New Face for an Old Friend: The Grand Central Tower Renovation

May 08, 2015

                3550 N Central Ave, renown as Grand Central Tower, has been a historic landmark for downtown Phoenix since the 1960’s. Its iconic prestige is not solely determined by its grand stature as one of the tallest buildings a part of downtown Phoenix’s skyline, but more over its historical significance. As one of the first banks to see the Central Avenue stretch, Grand Central Tower had once been an epicenter for the economic distribution for the state of Arizona. It was not the first bank with a notably long reach, but it provided the largest distribution capabilities. Phoenix, let alone the whole state, had seen in history.

                The following decades proved the buildings sustainability through commerce and central proximity, but its function and esthetics faded with time. Practicality and appeal of the early 60’s/late 50’s can no better be summed by the words of Wespac’s Principal Wayne Bogan, “Outdated.” Perhaps Grand Central Tower was begging for a restoration to assure its grand stature, and a renovation had no better spar than the united collaboration joining Wespac to complete the project.

                Details came to fruition after the buildings purchase in 2013 and plans to renovate surfaced soon after. International design and architecture firm Ware Malcomb along with Fenway Properties joined the Wespac team in May of 2013. A total refurbishment included extensive exterior modifications, numerous spec suite build-outs, and multiple entryway and lobby overhauls. Over eleven separate projects and nearly two year’s worth of work combined to complete the immense undertaking of the Grand Central Tower renovation. 

                The first order of business was to tackle exterior landscapes and finishes while TI crews took to the interior. The golden sheer glimmering on the façade shifted towards a more generalized sense of modern chic. Light blues and grays trimmed the outer slates of granite, and the shimmering exterior took on a distinct rustic and modern motif. Oxidized iron trims and finished wood veneers transformed the new face of the building, straying from the glamorous sheer of gold-trimmed stone.

                Interior spec build-outs and compiled TI’s totaled for eight out of twenty possible floors.  Suites saw a combination of demo, drywall, paint, flooring, and furniture for tenant-ready spec suites. On the flexibility and appeal of spec suites, Wayne commented, “It is easy to see why it is attractive to brokers and tenants alike. It is move-in ready, tenants can plug-in and work, and brokers can market the spaces as such with benefits for themselves- it’s a win/win for everyone.”

                Spec suites are readily perceived as a step in the future of real estate and construction when observing the appeal for pop-up and start-up companies. In Arizona alone spec suite construction and real estate is a rapidly increasing TI sector as existing office space is becoming scarce. Andrew Cheney of Lee & Associates commented in a recent interview, “As of the end of Q1, 18 percent of the 2 MSF we had under construction is speculative. Where markets are tight, like Tempe and Chandler, developers are going spec.”

                Moreover, speculative suites were the ideal route for a larger and weathered space like Grand Central Tower. Wespac successfully transformed an outdated monster into an appealing, centrally located space that is suitable for established and upcoming businesses alike.

               Interior and exterior work combined, the Grand Central Tower project turned out to be the overhaul of Wespac’s past decade. The building’s inevitable futurism appeared as a process of time, but the fulfillment could not have been more fundamental if it were not for the collaborative effort to fully develop Grand Central Tower’s potential.



Category: Projects