office and City of Tempe staff chose the proposal by Scottsdale-based Sunbelt Holdings and Phoenix-based Venue Projects after issuing RFP (request for proposal) No. 22-050 on September 10, 2021.
The RFP was for the “lease and development of city-owned land consisting of approximately 5 acres comprising the Hayden Flour Mill located at the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, Arizona.”
Tempe Butte, also known in O’odham as Oidbaḍ Do’ag and in Piipaash as Xwe Nyakuuly, is a culturally significant site for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Four Southern Tribes of Arizona.
A December 2021 O’odham Action News article analyzed a proposed educational park plan by Tempe resident Peter Buseck that had backing from the SRPMIC Tribal Historic Preservation Office and assistance from now-former City of Tempe historic preservation officer John Southard.
The plan would have featured educational signage featuring O’odham and Piipaash vocabulary words and would have included the reintroduction of native plants that are culturally significant to the O’odham and Piipaash.
Buseck’s park plan was suddenly ignored by the City of Tempe, and the RFP came out the same day the conceptual plan for the park was submitted.
The City of Tempe had no comment on what happened with Buseck’s proposed plan or whether it was received by the proper channels at the city.
Now, a series of community discussions will be held by Venue Projects and Sunbelt Holdings to hear what type of development residents might like to see at the flour mill site. The new proposed plan includes uses such as specialty retail, food and beverage, events, arts, offices and hospitality.
The development plans to submit the mill for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I’m excited to see what Venue Projects and Sunbelt Holdings will design for the Hayden Flour Mill. This is such a creative team and they have made an incredible impact on our community,” said Tempe Mayor Corey Woods. “Development that values the history of the Hayden Flour Mill, the cultural significance of Hayden Butte Preserve and the well-being of our residents can truly benefit our whole city.”
In-depth discussions between city staff and the development team will proceed with the aim of creating a draft development agreement for the Council’s consideration at a future public meeting. There is no precise timeline for when the matter will come back to the Council. The City of Tempe said that if a development agreement is approved by the City Council, the redevelopment project could be completed in phases over the next three to four years.