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The 'anonymous skyline' of Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix isn’t known for having signature high-rises, unlike many other big U.S. cities. But one development company is looking to change that. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Steve Goldstein reports.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: The developer Novawest wants to get started later this year on building a new-generation version of Seattle’s Space Needle in downtown Phoenix. The 420-foot tall observation tower is projected to cost $60 million. Jay Thorne, a Phoenix-based principal for Novawest, says the tower would be another step in the growth of downtown.

JAY THORNE: We have a skyline that is fairly anonymous in terms of having any signature building. And we felt like this was the perfect place and the perfect time to do it. And given the Valley’s attraction to tourism and conventions and visitors, we’re a place that people visit.

GOLDSTEIN: Alison King, founder of Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network, told KJZZ’s Here and Now that she’s not sure the proposal fits Phoenix.

ALISON KING: When you have existing landmarks that are already here and have been here for centuries—for example, Camelback Mountain—what could possibly compete with the grandeur and the beauty of this landmark, which is in the center of our city and so gorgeous and so recognizable? It should be an international symbol for our city. I’m not necessarily certain that we need a landmark in the built environment.

GOLDSTEIN: Thorne says Phoenix officials have been encouraging, but raising private financing for the project will continue to be Novawest’s focus for the next three to six months.