The sad state of the Phoenix condo market continues to deteriorate with today’s news that 44 Monroe in downtown Phoenix will likely be headed to foreclosure, according to this Arizona Republic article.

A trustee sale is scheduled for April for 182 unsold condos, comprising most of the 34-story building’s 196 units. Developer Grace Communities spent $80 million on construction costs alone, and owes more than $86 million to Corus Construction Venture LLC, which took over after the project’s original lender went under.

The judges for Southwest Contractor’s Best of 2009 awards selected 44 Monroe as an honorable mention winner in the Residential/Hospitality category, despite the project’s financial problems and the unsold units. The negatives were trumped in the judges’ eyes by the project’s challenging and innovative construction by Phoenix general contractor The Weitz Co., San Diego’s Tucker Sadler Architects and Phoenix structural engineer PK Associates.

blog post photo
44 Monroe rises 378 ft. in downtown Phoenix.
Photo: Todd Photographic Services

The project may seem futile now, but it was a much more optimistic time in Phoenix way back in late 2005 when crews began demoing a long-vacant 11-story building on the site to make way for the tallest residential structure in Arizona. Summit at Copper Square was still underway (now another victim of the recession) and an influx of development heralded the rebirth of downtown Phoenix with a 24/7 urban atmosphere. These projects were to bring what nothing else could to Phoenix, that rarest of species in the Desert Southwest: pedestrians.

Well, while things didn’t exactly turn out as planned, there are a few areas of Phoenix that are alive with some activity – around the Sheraton/convention center and ASU’s downtown campus. But the most vibrant area of downtown Phoenix was also by far the cheapest made – Roosevelt Row where apartments and a few shops line one side of the street and art galleries and restaurants in recycled buildings line the other. Unfortunately, Roosevelt is relatively small and the area surrounding it has been turned into a virtual wasteland, so there isn’t enough pedestrian crossover between these isolated areas. Maybe 44 Monroe’s $80 million would have been better spent there...a whole neighborhood of three-story brownstones perhaps?