PHOENIX – Thanks to an innovative public-private partnership, construction is set to begin on turning the former site of a movie theater in Flagstaff into a new Arizona Department of Transportation facility while freeing up prime land for redevelopment.
The state’s first public-private partnership involving real estate brought together ADOT, the city of Flagstaff and Vintage Partners, a Phoenix-based development firm, to complete a three-way land swap that will result in a new ADOT North Central District headquarters and Motor Vehicle Division office.
“ADOT, Flagstaff and Vintage Partners all showed extraordinary perseverance to work through their own processes and requirements and get this project across the finish line,” ADOT Director John Halikowski. “This is a big win for the community and for ADOT’s customers.”
The idea for the project came about in 2012, when Flagstaff was looking for a way to complete two voter-approved road extension and realignment projects that ran directly through ADOT’s current complex on Milton Road. The ADOT office buildings, built in the early 1960s and 1970s, were outdated and inadequate, but ADOT did not have the budget for new facilities.
Using Arizona’s public-private partnership law, ADOT officials suggested swapping the Milton property for new facilities elsewhere in the city, freeing up the Milton land for redevelopment and the road improvements. Flagstaff also contributed a parcel adjacent to ADOT’s complex.
ADOT is scheduled to move into its new facilities at the end of this year at the former site of a Harkins Theatres location that relocated near the Flagstaff Mall as part of the deal. The site will house ADOT district offices, MVD and commercial driver license offices, and lab facilities.
The property of ADOT’s current offices on Milton Road will be redeveloped into student housing by Vintage Partners and allow Flagstaff to extend University Drive and reconfigure Beulah Boulevard, improving access through that part of town.
“This project is unique in Arizona and is one of only a handful of similar projects around the country,” said Gail Lewis, ADOT’s director of public-private partnership initiatives. “It showcases the creativity that can be brought to bear by bringing the public and private sectors together to solve problems.”
Due to the complexity of the transaction, the three-party agreement took five years to complete. After Vintage Partners built the new movie theater, the firm then had to develop a plan for ADOT’s current location on Milton Road and work with ADOT to plan the new facility. Flagstaff had to approve all of the plans and permits for both the Milton property and the repurposed theater location.
For more information on public-private partnerships and ADOT, visit azdot.gov/P3.