First Place – Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ (2018)

Set in the heart of a disinvested area of Phoenix, First Place-Phoenix is a first of its kind mixed-use residential property designed to provide residential options and opportunities for independent living to adults with autism and related disorders.


Project Description

First Place-Phoenix is a first of its kind, 81,000-square-foot property which houses independent living residential units, a transition academy and a training and leadership institute. First Place-Phoenix includes 67 studio one- and two-bedroom apartments, with 16 units targeted to low-income tenants, and a suite of independent living services and amenities. The project serves as a beacon of hope and opportunity, ushering in a new era of housing for individuals with autism and other special abilities in Phoenix, which PBS NewsHour dubbed “the most autism-friendly city in the world.”

With a poverty rate of 24.7%, the project creates 33 new, quality full-time permanent jobs with above average wages, retains 9 jobs and created 100 new construction jobs. At least 50% of the jobs are anticipated to be filled by low-income persons or residents of the surrounding low-income community. The Global Leadership Institute is also getting ready to announce the expansion of a major east coast back office/IT benefit corporation to the area that will produce 500 jobs for people with autism and other neurodiversities over the next five years.

The First Place Transition Academy is operated by the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center and is located onsite serving 32 students/year who are transitioning to more independent living and who reside at First Place-Phoenix in year one and off-campus in year two. The First Place Global Leadership Institute is also on campus, led by a international faculty, advancing the continued education and training of support service providers, professionals and physicians, and serving as a robust site for research and public policy advancements. For a first-hand look at community building, click here.

With no marketplace comparable for residential living of this kind, the project was unable to obtain conventional financing. First Place AZ successfully raised cash and pledges to support the project, but was not able to support the entire budget without New Markets Tax Credit Financing (“NMTC”) filling the gap. The NMTC financing increased the viability and efficiency of the operations further improving the Sponsor’s services provided to adults with autism.

College or Vocational Training




Mixed-use and Commercial

Vocational Training


Other Healthcare Projects