Cantor: Economic vitality is far from the only consideration needed for redevelopment

Scottsdale infill development lacks community vision

By Nancy Cantor
Posted 5/21/20

Recently, we experienced a land use case that our City Council allowed to happen because of their lack of awareness of the changes and needs of our community regarding housing and infill …

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Cantor: Economic vitality is far from the only consideration needed for redevelopment

Scottsdale infill development lacks community vision

Posted

Recently, we experienced a land use case that our City Council allowed to happen because of their lack of awareness of the changes and needs of our community regarding housing and infill development.

Problems started to fester when the City Council abolished the Housing Board in 2012 about the same time that council launched its plan for economic revitalization concentrating on redeveloping the Motor Mile in the McDowell Corridor.

The idea was to focus on the approved plan for SkySong on the Los Arcos Mall site, which was mixed use high rise residential and a variety of commercial offerings with an increase in density.

The plan was to create increased density in the McDowell Corridor to boost investment and economic revitalization for all of Scottsdale within that corridor.

What most residents did not understand is just what the McDowell Corridor is.

What it isn’t is just McDowell Road, from the city line with Phoenix to the center-line of Pima Road, and a few blocks north and south of the center-line of McDowell Road. Nope.

The McDowell Corridor does run east and west to the city lines, but it runs south to the city-line with Tempe and north to Osborn Road.

Encompassed in this area are most of the larger mature residential neighborhoods that were affordable for many years and brought families with children that spurred Scottsdale’s growth. Neighborhoods that supported the city’s reputation as a good place to raise a family, and a great place to visit for families with children.

Today we have “gentrification” and “high rise, high density luxury multifamily” housing both of which drive up housing costs pushing housing out of reach of young workforce families.

Before the Housing Board was abolished we tried to impress upon the City Council that housing trends and types needed to be studied as part of economic revitalization.

That discussion never took place even when it was suggested that housing issues from types of housing, to housing as infill projects and their impact on existing neighborhoods, to green building to increased traffic due to multifamily density with no new streets. And heavens to Murgatroyd, do not mention public safety needs or space for socializing.

Long range planning is important especially when dealing with redevelopment, kind of like building those high rise buildings. The architect has a vision of what the end result should look like. There is no such vision for what redevelopment should look like or what results are intended except to promote economic revitalization on the backs of our mature neighborhoods.

That is a failure of leadership that depended upon master planned communities to handle growth for way too many years.

Editor’s Note: Nancy Cantor is a longtime Scottsdale resident and community advocate.

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