Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mixed-use project coming to Arcadia

Residents of the Arcadia area in east Phoenix are welcoming changes to a planned development that many hope will bring a stronger identity to their neighborhood.

The area, a collection of well-established neighborhoods nestled south of Camelback Mountain and east of the Scottsdale border, is set to become home to a major retail, restaurant and office project that could become a focal point for the area.

The plan calls for open space surrounded by 11 buildings - a bank, retail, restaurants, outdoor dinning, and offices - spanning 146,000 square feet on the southwestern corner of 48th Street and Indian School Road.

In 2009, MidFirst Bank and Oklahoma-based Arcadia Development LLC bought the 12-acre property known as R&G Ranch, which had been owned by Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., a subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc., owner of The Arizona Republic. For years, the property was a gathering spot for events for employees of The Republic and the former Phoenix Gazette.

The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved rezoning the property from residential to commercial.

Mike Curley, an attorney for the property owners, said construction could begin within a year.

Lifelong Arcadia resident Barry Paceley said the project's design is a cross between the Farm at South Mountain and Kierland Commons, with a suburban-agricultural feel.

It could mark the Arcadia area as a gathering place for residents, he said.

"The Biltmore has its own identity. Central Phoenix has a sort of Midwest feel like the western suburbs of Chicago," Paceley said. "This could be a place where you stop off and have a cup of coffee after walking the canal in the morning. And have lunch or dinner later - it has this flow throughout the day."

Curley said the middle of property will have an acre-and-a-half of open space.

"There's no other development in the Valley with that sort of open space amenity," Curley said.

The neighbors have been working with the developer for more than two years on the project.

Residents had opposed a pitch by the developers to allow buildings as high as three stories.

The council passed an amended version of the plan that included an amended height limit of about two stories.

"We're quite happy with that," said Paul Barnes, a neighbor.

The three stories would have set a precedent, he said.

"If the height stipulation was kept, someone could get a height waiver for three stories for other developments. For future redevelopments, we want to keep it at two stories, to reflect the area," Barnes said.

Councilman Michael Johnson said height has always been an issue with the development of the Camelback corridor over the years.

"They believed the height waiver would set a precedent. That was the issue," he said. "So they expanded the floor plan to make up for it, to offset the three stories."

by Philip Haldiman The Arizona Republic Oct. 8, 2011 12:00 AM

Mixed-use project coming to Arcadia

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