Lofty Goals: Developer, Broker Look to Bring Affordable, Urban Living to Phoenix

Article originally posted on Phoenix Business Journal on December 12, 2016

Saul Siegel and Kristin Bickley want to bring something very different to what is becoming a very different downtown Phoenix.

Siegel is developing and Bickely is helping him sell affordable, for-sale lofts in a planned development on the west side of downtown.

Siegel’s Capitol Lofts are slated to be built on Washington Street in between Ninth and 10th avenues. That’s in between downtown and the Arizona Capitol.

What makes the development different is that Siegel has loft designs with 20-foot ceilings and he’s pricing them starting at $165,000.

He’s also looking at $100 per month HOA fees for the 65-unit loft development.

Both the sales price — and the homeowners association fees — are a far cry from the higher-end pricing seen for other new downtown developments.

“Nothing was under $200,000,” Siegel said of the downtown Phoenix.

Downtown Phoenix has seen some big changes the past decade with Metro light rail, CityScape, Arizona State University’s downtown campus and an expanded Phoenix Convention Center.

That has brought more activity and new residential developments to the central business district. But most of the new apartments and condos coming to downtown and the Roosevelt Row area are more expensive. Downtown now has apartment rents that rival Scottsdale and the Biltmore area.

That’s a script flip for downtown Phoenix which for years was a ghost town after 5 p.m. and was often surrounded by lower income neighborhoods.

“There isn’t a lot downtown that is affordable,” Siegel said.

Siegel — a development veteran who’s also done work in California — said he wants to bring downtown housing options to government workers, young professionals and other downtown workers.

“The guy at Starbucks can afford a place,” Siegel said.

Buyers with incomes of $27,000 or more can potentially qualify for the mortgages.

The Capitol Lofts will total 65 units. The lofts will be between 571 and 869 square feet.

Siegel also hopes his lofts help spark more development in between downtown and the State Capitol.

Construction is slated to start next year with the project delivering in the summer of 2018.

Phoenix-based CCBG Architects — which has done some other notable urban-minded projects — is designing the project.

Bickley with Realty Executives Forum is the broker for the Capitol Lofts projects.

She said the project’s webpage is receiving a dozen leads per hour and 95 percent are first-time home buyers.

Bickley said there is also a demand for urban styled lofts in Phoenix. Lofts are popular in other big U.S. cities but haven’t really found a foothold in more suburban and spread out Phoenix.