Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scottsdale council postpones consideration of Blue Sky project

Gray Development Group on Tuesday narrowly avoided seeing its proposed luxury-apartment complex near Scottsdale Fashion Square postponed indefinitely.

For a second time, Gray asked the Scottsdale City Council to delay considering its Blue Sky proposal, this time until Nov. 9. The developer was seeking more time to work with surrounding property owners who filed legal protests forcing a supermajority vote for council approval, but Gray almost got more than it asked for.

If the property owners - ST Residential and Triyar Properties - don't pull their protests, Gray will need six of seven council members to support the project.

Neither legal protest has been pulled.

The complex would occupy a 4.3-acre site originally planned for Phase 2 of the Safari Drive condominiums, on the east side of Scottsdale Road just north of Camelback Road.

Councilwoman Lisa Borowsky made a motion to delay consideration of Gray's proposal until Nov. 9, and Councilman Wayne Ecton seconded it.

Councilman Bob Littlefield then made an alternative motion to continue the proposal indefinitely, and his motion was seconded by Councilwoman Marg Nelssen. In a 4-3 vote, that motion failed, with Mayor Jim Lane, Vice Mayor Suzanne Klapp, Borowsky and Ecton voting with the majority.

The council then voted to delay consideration until its Feb. 9 meeting, with Littlefield and Nelssen dissenting.

Littlefield said Gray's proposal has "morphed" so much throughout the approval process and continues to change as the Phoenix-based developer negotiates with surrounding property owners.

"This project is massive. This is going to be the biggest change in downtown Scottsdale's history," Littlefield said. "This project isn't just about height. We need to take (more) time on this and, frankly, it needs to go back through the entire process."

Last month, the Planning Commission approved Gray's application and required rezoning as part of the downtown infill-incentive district. The commission recommended council approval.

Nelssen said Blue Sky still is too high and dense, and is not scaled correctly for the acreage and area. The legal protests are another concern.

"This, for me, is a clash of visions for this city, and I think that before we make a decision on this, that issue is going to have to be addressed, what this council's vision is for the city," Councilman Ron McCullagh said.

Neither Gray nor surrounding property owners addressed the council before the votes.

The Blue Sky project includes five buildings with a maximum height of 133 feet and 867 apartments.

In an effort to get Triyar Properties to pull its protest, Gray moved its rezoning application line an acre away from Triyar's property, said Brian Kearney, Gray's chief operating officer.

"The plan was the same essentially, we just pulled the line back and decided not to rezone a portion of it," he said.

As a result, one of the buildings would be slightly smaller.

Kearney hopes to tackle the protests before the project goes before the council again.

"The goal would be to have the protests a thing of the past and to have met the objectives of what the council is looking for," he said. "We're going to continue to work as hard as we can at it."

by Edward Gately The Arizona Republic Oct. 27, 2010 12:31 PM

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Scottsdale council postpones consideration of Blue Sky project

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