Bye, Bye Borgata

An article in the Scottsdale Republic this morning cites the imminent demolition of Scottsdale’s iconic Borgata upscale shopping center to make way for a high-density housing project.

Among the rationalizations the city will hide behind in approving this project:

A traffic impact study concluded that the residential complex would generate less traffic than the commercial shop­ping center, said Kim Chafin, a Scotts­dale senior planner.

I don’t have issue with Ms. Chafin, but she has fallen for a classic false equivalence that has been used dozens of times just in recent memory to justify violating Scottsdale’s General Plan and the principles of good planning and zoning.

First of all, the traffic impact study (as is typical) assumes worst case for the “commercial shopping center” option. That is to say a highly successful shopping center built to maximum density, which is a bad idea all by itself and far from the low-density (and granted not successful enough) Borgata.

Secondly, the traffic impacts from the proposed housing project are always understated by a significant margin compared to reality.

Unfortunately, even my efforts to point this out are based on the assumption that city staff and the City Council might make zoning decisions based on common sense and best practices…which is itself not based on the reality of the last ten years.

This is not a project or land use that is being advanced based on what’s good for Scottsdale’s community character, quality of life, and/or property values (supply and demand dictates that property values decline with oversupply). These decisions are made based on developers’ (and zoning attorneys’) campaign contributions to Scottsdale mayor Jim Lane and the Chamber of Commerce caucus on the City Council.

And on the topic of supply and demand, the “luxury apartments” known as “Broadstone” are nearing completion just north of Lincoln across from the Lincoln Village Shopping Center, less than a 1/4 mile from the proposed project at the Borgata.

That is another project that never should have been approved for the same reasons. Now the two will compete against each other, driving rents (and property values) down even further.

Welcome to ApartmentDale.

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  1. The Broadstone project appears to be of poor construction and an “eye sore” for Lincoln and Scottdale Road. I agree with you about an over abundance of apartments in that area. Where are all the people coming from to rent these 7,000 plus planned apartments being built in Scottsdale? The integrity of this city is being so compromised with this overbuilding. Thanks for your comments on Scottsdale Trails. All residents should read and become aware of what is happening in this city under the direction of the current political officials.

  2. Thank God someone has the courage and resources to finally rid Scottsdale of the under performing waste of space and cinder blocks known as the Borgata! Kiddos to the developer and City Council! The neighboring businesses and I welcome the new residents with open arms!

  3. Since when is it the city council’s job to protect a 1980s cinder block strip mall…from its owner. What’s the real agenda for trying to preserve this relic of the Carter / disco era? It’s the architectural equivelant of a Pontiac TransAm.

  4. I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the Borgata was (and is) widely acclaimed for its design…and for full disclosure, I like it myself. But that’s really mixing two different debates.

    The residents, through the voter-ratified General Plan, said they wanted this area to be low-scale, low-density, low-impact retail. If there is any “agenda” on the part of the opponents to Cabrini, this is it.

    But I reiterate my point from the article that cramming a bunch of new residents into the area (or the city in general) is a fundamental violation of the co-dependent goals of planning and zoning: Quality of life for existing residents, and property values. THAT is the primary function of city government.

    I do appreciate your perspective, and I believe many of the planning changes we are making are driven by the same perspectives. So, it’s good to have this discussion and I thank you for that.

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