A project seeking to redevelop a multifamily residential area in the heart of Scottsdale has been met with overwhelming, unanimous approval by city officials.
On Nov. 3, the Scottsdale City Council voted 7-0 to approve a major General Plan amendment to construct mixed-use development, Gentry on the Green, upon 41.5 acres.
The request is for a four-story development project comprised of five buildings, and additional buildings with up to 156,000 square feet of commercial floor area and up to 1,864 dwelling units to be built over two phases, replacing two 1970s-era apartment complexes.
The owner of Gentry on the Green proposes to demolish the existing apartment and condominiums for redevelopment of a new mixed-use project, which is poised to be open, without walls, officials say.
The demolition and construction would occur in multiple phases over several years.
Phase one, which is 26.53 acres of the total 41.5 acres, will include four residential buildings with approximately 1,214 residential units and 41,000 square feet of commercial floor area to be located on the ground floor of the residential buildings.
Development of Phase Two will likely be 10 or more years in the future and may include up to 650 dwelling units in combination with up to 115,000 square feet of non-residential floor area.
The site is planned to have one access point on east Camelback Road, and three access points onto north 78th Street.
A large linear open space plaza is proposed to be centrally located within the second phase, which is presented to provide passive and active open space, with a pedestrian and bicycle connection from north 78th Street to the Indian Bend wash.
The two existing apartment complexes that would be demolished are Visconti on the Glen, built in 1979, and The Glen at Old Town, build in 1973. The average price for square foot of these complexes is $1.35 and $1.47, respectively, with average rents between $1,200 and $1,350.
Gentry on the Green is owned by ColRich/CH Glen, and represented by prominent zoning attorneys John Berry and Michele Hammond of Berry Riddell.
In addition to members of City Council lauding the project and its amenities --- including public art and a bicycle component --- several members of the public commented on the project as well, both for and against the proposal.
Residents of Visconti on the Glen spoke about their concern of losing their housing.
“I don’t want to be homeless,” Tracy Lendyok, a 17-year resident of Visconti said.
“I like where I live. I’ve lived there a long time; there’s people --- Dorthy’s lived there for 35 years --- it’s not an eyesore or disgusting place, but thank you for calling my home that, Mr. Berry. It’s people’s homes. There’s over 1,500 apartments, and over 2,000 people’s lives that will be affected by this.”
Ms. Lendyok says she doesn’t want to sound bitter or angry, and wishes to continue living in Scottsdale.
“There’s so much retail that already sits empty at the Fashion Square, and Old Town. Why put in more, and more, and more until you fill up what you already have?” she asked.
“There’s lots of places in this city that this could be done, but why destroy three apartment communities that have just re-done, to the tune of $1 million, of painting, re-doing the pool, the fitness center. The apartments are getting top-dollar, almost $2,000 for some of the apartments they’re charging there.”
Mr. Berry, of the Berry Riddell law firm, says Gentry on the Green and some of its components are named after former Scottsdale officials who led the charge on the Indian Bend Wash: Bill Walton and Billie Gentry.
Pointing out some of the unique aspects of the project, Mr. Berry says the project seeks to improve the area after 47 years of the wash’s initial construction.
“With Gentry on the Green, the proposal in front of you tonight, we celebrate, we embrace the Indian Bend Wash,” said Zoning Attorney John Berry, during his presentation to council.
“This is a project that has more open space than required --- 10% is required --- we’re doing 36% open space. Of that open space, 33% of the site is public open space, open to the public.”
Mr. Berry says it isn’t just about the space, but the quality of public open space available to residents and visitors, pointing out a voluntary public art component.
Plans include a “Walton Pavilion” that will be a gateway to the Indian Bend Wash, such like a trailhead, Mr. Berry said.
“It will be a place that will be visible from Hayden; it will be something people will talk about in terms of architecture; it will be a place to rent bikes; for people to meet; it will be a major boon for bicycle tourism,” Mr. Berry said, pointing to the proposed pavilion. “This is the selfie-spot along the Indian Bend Wash.”
The public art is valued at more than $1.2 million, Mr. Berry claims.
In addition, there are sustainability aspects including solar, permeable pavement, rainwater harvesting and shaded widewalks.
Overall, Mr. Berry says new city revenue will be more than $1.8 million annually.
“If I can get kind of personal for you --- my first zoning case in Scottsdale was in 1984 for the Mayo Clinic,” Mr. Berry explained.
“On the council at that time serving her last term was Billie Gentry; and I had the privilege of working with Billie. It really is fulfilling for me to be able to honor her contribution to the community in so many ways by calling this Gentry on the Green.”
In response to Ms. Lendyok’s concern of being homeless, and pointing to a lack of relocation plan, Mr. Berry says the residents will not be left out on the street.
“I have to stress, this will be 10 to 15 years away, most likely, before there will be a need for that type of relocation,” Mr. Berry said.
The long-term resident relocation program includes:
Members of City Council all expressed their pleasure with this project, noting its benefit to the overall community.
Councilwoman Virginia Korte called the process by ColRich “thoughtful.”
“I tip my hat off to the ColRich group for bringing forward this great project. I’ve liked it from the very beginning, and I like it a lot more now because of the amenities and the rich components that have been brought into this,” Ms. Korte said, before making a motion to approve the request before council.
“Not only as a sense of place and a great place to live, but a community benefit. What a great combination that is.”
Councilman Guy Phillips seconded the motion, saying he believes this project has been thoroughly vetted and will be a good part of the city.
Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp agreed, saying she also thinks its a great project.
“I like the emphasis on bicycle tourism that’s involved in this project,” Ms. Klapp said.
“Scottsdale’s been called a Gold-level bicycle city now. I’m in hopes that a project like this will move the needle to help make us a platinum-level bicycle city. I think that Scottsdale needs to be even more recognized for the bicycling community here.”
Ms. Klapp pointed to the need to tie downtown to the greenbelt.
“There’s just so many things we could do with a project such as this, that has a bicycle orientation to it,” Ms. Klapp said.
Mayor Jim Lane also patted ColRich on the back, saying they have gone above and beyond.
“I will certainly be supporting it,” Mr. Lane said prior to the vote.
“I think this is one of those extraordinary events where ColRich has gone above and beyond, absolutely, and from the very start. Any, even slight concern I’ve had with regard to the project has been answered here or previous to this meeting tonight. I am thankful, and I want to thank ColRich for what they’ve brought to the table and the example they’ve set here.”