A 418-unit apartment complex has been approved for the northwest corner of Loop 101 and Bell Road on the Glendale-Peoria border.
Glendale City Council unanimously approved a general plan and zoning change Tuesday for the property in the New River channel for apartments to be called Evergreen Loop 101 and Bell. Before it builds, the developer must get preliminary approval for any changes to the river from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The 16-acre property was designated for office space in 2009 for a development that never happened. Since then no other office developers have been interested. A lawyer for the apartment developer said the property has been undesirable for commercial developers because of the site's size and shape as well as its proximity to the wash, the fact that its elevation is lower than the surrounding land and the FEMA requirements. City planner George Gehlert agreed, calling it a “difficult infill site.”
Cholla District Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff, who represents the district the development is in, was glad to see a developer want to build on the land.
“This is a challenging parcel to develop, and I think it’s a great use of this land,” she said.
Ms. Tolmachoff also thought putting more residents in the area would be a boost to the Arrowhead Towne Center, which is less than a mile to the east.
“I think the density in the area of Arrowhead Mall is an important thing also. You know, we know the challenges of retail,” she said.
The apartment complex will include four L-shaped buildings, one three-stories and the other three four-stories and 60 feet tall. About 40% of the property will be open space. The complex will include two pools, a clubhouse, multiple ramadas, playgrounds and dog parks. It will also include a trail along the channel that connects 83rd Avenue at the north of the property to Bell Road at the south of the property.
Ken Watt, a Peoria resident who lives near the site, spoke at Tuesday’s Council meeting opposing the apartments because of height and wanted the Council to further consider traffic and noise issues. But Mr. Watt’s chief grievance with the development was that he claimed, incorrectly, it violated the scenic corridor the city created along that part of the Loop 101 in 2016, banning billboards from obstructing mountain views in the region.
Mr. Watt said he and like-minded neighbors would appeal a yesv ote from Council and “fight this all the way until we’ve exhausted every option.” He said he’d spoken to two law firms about the matter.
Ms. Tolmachoff, who spearheaded the creation of the scenic corridor that runs entirely through her district in 2016, pointed out the city code only bans billboards and not tall buildings.
The developer’s lawyer, Shaine T. Alleman with the law firm Tiffany & Bosco, PA, said the four-story apartments won’t be as towering as some of neighbors think. He said with the property’s dip in elevation, most of the first two stories would be below the ground level of the surrounding land. He noted the apartments will be more than 500 feet from the homes across the wash and said the trail along the property will add “nice, lush vegetation” that will cover close to a story of the apartment from view.
“It’s not what I think is what the neighbors perceive as this big, luminous and illuminating building up there overlooking their site. That’s not what’s occurring,” Mr. Alleman said.
Ms. Tolmachoff agreed based on the plans it wouldn’t appear to be a four-story building. She and Vice Mayor Ray Malna, who represents the bordering Sahuaro District, both said they hadn’t received any complaints from their residents about the development.
“I believe having the skyline that you’re describing, it’s going to be a nice-looking project,” Mr. Malnar said.