Sunday, October 31, 2010

Waterfront's plan for 150-foot tower passes hurdle

The Scottsdale Planning Commission has recommended the City Council approve amended development standards at the Scottsdale Waterfront to allow for a building that would rival the city's tallest structures.

Scottsdale Waterfront LLC, the owner, wants the city to modify its development standards for the vacant parcel immediately south of the Nordstrom parking garage to allow for a building that would rise nearly 150 feet. "We just want to have a single tower to the east," said Brett Sassenberg, Scottsdale Waterfront LLC spokesman. "It's an efficient structure, it's into the downtown because it makes sense for the downtown." The applicant hasn't yet submitted a specific site plan or use for Phase IV and V of the Waterfront development. John Berry, an attorney representing the applicant, said the recession has created an environment where financing isn't available until the development standards are in place and a user has been identified. "This allows nothing to be built, it doesn't block anyone's views," he said. "This allows (the applicant) to move forward and design the project." Commissioners based much of their unanimous vote on the applicant's record of development at the Waterfront. Commission Chairman Michael D'Andrea said the Waterfront has greatly benefited the downtown and he looks forward to seeing the next phase of the project. "This still does have to go through the (approval) process," Commission Vice Chairman Ed Grant said. "If this were a full-blown proposal, a continuance would be appropriate, but it's not. This is consistent with the downtown plan." The 3.35-acre site, called the Goldwater parcel, is on the east side of Goldwater Boulevard and the north side of the Arizona Canal. The maximum height now allowed on the parcel is 85 feet excluding rooftop mechanical needs. The request is to increase that maximum height to 149 feet including rooftop mechanical. That is roughly as tall as the AmTrust bank building at 68th Street and Camelback Road and the Scottsdale Waterfront condominium towers at Camelback and Scottsdale roads. The request also includes4 acres of open space across the entire Waterfront development. Michael Curley, an attorney representing the owners of nearly 200 Waterfront condominiums, argued that the developer should stick to the development standards agreed upon back in 2003. "We think the approval completely deviates from the city's normal standards," he said. "To give this additional height without any site plan is, in our view, the equivalent of signing a blank check." Berry said the original plan's heights would force a development with "squished- down" buildings and consequently less open space. The amended plan calls for a greater buffer along Goldwater and moving greater building heights away from areas outside of the downtown, he said. The previous plan called for two buildings of up to 36 feet in height, plus up to 24 feet of mechanical needs, to the west of the parcel. It also allows for one 85-foot-tall building plus up to 24 feet of mechanical to the east. "What they're requesting completely is an abandonment of commitments that were made in 2003 relative to the height on the parcel," Curley said. After the vote, Sassenberg said he looks forward to the council considering this request. "It's an infill-incentive district and all of it is amendable," he said, of the district created by the City Council this past summer that allows developers to seek revised standards on building heights. "We've gone through a major economic crisis, and things have to change. It's happening all around the Valley, it's happening all around the nation. It's inevitable and it will be positive once it's finished."

by Edward Gately The Arizona Republic Oct. 30, 2010 06:46 AM

Waterfront's plan for 150-foot tower passes hurdle

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