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TEMPE, AZ-The Vale Condominiums, a 50-unit mixed-use project, has broken ground in Tempe with estimates for a June 2005 completion. With 49 units already reserved, the $11-million project features the architectural design handiwork of internationally acclaimed Will Bruder of Phoenix.

“It’s mostly different in the architecture and its feel,” Nicole Roberts, project developer with Beck Development LLC of Phoenix, tells GlobeSt.com. “I think this is my first endeavor to show a buyer a really good design and hire a really good architect and do it in a competitive way. Our prices are in the low- to mid-range area so there isn’t a premium.”

Located at 1111 W. University Dr., Vale Condominiums will feature 46 lofts in 622-sf to 2,200-sf designs, with prices ranging from $149,800 for studio units up to $510,000 for the largest three-bedroom unit. Of the residential units, seven have been set aside as live-work units. The project also includes four retail condos, priced at $167,800 for a 698-sf, street-level shop to $489,000 for a 2,078-sf storefront. The project’s 11 buildings sit on about 1.6 acres.

Closing on the lot earlier this year, Roberts received financing from Stearns Bank Arizona of Scottsdale. She also rezoned the property from residential to a mixed-use general zoning to accommodate her plans–the first rezoning of its kind in Tempe, she says. A mixture of two-, three- and four-story buildings will overlook a garden courtyard and patios. Other planned amenities include a fitness center, lap pool and underground parking. The target market for retail condos is a bakery or cafe, grocery store, bookshop or video store.

Roberts has received 49 commitments already for the residential units and expects to enter escrow within the month. The project’s design coupled with its competitive prices have generated healthy interest.

“We’re getting a lot of first-time buyers. Interest rates have been a big driver,” Roberts says. “The buyer is sensitive to the architecture and design.”

Bruder is known for his palette of unconventional, upscale and modern residences nationally. Jarson & Jarson LLC of Phoenix is handling marketing and Phoenix-based Wespac Communities Inc. is the general contractor.

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