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Updated: May 18, 2023 @ 12:44 pm
(City of Scottsdale/Submitted)
(City of Scottsdale/Submitted)
City Council last week cleared the way for two projects that will bring 1,545 new multifamily units to Scottsdale.
Council on Nov. 21 approved by a 4-3 vote the rezoning for the Optima McDowell Mountain Village near the intersection of Mayo Boulevard and Scottsdale Road.
That project calls for 1,330 apartments and condominiums and 36,000 square feet of commercial space in six eight-story buildings.
Council also voted 5-2 to approve Chapparal Commons near the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Gold Dust Avenue, which will add 215 apartments and 11,370 square feet of commercial space to the city’s inventory of developed space.
The mammoth Optima project was opposed by council members Kathy Littlefield, Betty Janik and Solange Whitehead.
“I am concerned about a couple of things with this,” Littlefield said. “We’ve been going around telling our neighbors and telling our citizens, ‘Cut back on water, cut back on water, don’t water your lawn, don’t do this, don’t do that,’” Littlefield said.
“And yet this project has pools on every roof top,” she continued. It has green grass, It has draping vines. I love green. I’m a native here so green is very special to me. I love plants and I think it’s beautiful but it’s not consistent with the message we’re trying to send to our citizens and that’s a problem to me.”
However, Optima officials point out the project will have:
• No Grass that can be watered – the project landscaped design consists of artificial turf, drip irrigation, and xeriscape.
• No fountain on the project.
• A 210,000 gallon rainwater harvesting storage tank on the project which Optima claims will be the largest private rainwater harvesting system in the United States.
• Low flow plumbing fixtures will be used in the project.
• 2,750 acre-feet of water provided by Optima to the City of Scottsdale.
Water wasn’t Littlefield’s only concern though.
“Also, residents told us loud and clear to anyone who was listening in the last election that they wanted to slow down the development in Scottsdale,” Littlefield said.
“It seems to me all we’ve done now is try and find the ways to manage to grow more and grow higher. Higher, denser, bigger is not what our citizens voted for.”
But Councilwoman Tammy Caputi called Optimum “a project that could set a precedent we can be proud of.”
The original plans for the project called for three 15-story buildings and three 11-story buildings with a total 1,680 units.
“We actually received almost no opposition on this project … I think there were four letters of opposition,” Caputi said. “We’ve all been looking at this project for almost a year as it was mentioned and it has gotten better and better.
“I don’t think I was wildly excited about it in the beginning but the applicant has been incredibly responsive to all our requests to lower the height, lower the density, give us more open space, make sure you’ve got water.”
Units in the project will range in size from 675 square feet for a studio to 2,221 square feet for a three-bedroom unit.
Each building will feature a running track, Olympic sized pools, locker rooms, outdoor fireplaces and barbecues on the roof as well a setback guard rail that allows for 60 percent more view from the top of the building.
For the commercial space, the developer envisions a high-end restaurant, café, coffee/juice bar, office suites, bicycle shop, dry cleaners, boutique spa/wellness center, preschool or elementary school, elementary school and financial institutions
The plan calls for 75% of the 21.88-acre site to be open space with 55% open to the public.
The site would include underground parking and trash receptacles.
Littlefield and Mayor David Ortega cast the two votes against Chaparral Commons.
“Voters approved General Plan 2035, which called for 24 units per acre,” Ortega said. “This (project) has double that – 48.5, almost 49 units to an acre.”
Caputi liked that the developer will build a living laboratory garden at nearby Chaparral High School.
“When this council agreed to make education a standalone chapter in our General Plan, this is what I was picturing, a collaboration between the city and the schools in which we would have mutual benefit,” she said. “So here’s our opportunity to have our deeds follow our words.”
Chaparral Commons is planned on 4.64 acres with about 32% of open space.
The project offers one free month of rent to anyone with a child in nearby Chaparral High School and 10% of the units will be reserved for city workforce housing.
That controls rent costs without any tax breaks. It will also eliminate 1.36 acres of asphalt and add 142 trees, including 48-inch box trees.
The project also has a gray water recycling system and other technology that is expected to save 4.1 million gallons of water per year.
The three-story complex had three requests for amended standards. The first amendment would allow the building to be setback more than the minimum.
The extra space will be used to put in 10-foot wide sidewalks and a double row of trees.
The second amendment request would reduce the slope of the third-story stepbacks along the western property line. The final request is for patio/balcony areas in the setback along the western edge.
Six members of the public spoke on the project, all but one of whom supported the project.
Bob Seager, who lives in a gated community in the area said, “We’re sick and tired of more apartments.”
He also opposed a three-story building and called for a two-story building with condominiums.
But the other speakers supported the project.
Adam Weisman has lived in the area for six years and said he has watched the strip mall site where the project will be located die off and “turn into a place where people come to sleep in their cars at night.”
“I walk my dog around there and other tenants have noticed the area has become less safe overtime,” Weisman said.
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