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PHOENIX-Picerne Communities, an apartment and condominium developer based here, will break ground in the next 45 days on an $18-million, 136-unit apartment complex near the western end of the Rio Salad Project, a vast multi-use recreational development that has a two-mile long lake as its centerpiece.

“We believe that there is an underserved market for homes in Downtown Tempe,” says Andy Miller, a senior vice president with Picerne. “It is smack dab in the epicenter of the Valley. We also think that there is a long pent-up demand for housing overlooking the town lake. It’s just something that just isn’t available anywhere else.”

The Regatta Pointe Condominiums are being developed on a parcel on the south side of the Rio Salado Parkway, west of Ash Avenue. The project is near both Downtown Tempe and Arizona State University, and is set back from the lake by several hundred feet.

Miller believes that the project central location will be as much a draw as the 1.5 billion gallon lake. The nearby Loop 202 connects with every major thoroughfare in the Valley and Sky Harbor International Airport and is just five minutes drive to the west.

Picerne, through its Regatta Pointe LLC, plans to build one- and two-bedroom units, ranging size from 760 to 1,500 sf. Prices will start in the low $100,000 and will go up to the mid $200,000. The first units are expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2001. Phoenix-based Todd & Associates is the project architect.

The city poured the last of 1.5 billion gallons of water into the lake last and have patiently waited for development to arrive. Although a number of deals have fallen through, interest has begun heating up as more and more residents have recognized the recreational potential of the lake and surrounding public space.

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