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PHOENIX-One of the Valley’s most active developers plans to build a 250,000-sf office project, Opus Cotton Center, near Sky Harbor Airport. Opus West Corp. is in escrow on a 10-acre parcel in the Cotton Center, a 281-acre business park at the southwest corner of 48th Street and Broadway Road. The purchase, which totals $3.5 million for the 10 acres, is set to close in September. The parcel is on the park’s north side.

Opus’ first phase will bring flexible office buildings of 66,000 sf and 53,000 sf, Keith Earnest, a senior director of real estate development, tells GlobeSt.com. Construction is set to begin in October, with an opening by May 2002.

“There are just several amenities that are in place and that are coming that are attracting people to the Cotton Center,” Earnest says. “It’s near the airport and adjacent to transportation. And, being in the middle of town is a big consideration.”

The retail portion of the business park, at the southwest corner of 48th Street and Broadway Road, is beginning to see some activity and should have a number of fast food restaurants opening in the near term, Earnest says. A business class hotel is coming in the near future to the 48th Street area.

Opus’ initial buildings will be divisible down to 10,000 sf and carry a five spaces per 1,000-sf ratio. The Phoenix office of Grubb & Ellis, with brokers Steve Mardian and Brian Lee, is handling the project’s leasing. Opus also has an option for an abutting 10-acre parcel, where the plan is to build two more office buildings once leasing has progressed on the first phase, Earnest says.

Park amenities, including fiber optics, are sure to pique interest from tenants in high-tech manufacturing to sales. “The dynamics of the neighborhood have changed, it’s a nice place to do business,” Earnest says.

The area along Broadway Road was once one of the Valley’s seedier areas, but recent development has changed its image. Just two years ago, JDMD-Apollo Venture LLC started the turnaround with the Cotton Center. The developer’s investors include David Eaton, Mel Shultz, Dale Jensen and Jerry Colangelo, owner of the Phoenix Suns and managing partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. New York City-based Apollo Fund is also an investor as is Tucson-based Don Diamond.

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