Can the Scottsdale Collective become the next big thing in Old Town?

Yari brothers look to bring into focus vision of united downtown

Posted 5/28/20

The newest Old Town Scottsdale redevelopment proposal is underway as owners of a large swath of real estate downtown are embarking on a project coined, “Scottsdale Collective.” …

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Can the Scottsdale Collective become the next big thing in Old Town?

Yari brothers look to bring into focus vision of united downtown

Posted

The newest Old Town Scottsdale redevelopment proposal is underway as owners of a large swath of real estate downtown are embarking on a project coined, “Scottsdale Collective.”

Despite public outcry from the last proposed project in the area, co-owner Shawn Yari says the Collective will not upset adjacent property and business owners like SouthBridge Two did, pointing to public outreach that begun months ago.

Meanwhile, two proprietors in Old Town say it’s too early to render an opinion on the project.

Shawn and Steven Yari, owners of Stockdale Capital Partners, own more than 30 acres of land and buildings in the northeast part of downtown Scottsdale --- with 24 acres located east of Scottsdale Road and south of Camelback Road, including the Galleria Corporate Centre.

The Yari brothers are no stranger to the popular Old Town area, as their properties includes portions of the entertainment district’s bars and restaurants --- and they are behind the Marquee project, approved last summer.

The Scottsdale Collective, while still in the planning stages, includes a boutique hotel, residential units and restaurants all anchored by green space, shade structures, wider sidewalks and an multi-million-dollar public art investment.

Overall, the project aims to upgrade and mature the entertainment district, Mr. Yari says.

While the term, “Old Town Scottsdale” may signify, to some, the vintage buildings south of Indian School Road, the city has maintained an effort to rebrand the entire “downtown” area to Old Town.

The Collective will not be changing or taking away from any charm the area has embedded in certain Old Town areas, Mr. Yari says, pointing to replacing dilapidated bars and an SRP trash-collection station.

“We are not taking away or compromising the character of Old Town or downtown Scottsdale or its galleries,” Mr. Yari said. “These are sort of buildings that have had their life cycle and it’s right for redevelopment; they’ve mostly been vacated, they’ve been replaced, and the rest are kind of buildings that it’s time to be redeveloped.”

Most redevelopment will be one- and two-story makeovers, with heights ranging from 90 feet to 150 feet. In all, square footage would not increase over existing density, the Stockdale group points out.

The group submitted a zoning application to the city on May 14; if all goes according to plan, the Collective would go through the Development Review Board scrutiny and hopes to get before City Council for approval by the end of the year.

The first request of the Collective entitlement effort is to replace the Dakota Bar with a boutique hotel. Over a number of years, the Yari brothers want to transform the area into a multi-generational tourist destination and expand the area’s appeal to families, young professionals and the arts community.

If there is office space included in the project, it would be minimal, Mr. Yari says.

Stockdale Capital Partners has offices in Scottsdale, Los Angeles and Houston.

‘The next great neighborhood’

The vision for Scottsdale Collective was born several years ago, in the mid-2000s when the Yaris began acquiring the Old Town properties.

While they created a successful bar district, Mr. Yari says they’re now trying to get back to their original vision for Scottsdale.

“The vision in 2004 and 2005 initially when we started acquiring these properties was a mixed-use development area with multiple uses where people would be living there, hotels, some offices, for sale residential, some for rent residential, retail, amenities,” Mr. Yari explained.

“The economy turned and we sort of organically grew into a bar district, which has been quite successful, we’re envisioning with this development that we can go back to what we originally envisioned.”

Mr. Yari wasn’t able to provide any specific details regarding how many hotel keys or residential units may be included in the development plan because of the size of the project, he says.

“We wanted to have the flexibility to be able to gauge what the demand will be of the market before we actually finalize each piece with what the actual units or room counts, or brand of the hotel, will be,” he said.

He knows that he wants the retail, food and beverage offerings to be higher-end offerings for all ages with sit-down, chef-driven restaurants.

