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The Steel Skeleton for Hotel, Condo Tower For Sale; The Stalled
 Chandler, Arizona Project Likely to Big for Developer

By Chris Markham, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Mar. 16, 2007 - City leaders say they're not alarmed now that the stalled Elevation Chandler project is up for sale.

"I'm just glad to see something's happening over there," Chandler City Councilman Matt Orlando said.

It's been almost a year since work stopped on the unfinished hotel and condominium project that began in November 2005.

Until recently, the developer, Jeff Cline, of Signature Properties West, had insisted the project was not in financial trouble -- despite $5.8 million in liens filed against the property last year by unpaid contractors and a threatened foreclosure. Both were settled when Cline secured a $25 million bridge loan in December.

Now, Cline has put the project, including a partially built tower and 10.5 acres of prime real estate next to Chandler Fashion Center, on the market for $42 million to $58 million.

Cline declined to comment Thursday, other than to say more information will come "soon."

And would-be buyers will have to sign a confidentiality agreement forbidding them from discussing the project before receiving any further information.

The project may have simply been ill-timed or too big for Cline's group, experts said.

"I don't know the depth of his wealth or how deep they are financially, but that's a pretty big undertaking," said Brent Moser, senior vice president at Grubb & Ellis Commercial, not connected with the project.

"It may have been a bigger project than what they were ready for," Moser said.

But experts seem to agree that whoever takes over can make the project work, though there will be challenges.

"Obviously, there's a stigma attached to it now," Moser said. "There will definitely need to be some rebranding, if you will."

But finding buyers shouldn't be a problem, experts said.

"I think, like everything, it's going to be fine," said Brad Cooke, a vice president with commercial real estate firm Colliers International, also not connected with Elevation Chandler.

The parcel's current zoning is specific to Cline's project and calls for a hotel, condominiums and health club. A new developer would have to go through a new approval process to build anything different on the site, Chandler planning director Doug Ballard said.

"We very much would like to see what was originally zoned and originally approved," he said.

Vice Mayor Lowell Huggins said completing the project is the most important thing.

"I hope they just buy it out and follow up on (Cline's) dreams and do what his vision was," Huggins said.

"Just complete what Mr. Cline wanted to do would be just fine with me," he said.

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.

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