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PHOENIX–Frustrated and tired of months of political wrangling, the developer of a $575-million mixed-use project that is anchored by a professional hockey arena says he may not build it in Scottsdale after all. He is currently talking with Tempe officials about putting it there instead.

Developer Steve Ellman says he met with Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano and some of the city’s economic development team to pitch them on the idea of having the facility along the shores of the Tempe Town Lake, a two-mile long lake near downtown Tempe and Arizona State University. Ellman says the new arena could also be used by the ASU basketball team and for other indoor sports.

“We’re talking to a lot of people,” Ellman says. “We’re going to get the best deal for the Phoenix Coyotes and the taxpayers. We’re still committed to Scottsdale, but the city council is making it tough.” If located in Tempe, the arena-anchored complex would be built on land between Rural Road and Mill Avenue, on a parcel that is almost entirely owned by ASU.

“That is a great area down there,” says Patrick Flynn, Tempe’s chief financial officer. “They showed us a mock-up of what it would look like, with an arena, an entertainment center, retail and restaurants. We’re keeping our options open.”

Ellman also has looked at land on the Salt River Indian Reservation. This parcel is just east of Scottsdale, near the intersection of the Loop 101 and the Red Mountain Freeway and adjacent to the popular Casino Arizona.

The ice hockey arena, where the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes would play, is the cornerstone of the $575-million project, which would include several hundred thousand square feet of retail and office space, restaurants, theaters and residential lofts. The 72-acre site in Scottsdale is at the southeast corner of Scottsdale and McDowell roads, where the former Los Arcos Mall once stood.

Scottsdale officials have continually demanded to see Ellman’s books, but have been rebuffed over and over again.

Ellman and partner Wayne Gretzky are in the midst of purchasing the hockey team for $87 million. Ellman says the deal for the team will close by Oct. 15.

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