What’d He Say? Ray Torres, AGAIN

It must be Ray Torres month at the Scottsdale Republic. I’m going to submit this article as a letter to the editor and see if I get half as much ink as Ray.

In his “My Turn” column [reproduced below because I can’t find it on AZCentral and presume you can’t either] Ray says,

In the last two years, private investment has bet on Scotts­dale along with the majority vote of City Council, signaling that this city is open for business.

Private investment has always bet on Scottsdale, where historically (if not currently) high development standards have ensured an attractive, open, low-density environment, and high demand. This isn’t new, it didn’t just happen in the last two years, and it sure didn’t happen because of the current City Council or Torres crony, mayor Jim Lane.

At least one of the projects the Torres cites to prove his point–Blue Sky–just north of Downtown Scottsdale, has yet to turn the first shovel-full of dirt, in spite of assertions from the developer and representatives that it was ‘shovel ready’ over a year ago.

Two of the projects seeking rezoning are under legal protest from neighboring residents. I suppose those are the “certain naysayers” and “worrywarts” to which Torres refers as causing “impeded development.” Foolish people who want to maintain their quality of life!

Mr. Torres, development impedes itself when it asks for a community to lower its development standards.  Any of these developers could have followed the existing zoning rules and built IMMEDIATELY with no delay at all. Don’t blame the residents who will have to suffer with these shoddy, high-density housing projects for delaying your buddies in their rule-breaking.

The long term picture (which is supposedly the primary objective of city planning) is even worse. Every homeowner in the area is going to see their property value reduced by careless additions to the housing market supply, compared to communities that uphold their development policies. As Chris Schaffner is fond of saying, “No one ever succeeded by lowering their standards.”

Torres delivers another gem: “Private investment, or smart money, flows where the opportu­nities show economic promise and man­ageable resistance to new development.”

In case you were wondering, “manageable resistance,” means resident complaints that can be squelched. What a jerk.

In the sentence after that, Torres says, “Supply and demand encourage private investment.”

No, demand and shortage of supply encourage investment. I’m not sure the name “Adam Smith” has any meaning to “business consultant” Torres.

More from Ray:

Rezoning should happen. Strange as it sounds, residents in these areas would like economic development and vitality, but certain naysayers want to stall this project and others. Creating doubt and fear while asking residents to file complaints with the city is their no-growth tactic.

I’m not aware of anyone “asking” residents to file complaints. I am, however, aware of residents adjoining these bad projects asking how they can stop the steamroller. Several have asked me. Given the current City Council (and Lane), legal protest is their only option.

By and large, any impeded devel­opment brought about by a faction of worrywarts turns away smart money and leaves the city with blighted areas. This is not the Scottsdale way.

Scottsdale has plenty of blighted areas that long predate the residents’ complaints about bad development and the broken government that approves that development. A good deal of that blight was caused by government assisting developers in overreaching market demand.

Solis north of Camelback comes to mind. I didn’t see that in Ray’s list, come to think of it. Earll Condominiums is another. Vivendi on Hayden isn’t exactly blighted because it is still being maintained (by the church, apparently), but it’s another example of over reach.

So, my advice to you is don’t hire Ray Torres as a “business consultant,” because he clearly has overreached his understanding of basic economics. Now if you want to hire him in order to get some juice with the mayor, that may be a different story…

Here’s Ray’s “My Turn”:

City sees welcome growth in private investment

Private development and invest­ment are important to the country. It is the engine of all engines for economic growth.

More than 12 percent of all invest­ment assets under professional manage­ment in the United States — $3.07 trillion out of $25.2 trillion, at the start of 2010 — is held by individuals, institutions, invest­ment companies and money managers.

Scottsdale and oth­er cities in the Valley of the Sun are experiencing an uptick in private investment, especially with regard to commercial and residential development. In the last two years, private investment has bet on Scotts­dale along with the majority vote of City Council, signaling that this city is open for business.

Phenomenal projects are unfolding, such as the first phase of a $61.6 million upscale apartment project — Jefferson at One Scottsdale in north Scottsdale — just to name one of many northern projects in the economic hopper.

In addition, the city is seeing major development in its downtown, such as the $135 million Blue Sky apartments near Scottsdale Fashion Square; the Optima Sonoran Village condominium complex and other Hovey projects in Scottsdale totaling a $140 million in­vestment; and the $54 million Broad­stone at Waterfront. Stronger com­merce activity emerging from the de­velopment is bound to support the mer­chants and restaurants in the long term.

And then there is McDowell Road, no longer the “motor mile” it was once branded. That area of the city is not far behind what is happening in economic growth up north and in downtown. Sky-Song, the ASU Innovation Center, re­cently announced a $44 million project that will involve a 325-unit apartment complex, and Mark-Taylor is moving ahead with a plan for its 536-unit pro­ject nearby.

On the horizon is another project, Las Aguas. It is planned to sit on the 5-acre lot where Pitre Buick car dealer once stood. Chason Development Inc. is seeking rezoning to allow it to build a 154-unit apartment complex. It could turn out to be a prime location.

Several years ago, the city and Phoe­nix were in talks about the possibility of Scottsdale annexing part of the land­mark Papago Buttes, and developing a small amphitheater to fit within the recreational scheme of the buttes.

Rezoning should happen. Strange as it sounds, residents in these areas would like economic development and vitality, but certain naysayers want to stall this project and others. Creating doubt and fear while asking residents to file complaints with the city is their no-growth tactic.

The city is bustling with develop­ment activity from north to south, and it’s about time! Private investment, or smart money, flows where the opportu­nities show economic promise and man­ageable resistance to new development. Supply and demand encourage private investment.

By and large, any impeded devel­opment brought about by a faction of worrywarts turns away smart money and leaves the city with blighted areas. This is not the Scottsdale way.

Ray Torres is president of Torres & Associates LLC, a Scottsdale business-consulting firm.

Scottsdale and other cities in the Valley are experiencing an uptick in private investment, especially with regard to commercial and residential development. In the last two years, private investment has bet on Scottsdale along with the majority vote of City Council.

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