$170M Salt River entertainment project will include Butterfly Wonderland attraction
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Phoenix Business Journal by Angela Gonzales, Senior Reporter
Date: Thursday, August 9, 2012, 2:55pm MST – Last Modified: Friday, August 10, 2012, 9:32am MST
Northern Gateway LLC will break ground next week on a $170 million, 522,000-square-foot entertainment district. It will include attractions, restaurants and retail developments on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale.
The first phase of the project will be an attraction called Butterfly World, which will feature an indoor rainforest environment with a 10,000-square-foot butterfly atrium. That project also will include educational and interactive exhibits, such as a theater, a chrysalis laboratory and travel exhibits.
The 5-acre project will be built at the northeast corner of Via De Ventura Drive and the Loop 101 freeway. Scottsdale-based Montgomery Design Group designed the project. The architect is Brisette Architects Inc. of Scottsdale and The Renaissance Cos. of Scottsdale will built the project. It is expected to open in the spring of next year.
The butterfly rainforest will be home to more than 100 different species of butterflies from around the world, including Costa Rica and the Philippines. The exhibit will include waterfalls, Koi fish and unique flowering plants and trees on which the butterflies feed on their nectar.
Amram Knishinsky, a principal partner and lead developer in the project, has developed shopping centers, office buildings and office complexes, as well as the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Ken., in 1999.
Knishinsky said he has always been intrigued by butterflies.
“I look at butterflies as flying flowers,” he said. “Butterflies have always been inspirational.”
The butterfly project will be funded by private investors, he said.
It will be the beginning of what will become an entertainment destination that will include an Imax Theater, a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum and a project called the Arizona Experience Theater.
This is Knishinsky’s own creation that will take visitors on a two-hour experience that will heighten all the senses, including sound, sight and smell.
“We’re looking at this whole development as a new entertainment district,” he said.
The entire 522,000-square-foot project will be pedestrian friendly, where all the parking will be on the outskirts of the project, and the center court will be designed to be the town square that can include sidewalk cafes and small retail shops.
“It’s going to become a new meeting place for everyone,” he said. “We really don’t have in the Valley attractions that are next to each other. We believe the Phoenix metropolitan area is underserved when it comes to attractions.”
Angela Gonzales covers health, biotech and education.
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