/City of Tempe Statement regarding Priest-Rio Salado Request for Proposals

City of Tempe Statement regarding Priest-Rio Salado Request for Proposals

City of Tempe Statement

Sept. 2, 2021

One submittal was received by the City of Tempe in response to its Request for Proposals (RFP), issued in July, for a mixed-use project incorporating a professional sports franchise and entertainment district for two parcels of city-owned land totaling 46 acres at the northeast corner of Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway. The deadline was today at 3 p.m.

According to state procurement law, only the names of entities responding to an RFP can be revealed at the time the RFP closes. The name in this instance is Bluebird Development, LLC.

While the submittal is evaluated, and the city engages in intensive due diligence, Tempe representatives cannot discuss the matter.

Next steps

The City of Tempe anticipates that the next steps in this evaluation process will take many months and will include extensive examinations, as well as opportunities for community feedback. These next steps will happen in a sequence.

First: A rigorous, confidential evaluation process will be undertaken by a multidisciplinary internal team of city staff members. It is expected to take several months; no precise time period has been set. Staff members will be following pre-set evaluation criteria established at the time the RFP was issued. The evaluation will include projected economic impacts, job creation, public benefit, neighborhood considerations, traffic impacts and more. There is no estimated time period for these analyses because thoroughness is paramount. Due to the complexity of the evaluation, the city is likely to turn to third party consultants for assistance in aspects of its evaluation.

Second: At this end of the evaluation process, if the city staff team determines that negotiation with the proposer is warranted, it will make a recommendation to the City Council to start such discussions. The Council has the authority to accept or reject this recommendation through one or more public meetings.  

Third: If the Council agrees to enter into exclusive negotiations with the proposer, that would begin a new process that could take several more months. This would involve direct negotiations between city staff and the developer. Negotiations would be aimed at determining whether it is possible for the parties to agree on a Development and Disposition Agreement (DDA), which is a legal document that would formalize the entire relationship. After the Council votes to accept a party to negotiate with, the original RFP submittal becomes accessible as a public record, excluding any confidential information that must be withheld.

Lastly: If a DDA is successfully negotiated by staff and the proposer, the City Council would ultimately vote in a public meeting to accept or reject it. Only upon the approval and subsequent execution of the DDA is the process deemed complete. During any negotiations, the firm may also begin the planning process with the Community Development Department. Entitlements such a General Plan Amendment and zoning action may also be needed depending on the firm’s submittal. Any entitlements will also be brought to the City Council for consideration at one or more future public Council meetings.


Any professional sports franchise or entity partnered with the franchise could have responded to the RFP; it was open to all qualified organizations, locally and nationally. It is customary for cities or towns to issue RFPs in order to get specifics that can be analyzed and evaluated. On occasion, cities like Tempe issue RFPs after being approached with unsolicited, informal proposals; the RFP is a tool to solidify and examine such proposals as well as all other responsive proposals. In this instance, the city determined that this 46 acres of land is underutilized and desired to open up this RFP process.

Any eventual Development Agreement that results from any RFP must equate to the best deal possible for Tempe residents. The city exists to serve our residents and we take seriously our obligation to provide a safe, livable community in a fiscally responsible way.

The two city parcels involved in this RFP represent an important area of our city, near Tempe Town Lake and the Tempe Center for the Arts, and adjacent to neighborhoods and employers. These people and places also will be top of mind during evaluations of RFP responses.   

July 22 City of Tempe statement regarding Request for Proposals.