When over 100 local business owners join forces in support a development that will protect their livelihoods and the vitality of Scottsdale’s downtown, City Council needs to listen up.
Scottsdale’s unique shops and restaurants are a vital component of our city’s international allure. Yet the heart of Scottsdale’s downtown is in decline.
Buildings are vacant, homelessness up, crime up, and profits down. When businesses fail, landlords fail and this opens the door for developers to swoop in and buy up entire blocks in order to tear down and build back with height.
The businessmen and women that I recently met with at Schmooze envision a different path. It is worth noting that many live and work downtown and quite a few were born here. With council’s support they will build a year-round thriving and walkable neighborhood.
A business climate that attracts new businesses and enables landlords to renovate and preserve the many low-rise buildings in the area. All of which will generate more taxes that can be reinvested back in our downtown. Success is a multiplier but so is failure.
For this reason, their message to council is united and clear: Vote “yes” on The Kimsey.
Constituent support for a development proposal is a major factor in my consideration but not the only factor. Residents citywide expect their council to negotiate for excellence. As with every development, the first iteration of the Kimsey didn’t cut it for me. In its initial form, the project was a 96-foot block of buildings disconnected in height and design from the area and would have demolished Scottsdale’s original City Hall: The Kimsey.
Months of negotiations and constituent input later, the Kimsey has been transformed into a mid-century modern gem of a community that includes three-story townhomes, a residential building and boutique hotel (both six-stories), shaded pedestrian corridors, public art, and the creation of a historic landmark.
How did we get from here to there? Here are some of the negotiated wins along the way:
1. Reduced height 20 feet from high to mid-rise, six floors.
2. Reversed zoning after five-year mark if project is not underway. A first in Scottsdale.
3. Permanent historic preservation of the Kimsey building
4. Pedestrian connectivity with perpetual public access including a large N-S paseo.
5. Parking allotment based on anticipated parking code being considered by council this year.
While showcasing Scottsdale’s mid-century modern architecture, the project will adhere to Scottsdale’s international green construction building code and includes a driver-less parking garage, which is a first in Arizona. With shaded wide sidewalks, pedestrian thru ways, trees and public art — the Kimsey will deliver the vibrant neighborhood envisioned by the local business owners and has earned my support.
Editor’s Note: Solange Whitehead is an elected member of Scottsdale City Council.