Council Collaboration for Controversy

This column was published under “MY TURN” in Wednesday’s Scottsdale Republic:

Some Council-approved projects aren’t Scottsdale assets

By Ben Cowles

In a recent Q&A with the Scottsdale Republic , Councilwoman Virginia Korte said there is more collabora­tion in the current City Council than in recent councils. I agree, but offer a different perspective.

Last year, 4-3 votes often prevailed in favor of controversial projects. Cur­rently, we are apt to see 5-2 votes on similar issues, favoring questionable projects.

With 46 years of experience in com­mercial real estate — 12 years in South­ern California followed by 34 in Scotts­dale, where I moved in 1961 — I fear an oversupply of high-price rental apart­ments in Scottsdale. I do not consider the following projects to be assets to our city:

  • The Portales apartments at 68th Street and Camelback. Buildings paint­ed green, orange, blue, turquoise and so on add nothing [I believe Mr. Cowles is actually referring to the Optima Sonoran Village project which is replacing OrchidTree Apartments and which received generously relaxed zoning standards for height and density].
  • Blue Sky, across from Fashion Square mall. They are too high, too dense and will block the views of their neighbors while adding traffic con­gestion. Hopefully, their financing will remain a challenge [Blue Sky also received massive subsidies in the form of waived development standards].
  • The “big box” apartments on the northwestern corner of Scottsdale Road and Lincoln Drive [Broadstone, from an earlier ScottsdaleTrails article]. They are com­pletely out of place in that neighbor­hood. I am reminded of the required expense paid by my client Allan Schwartz in 1980 to gain approval for El Dorado Square, which remains a per­fect blending at the same intersection.

As a 52-year resident of Scottsdale, the aforementioned projects do not add one iota to my quality of life.

When I look at Scottsdale today, I see, in particular, McCormick Ranch, the Indian Bend Wash, a splendid Civic Center complex and Scottsdale Fashion Square, as well as many fine resorts. These are but a few of our city’s assets that have made Scottsdale a wonderful place to live.

That being said, Scottsdale’s leaders should pursue enduring, quality resi­dential elements and promote a more subdued late-night entertainment dis­trict.

Ben Cowles is a Scottsdale resident and has been a member of the Rotary Club of Scottsdale for 27 years.


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