New apartments will replace a vacant city-owned lot in downtown Phoenix by summer 2015.

The City Council approved the sale of the 23,000-square-foot lot, on First Avenue north of McDowell Road, by the Arizona Opera for $350,000 to developer artHAUS at its July 3 meeting.

Jeremy Legg, economic-development program manager for the Community and Economic Development Department, said the city bought the land in 2011 for the Arizona Opera but later realized the project wouldn’t need the west third of the lot.

In February, the department issued a call for proposals to develop the lot with a transit-oriented project, which tends to be densely populated and pedestrian-friendly. A review panel unanimously selected the artHAUS plan for a three-story, 30- unit, $5.5 million development in March.

“This is exactly what we’ve wanted,” Legg said. “It’s good to see some of these things kind of come to fruition and this become a popular area.”

Jason Boyer, developer and architect of the apartments, said the lot has great potential.

“I think what’s really exciting about the area is that first and foremost, it’s a great infill opportunity,” Boyer said. “It’s got a lot going for it. It’s at a great location.”

Legg said that adding more residential areas downtown is a key part of the downtown strategic plan and that developers are increasingly pursuing redevelopment opportunities rather than building in the suburbs.

“We’re seeing more developers who really get that,” Legg said. “We’re seeing more people who want to live in the core rather than commute from the edge of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.”

Boyer said the apartments will bring something he thinks downtown is missing: housing for young professionals.

“The intention is a modern, sustainably designed project that appeals to the sensibilities of young professionals and people living in the downtown or midtown area,” he said.

Boyer said the growing need for this type of apartment and the improving real-estate market led to the right timing to buy this lot.

Unit sizes will range from 500 to 1,500 square feet, and the design will emphasize indoor-outdoor connections, including outdoor patio space and floor-to-ceiling glazing.

The location is near the McDowell/Central Avenue Light Rail Station, Margaret T. Hance Park and the Phoenix Art Museum.

Boyer said that he is designing the apartments with sustainability in mind and that he likely will pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

City officials expect to rezone the lot to urban residential by December and construction will begin next April. Boyer said he anticipates construction will take 10 to 12 months, and tenants can move in by summer 2015.

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