Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Herberger high-rise in downtown Phoenix?

The Herberger Theater's president would like to see a high-rise sprout on the half acre of green on the east side of the landmark. But early city concerns could mean curtains for the idea. A major development could provide financial security for the Herberger, says Dick Bowers, president of the Herberger Theater Center. The Herberger sits on prime downtown real estate: it stands between the $350 million, 32-story Sheraton hotel under construction and the Phoenix Convention Center, which is in the midst of a $600 million expansion.

“Downtown is booming and we want to play a role in that,” says Bowers, who adds that a hotel, condo or office tower, shops and performance space could go in the project. The nonprofit that operates the Herberger has received queries from developers who are interested in the spot, Bowers said. But a shovel can’t go in the ground without the city’s OK. Phoenix owns the dirt under the Herberger and the theater itself, said City Manager Frank Fairbanks. “Everywhere downtown we see towers rising,” Fairbanks said. “What we are not seeing downtown is cultural space. We should view that land as a cultural resource.” That land could be used to expand the theater expansion, furnish offices for performance groups or open a restaurant for theatergoers.