Phoenix leaders green-lighted on Tuesday a massive expansion of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus proposed by Arizona State University in partnership with billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.
The City Council voted unanimously to amend its lease agreement with ASU to include about 7 acres of downtown city land for the development of a technology-based health research hub for NantWorks, the company led by Soon-Shiong.
The roughly four blocks are located between Garfield, Fillmore, Fourth and Sixth Streets and are already slated for development under the Phoenix Biomedical Campus master plan. The campus will be about 30 acres when fully built and already includes university programs and the Translational Genomics Research Institute.
ASU and NantWorks’ vision for downtown — coordinated with help from former Mayor Phil Gordon, who joined a Soon-Shiong institute when he left office — was fast-tracked to the council and first presented publicly Tuesday. The approval elicited concern from at least one developer who told the council his company was preparing to submit a proposal for the land.
ASU President Michael Crow said the new partnership will use NantWorks’ focus on rethinking science to build on the health-care programs and expertise the university already has downtown. Early efforts would focus on cancer detection and treatment, according to the university.
NantWorks will invest at least $75 million in the first phase of the project that includes 200,000 square feet in development, according to a news release from ASU. Several data and personalized medicine-focused companies fall under Soon-Shiong’s California-based business.
Land will be incorporated into ASU’s downtown lease as part of a phased process. It will be rent-free for up to 10 years and charged at $1.85 per square foot afterward for the first site. Rent for each subsequent site will increase.
The university will lease each site for 30 years, at which point it will transfer to ASU ownership. Council members said they supported the mission of the project and asked for community outreach moving forward on issues including building design and parking.
Every week, The Republic asks Phoenix City Council members and the mayor to respond to a question about an issue affecting city government.
We asked: Why did you support the biomedical campus expansion proposal? Please explain.
Here are their responses. Only those city leaders who responded to the question are listed.
“The Phoenix Biomedical Campus is a game-changer for economic development in downtown Phoenix, and the expansion of the campus through a partnership with ASU will take the campus to the next level. I appreciate ASU and NantWorks’s commitment to working with our neighborhood leaders in the design and development of the project, and to bringing high-skilled jobs to District 8 at every stage of the process. ASU has a track record of investing in innovation in our downtown, and as someone with a professional background in economic development, I am excited to welcome this project to District 8.”
Kate Gallego, District 8, southeast Phoenix and parts of downtown
“I support the biomedical campus expansion. ASU has been a tremendous partner with Phoenix, and thanks to the vision of former Mayor Phil Gordon, this relationship has benefited the downtown and greater Phoenix area in countless ways. This public-private investment is the stimulus for the creation of thousands of jobs, the explosion of residential development, renovation of several downtown buildings and continues to play a major role in the overall downtown ‘energy.’ In addition, ASU’s investment in this city helps to solidify Phoenix as an important educational and medical research hub, and this will prove invaluable for the continued growth of Phoenix.”
— Michael Nowakowski, District 7, southwest Phoenix and parts of downtown
“The future of our city and our citizens is with individualized medical care — designing medications for each person. Phoenix moved this vision of individualized medical care when we approved the Biomedical Campus. In a partnership with ASU, we also moved forward with another vision — establishing a unique business model by creating healthcare clusters. Partnering with extensive research hospitals like Banner, John C. Lincoln, Mayo Clinic, St. Luke’s and TGen, these are the new economic engines in our community driving high-paying jobs. High technology, individualized care and product development will drive high quality jobs and our future.”
— Sal DiCiccio, District 6,Ahwatukee and east Phoenix
“Health research, high technology, and infrastructure improvements continue to prove to be economic drivers for our city. I believe that continued investment in our public/private partnership with ASU through expansion of the biomedical campus achieves our collective goal of sound fiscal policy and economic growth. The city of Phoenix and ASU both have a proven track record of successful use of public investment. I am confident that further expansion of the biomedical campus will continue our vision of expansive economic growth.”
— Laura Pastor, District 4, parts of central and west Phoenix
“I enthusiastically voted this week to expand the Phoenix Biomedical Campus through an innovative partnership between the city of Phoenix, ASU and the world’s wealthiest doctor. The biomedical campus is already an innovation hub in downtown Phoenix thanks to the U of A Medical School and TGen. The ASU project will add to the excitement that exists on the campus as it will pour in an additional $75 million investment, create hundreds of jobs and add a 200,000 square foot development. I was pleased that the city’s partners are not asking for taxpayer dollars for this project, and the land will revert to the city if the development does not occur.”
— Bill Gates, District 3, Sunnyslope, Moon Valley and parts of northeast Phoenix
“I support the plan. ASU is a terrific addition to downtown. Expanding this partnership is good for residents of Phoenix who directly benefit from the research conducted at these facilities (and at TGEN) as President Crow has emphasized integrating ASU into the community. I appreciate ASU’s willingness to work with D2’s Mayo Clinic and recognizing the synergy between the two projects. Too often, discussion of projects focuses on where they are located. Dr. Crow and Mayor Stanton have looked outside downtown and recognized the benefit of having world-class facilities that can work in concert while not being physically contiguous.”
— Jim Waring, District 2, northeast Phoenix
“Remember when doctors sent patients to Arizona to get well? We let that slip away from us. In the past decade, the city, working with ASU, U of A, and Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong have begun rebuilding the new generation of medical research and services. The focus on high-speed data transfer, personalized medical and cell-based treatment is the future. Arizona, and especially Phoenix, should be proud to build the medical mega-center for research, technology, services and employment opportunities it brings. Hopefully, this is just a second step of many to build this industry.”
— Thelda Williams,District 1, northwest Phoenix