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.