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Phoenix Councilwoman: ASU Infrastructure Bill Is 'Nickels, Pennies'

A Phoenix subcommittee approved a plan to cover more than $1 million in infrastructure costs for the Arizona Biomedical Corridor.
(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
A Phoenix subcommittee approved a plan to cover more than $1 million in infrastructure costs for the Arizona Biomedical Corridor.

Phoenix taxpayers could cover millions in new infrastructure costs to help Arizona State University develop its Health Solutions Innovation Center. It’s part of an agreement between the city, ASU and Mayo Clinic to create the Arizona Biomedical Corridor.

The area is along Loop 101 from 56th to 64th streets. That’s where Mayo Clinic has a 7-story hospital and where ASU wants to build its $75 million center. 

“The campus will focus on things like biomedical engineering, healthcare innovation, science, research labs," said Chris Mackay, the city’s economic development director.

She asked a city subcommittee to approve $1.3 million to cover initial infrastructure needs like street paving, a telecommunications conduit, and water and sewer lines. Under the proposal, ASU would handle the improvement, and Phoenix would reimburse the university from revenue created by construction materials sales tax generated by the project. 

Councilwoman Thelda Williams led the unanimous vote in favor, “I mean that’s such a basic need and the amount truthfully that you’re talking about in comparison to what we spend around this city is nickels, pennies, for something that has the potential to be world renowned,” she said.

Williams said she often hears complaints from people that “everything goes downtown, everything’s way down there” and called Mayo Clinic and the Arizona Biomedical Corridor a point of pride for all of north Phoenix.

ASU is expected to ask for another $5 million later this year after more detailed design plans have been drawn with construction expected to begin in 2018. The full council must still approve.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.