The 1.18-million-sq-ft Central Station Metro Transit development in Phoenix comprises two towers, one for student housing and the second for multifamily apartments; 70,000 sq ft of office space; 30,000 sq ft of retail focusing on food concepts; and a 427-space garage.

Designed by the Phoenix studio of Gould Evans, with Layton Construction as general contractor, the sustainable campus community is scheduled to open in 2024.

Co-developers Houston-based Medistar and GMH Communities, Newtown Square, Pa., say the 2.5-acre community will offer quick accessibility to public transportation and proximity to other downtown services.

“The development will seamlessly merge with the Central Station Metro Transit, the city’s primary downtown bus and light rail transit hub, which serves two million passengers annually. It will also link to the city’s Civic Space Park in a unified public space for the vibrant heart of Phoenix,” says Steve Behrle, GMH Communities chief development officer.

The 435-unit student housing tower and the 362-unit multifamily tower will feature variously sized living spaces and smart technology. Each building has floors to house future restaurants, retail stores and offices, says John Sirrine, construction manager for Layton. Both towers will be constructed with concrete floors and columns and shear walls.

The skin is aluminum and glass with EIFS panels, Behrle explains.
Highly Sustainable Towers
The project targets sustainability and seeks to optimize the urban lifestyle.

“With amenities, conveniences and transportation right at their doorstep, residences and tenants can have a reduced carbon footprint,” Behrle says, adding that the development also is seeking Fitwel certification, which recognizes sustainable design and wellness.

“Because the project is in the middle of the downtown [ASU] campus, transit and civic space, it includes shade trees and a large canopy at the ground plane, recognizing the importance of thermal comfort for pedestrians,” says Betsy Lynch, Gould Evans’ associate principal and senior project manager.

Sirrine notes the logistical and construction challenges. “We are bordered by the Phoenix Metro light rail train on two sides, the historic San Carlos Hotel, electrical gear and a partial park on the third side, and busy Van Buren Street on the fourth.

“In addition, there is a lot of foot traffic around the site and a significant homeless or unsheltered population downtown, increasing the safety factor,” he says.

Because the garage covers nearly the complete 2.5-acre footprint, the construction team will have to vertically shore and drive soil nails around the perimeter to ensure stability.

The garage also facilitates livability and sustainability, says Lynch. “This project’s underground parking is unique in a car-centric city like Phoenix that frequently applies above-grade parking. Below-grade parking allows the ground plane to be connected to light rail, buses, the transit office and public amenities. It is a significant investment for the developer to recognize the importance of maintaining the ground plane for something other than cars.”

The development also will reduce parking by 52% and incorporate bike racks, landscaping and public site furnishings, utilizing 100% of the city of Phoenix’s sustainability bonus points, Behrle says. This program awards additional entitlements to projects with sustainable design and performance records.

In addition, Central Station will utilize optimized infrastructure for heating and cooling needs, an energy management system, energy-recovery units for outside air, LED lighting systems and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

“From an architectural standpoint, the strategic orientation of the development, well-insulated façade with air barriers, window walls with thermal breaks and high-performance glass with interior shades, all contribute to a reduction in the buildings’ heat gain from desert sun angles,” Behrle says.

Drip irrigation and low-water plantings will be installed on the fourth-floor amenity deck in the apartment tower to reduce the heat island effect. That tower also will be equipped with Energy Star appliances and low-VOC interior finishes, Behrle notes.