AZ Republic – Hyatt Regency hotel to open in Tempe

by Dianna M. Náñez – Sept. 25, 2008 01:05 PM
The Arizona Republic

Tempe is set to get the third Hyatt Regency hotel in the state.

Mayor Hugh Hallman surprised even his fellow council members when he announced the hotel deal Wednesday at his annual State of the City address.

“I found out this morning like everybody else,” Councilwoman Onnie Shekerjian said following Hallman’s address to more than 400 people at the Tempe Chamber of Commerce-hosted event.

“How many other cities in the Valley, in this economic downturn, can boast that they’re getting a Hyatt Regency?” she said.

Hallman said the Regency would be built by 2011 and would have 240 guest rooms, 24 condos, 13,000 square feet of meeting space and a 5,000-square-foot ballroom.

The Hyatt has several of its middle-end hotels located in the Valley, including one in Tempe, but only Phoenix and Scottsdale are home to high-end Regency hotels. The Hotel Regency Phoenix is downtown near the Phoenix Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch is in north Scottsdale.

Tod Decker, a developer and property owner of the Regency Tempe site, said the Hyatt targeted the Hayden Ferry Lakeside project, near the intersection of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado, because of the convenient location.

“It’s on the (Tempe Town) Lake, near Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, a block from light rail . . . (and) near the (Arizona State) University,” he said.

Decker said sealing the Regency deal took about two-and-a-half years of negotiations among Decker’s Valhalla Development Group, Hayden Ferry Lakeside master developer SunCor and the Hyatt.

The Hyatt and Valhalla are finalizing documents for the deal, he said, but construction is expected to begin in the summer.

Hallman acknowledged Tempe residents have seen plans for Town Lake hotels fail before. But he said the Hyatt and SunCor were solid businesses that rarely announce unlikely deals.

“They don’t need the press,” he said.

Decker had courted a Le Meridien hotel for the site but that deal fell through this summer. While several hotels are vying for space near the lake, Hallman said the four-star Regency hotel would fill a niche luxury market.