Tempe Considers Plans To Develop Hayden Flour Mill
The old Hayden Flour Mill is getting a makeover. The Tempe City Council has preliminary plans to turn the nearly 100-year-old landmark into a hotel and outdoor amphitheater.
The big concrete mill is visible along the north end of Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe. It was built in 1918 and used for flour production for the next 80 years. Since then it’s been vacant.
Darlene Justus of the Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation is excited to see the building getting some attention again after 16 years.
“I think that this could be something great as long as they are sensitive and take care not to destroy that building,” Justus said.
Thursday night Tempe signed an agreement to exclusively negotiate with Baum Development Group. Owner of the company David Baum said the plans are in the very early stages of design but the company specializes in redeveloping historic buildings. The mill has national historic preservation designation and Tempe is working on local designation.
Councilman Kolby Granville is aware of the building's importance to the city’s history.
“Council agrees we have to keep the mill, we have to keep the silos. The way we can afford to do it is wrapping it in development and making the development around it and the tax revenue of that pay for the historic preservation,” Granville said.
The mill sits at the base of Hayden Butte Preserve, also known as A Mountain. The preserve is protected from development above about 1,200 feet. The Tempe City Council wants to make Mill Avenue a vibrant entertainment district adding to the already existing bars and restaurants.
“Twenty years ago that was being done with bars with stages," Granville said. "There aren’t really bars with stages anymore so the city is looking for a way to create venues where we can bring in or work with private vendors to bring in bands and live music to Mill Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Preservationists are cautiously optimistic. Justus wants to make sure historically important parts of the mill are preserved and incorporated into the design.
“If things cannot be used in the mill I hope that they go to the Tempe history museum," Justus said. "But I think it’s very important they tell the story of the Hayden Family.”
Developers have tried to build on the property before with no success. But Granville attributes that to the economy, not the property. The council passed an ordinance Thursday night that requires a developer to do something with the property within two years of buying it.
“The reason we are doing that is because we don’t want someone to buy a piece of land, get some entitlements on it, that add value to the land and basically sit on it, land bank it, do nothing with it and let us just have a vacant parcel,” he said.
If the developer doesn’t at least have a plan for development, they could lose the property. There is no construction timeline and won’t be until the city completes a development deal.