Developer’s Vision of Scottsdale?

Here’s a scary headline for you:

Developer’s vision of downtown Scottsdale coming into focus

That was the lead-off for an Edward Gately article on AZCentral this morning on Shawn Yari and “his” entertainment district in downtown Scottsdale. I’ll leave you to read the article for yourself, but here are some observations:

[Mayor Jim Lane said] “The marketplace does sort of give us a guide on this, and frankly as time goes on, if you’re not responsive to the marketplace, that’s when areas die.”

Scottsdale’s citizen-crafted, citizen-ratified General Plan and the Zoning Ordinance give us the definitive “guide on this.” It’s too bad the mayor and council majority are willing to overlook THE LAW in exchange for campaign contributions from the liquor industry.

I’m all for development, redevelopment, and patrons having a good time; as long as we follow the rules and common sense. This, however, does not…regardless of how much money the developer (who lives in Paradise Valley where they don’t put up with this nonsense) throws at it.

Yari has two projects in the pipeline that would bring 320 apartment units to the district. Industry East (188 units plus retail) and Industry West (132 units plus retail) are in the early stages of the city’s planning-approval process.

I guess this means that Yari is being a good citizen by bringing in replacement residents for all the Villa Monterey and Maya Condos folks for whom he has ruined property values and quality of life.

Yari is also asking for significant zoning concessions like reduced parking requirements (in an area that already somewhere between 50 and 75% of the parking that it needs.

“You are allowed to ask for variations from the regulations, and then to get those you have to propose some sort of public benefit, so we’re waiting to see what that benefit will be,” [city planner Kim Chaffin] said. “They haven’t identified one yet.”

With all due respect to Ms. Chaffin, whatever they propose won’t be a tangible benefit. And you can rest assured that the pro-development Planning Commission, Development Review Board, City Council, and Mayor Lane are going to approve it anyway.

Probably the best comment in this article is:

Sonnie Kirtley, chairwoman of the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale, a citizen and small-business owners advocacy group, said the city should have a plan in place to guide redevelopment in the entertainment district.

“Project approval on a case-by-case basis is the problem,” she said. “The city has failed to plan a specific entertainment district with appropriate growth and impact guidelines. Hopefully, new council members will understand the urgency and establish a designated district.”

Amen. I would only add:

  1. IF the CITIZENS decide that an “Entertainment District” is worth sacrificing THEIR quality of life (and all the empirical evidence like tax revenue and public safety cost we’ve seen speaks to the contrary), then we should do it on purpose and with a well-crafted plan.
  2. Any “vision” that is to be followed in city planning is the vision expressed in Scottsdale’s General Plan. That is the vision of the residents for the future growth and development of OUR town.

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