Developer proposes Space Needle-esque tower for Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) - A development company hopes to bring an updated version of Seattle's Space Needle to downtown Phoenix, but the idea is in its early stages and an executive says securing the needed funding will be the biggest challenge.

Phoenix-based Novawest LLC wants to break ground downtown on a 420-foot-tall observation tower this summer. The proposed $60 million project would be built in the interior courtyard of the Arizona Science Center.

The boutique real-estate developer has yet to secure financing or submit plans to the city, and the Arizona Science Center location isn't secured yet. But Novawest leaders are optimistic, saying Phoenix's management team has been encouraging and supportive.

"It is a unique concept, and we have asked them for project details to support the feasibility of the project," Phoenix spokeswoman Sina Matthes told The Arizona Republic (

The 70,000-square-foot mixed-use tower in Phoenix would include a restaurant, bar, lounge and event space.

"There would be the opportunity to just go up and observe and look at the view and enjoy the sunset and the planes landing and taking off or just the mountains," Novawest executive Jay Thorne said. "In addition, there would be the opportunity to dine and go there for an evening of cocktails or to rent space and hold a wedding reception or an office Christmas party."

New York City-based architecture firm BIG released renderings of the concrete, open-air tower last week. Thorne described the spiral design as having a "modern futuristic look." The observation tower is modeled after a pin, which designers say marks Phoenix's place on the map.

Novawest wants to break ground in August so the structure could open in time for the 2015 Super Bowl, which will be held in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

At least two previous attempts to build nationally recognized sky-high buildings in Phoenix were unsuccessful.

Plans to build the world's largest building downtown in 1987 were dropped within three years when European developer and part-time Valley resident Georges R. Schriqui was unable to secure financial or political support for the 114-story "Phoenix Tower."

Donald Trump hoped to open the Trump International Hotel and Residences Phoenix along the Camelback Corridor, but city officials rejected the 190-foot-tall project amid opposition from neighbors. The plan, proposed in late 2003, was dead by the end of 2005.

Thorne said obtaining financing for the privately funded project will be the biggest challenge.

"Phoenix is a destination increasingly that people want to be in," he said. "It's a growing city in the American Southwest. It has a bright future, and we know from talking to people that there are investors that have an interest."