“Entertainment isn’t necessarily bars and clubs,” he said. “Entertainment can be cafes that are open at night; ice cream places; donut shops. These are the types of places we’re looking to bring to activate that plaza.”

The majority of the bars that are existing and successful in the area will remain, Mr. Yari says.

In addition to replacing the Dakota Bar with the boutique hotel, plans call for replacing the Mint bar on Camelback Road.

Some of the properties he owns are in need of redevelopment, Mr. Yari says, adding that there’s nothing “historic and quaint” about the SRP trash-collection site.

“It’s sort of in the forgotten step-child of the corner,” he said. “This prime corner of Scottsdale and Camelback is such a prime address and this is a forgotten quadrant behind kind of a trash collector, canal switch-station. I think the entertainment district revitalized it to what it is today.”

Head of Development, Boyce O’Brien, added that this project’s plans includes creating a dynamic and interactive experience at the ground level, which includes art, shade and shadows, hardscape and landscape.

“It’s really focused on the connectivity and the whole street-level experience,” Mr. O’Brien said.

“And I think that’s under-stated on this development as well. There will be a very large amount of public space on this project both at grade and above grade.”

Mr. Yari says while the group faced public scrutiny for the size of the Marquee project, this Scottsdale Collective development is not a continuation of that.

“We realized the scale of the Marquee, and for an office building that’s going to attract national and international tenants that we’re looking to attract in the work force in downtown Scottsdale we needed the footprint to be larger so that the office space is conducive to what the demand is in the market,” Mr. Yari said. “But the reception we got from the community after, or towards the latter part of entitlement, we really paid attention to make sure there was community involvement in this project.”

As for the timing of announcing a project during the midst of a global pandemic, Rose Moser Allyn Public & Online Relations President Jason Rose --- who represents Stockdale Capital Partners --- says the group is experienced and lived through the Great Recession, which provided insight into the other side of a calamity.

“To be first in line and to have your projects ready to go when things do improve, is smart business. And a lot of other people just put their projects on ice and didn’t have the wherewithal to move forward; these guys showed their commitment to Scottsdale by putting them in a place to succeed when the chaos clears,” Mr. Rose said.

Mr. Yari estimates their investment between all the phases will around $400 million-$500 million. Meanwhile, the development will attract jobs and businesses to the area, diversify the local economy and tax base to bring life back to the area.

In need of a shot-in-the-arm now

Mr. Yari says he’s been doing neighborhood-focused community outreach, with meetings held as early as last November. Prior to COVID-19, Mr. Yari also hosted numerous walking tours in the area with neighborhood business and property owners.

Janet Floyd Wilson, the chairman of Committee For the Preservation of Old Town Scottsdale --- who led a referendum petition to overturn the council’s approval of SouthBridge Two --- says she has not met with Mr. Yari and didn’t know much about Scottsdale Collective.

“It cannot be empathized enough that we are not against development or redevelopment. We are against massive development containing 15 stories in the downtown area. That is not in keeping with the character of our low mass downtown,” Ms. Wilson said in an email to the Independent. “We are asking the City Council to listen to the citizens of Scottsdale. That why they were elected.”

Pejman Gallery owner, Bob Pejman, on the other hand did meet with Mr. Yari sometime in early 2020. While he knows of the Scottsdale Collective redevelopment, he says he wants to know more specific details of the project before he gives an opinion, such as height, use and parking.

He did point out though, the timing of the project is interesting.

“I don’t know enough to have an opinion,” he said. “I have to look at it. I know that height and density is an issue right now. This much I will say, I am surprised it is put on the table at this stage, right before elections.”

Mr. Pejman says he thinks this project will become a political topic.

“I will also say that the notion here is that there’s a developer who’s willing to invest money at a time of COVID-19 where not many are willing to invest, but who knows when it’s going to be built,” Mr. Pejman said, pointing to numerous projects who receive city approval but get postponed.

“There are many projects that have been approved that didn’t get built or they’re still in the pipeline. So it’s not that this going to necessarily spur the economy right now when we need it. So the approval can be granted and still nothing takes place.”

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