The Tower, a commercial high-rise office building at 5151 E Broadway, has stood as an iconic fixture in the city’s eastern skyline since 1975.
So, at the height of the pandemic when the commercial real estate market was suffering a severe economic blow, property owners Kent Circle Partners|Seldin Real Estate, Inc. sought creative ways to add eco-friendly amenities for tenants and the greater community.
The Scottsdale-based company had planned a number of improvements, including upgrading the fitness center, but then turned its focus to the future.
After researching electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and the generous rebates and technical support offered through Tucson Electric Power’s Smart EV Charging program, management decided to charge ahead in January with installing two 50 kilowatt DC fast-charging stations on the east side of the property, at Broadway and Rosemont.
“We determined that the market was saturated with Level 2 chargers, but that central Tucson was critically underserved by Level 3 DC fast-charging stations. We wanted to step in to fill that void,” said Property Manager Mark Isenberger.
The company selected BTC chargers. Not only are they American made, but they have a short lead time and have open-source compatibility with many EV models. The stations can provide a full charge in an hour or less, at a cost of 45 cents per kilowatt hour, and are available for use by tenants and the public.
Because reliability of public chargers is important to EV drivers, The Towers also established a service contract with a vendor to ensure regular maintenance and software upgrades to limit downtime.
“We thought the project would be a big capital outlay and very disruptive, but TEP’s contractor, CLEAResult, did a thorough assessment of our site and existing utility infrastructure and actually recommended a better solution for us,” Isenberger said.
Aracely Lucero, TEP’s Senior Commercial Key Account Manager, said the installation of the chargers went smoothly, although it required a few infrastructure upgrades by TEP and the customer.
“Martin Salazar, our Journeyman Designer, determined that an existing wood pole needed to be replaced with a new steel pole and new overhead transformer,” she said. “The customer also needed to install a new service panel and a line extension with cable and conduit to the charger location.”
The Tower received higher rebate amounts because the building is located in an economically disadvantaged area, which ensures equitable EV charging opportunities for residents.
To raise community awareness of the new chargers and promote their use, The Tower offered free charging for a week in March and added their new chargers to EV charging websites to gain more exposure. “Utilization was pretty light at first, but since then it has really surged,” noted Isenberger, who uses software to monitor charger activity and energy usage.
Isenberger said Kent Circle Partners|Seldin Real Estate, Inc. is proud that The Tower is the first business in the mid-city area to install fast chargers and hopes to inspire other businesses to step up.
“The owners are committed to being an engaged community partner, but there’s also a business component here,” Isenberger said. “EVs will soon be everywhere. A lot of people pass through Tucson for business – a surprising number from Phoenix – and fast-charging options are limited. Residents also have found out that they don’t need to go far out of their way to find Level 3 charging. We have them right here.”