City Council approvals make way for 2 Scottsdale healthcare centers

The Scottsdale Planning Commission listens to presentations during a 2017 meeting. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez).

Two new residential healthcare centers will soon start development in Scottsdale following municipal approval this summer.

On Aug. 28 Scottsdale City Council unanimously approved its consent agenda, which included two applications to adopt resolutions and ordinances approving:

  • A non-major General Plan amendment to change land use designation for a residential senior living health care facility, Wolff Legacy Scottsdale;
  • A zoning district map ordinance on a 14-acre site located north and west of the northwest corner of east Legacy Boulevard and north Pima Road for Wolff Legacy Scottsdale; and
  • A zoning district map amendment from service residential to commercial office zoning on 3.92 acres of a 4.5-acre site at 8102 E. Camelback Road for a project entitled Spectrum-Camelback.

The two projects unanimously passed Planning Commission at the end of June with a singular 4-0 vote after three commissioners recused themselves.

Larry Kush, Prescott Smith and Ali Fakih are the three Commissioners with declared vested interests in these projects.

Scottsdale zoning attorney, John Berry, is representing both projects and says they are not connected.

“No, just the attorney for two different clients, two different operators,” Mr. Berry said of his name on two residential community development applications, that had the same three Planning Commissions recuse themselves.

Both applications show their engineer is SEG Sustainability Engineering Group, which Mr. Fakih is listed as owner. Mr. Smith’s employer, Technical Solutions, and his name are listed on the application as having done outreach for the Spectrum-Camelback development.

According to conflict of interest declaration forms provided to the Independent, for the Spectrum project, Mr. Fakih described his interest as “DD on the project”; Mr. Kush wrote “Broker on deal”; and Mr. Smith wrote “I have done work on this project.”

On the forms for Legacy Scottsdale, Mr. Fakih wrote “Did work w/ Wolff on another project”; Mr. Kush wrote “I have done realty work for Wolfe on other matters”; and Mr. Smith wrote “I have done work on this project.”

Wolff Legacy Scottsdale is planned to be on a 14-acre site in north Scottsdale. (graphic by city of Scottsdale)

Wolff Legacy Scottsdale

Wolff Legacy Scottsdale, owned by Michael Lieb of Torino Holdings, LLC is planned to develop a vacant 14-acre parcel comprised of a new clubhouse building with two, three-story wings, a central pool and outdoor amenity space. Additionally, single-story cottages are oriented in a duplex pattern along the west and north edges, according to a city staff report.

The requested area of change is below the 15-acre threshold to qualify a development as a major General Plan amendment.

Wolff Legacy Scottsdale sought, and was granted, a non-major General Plan amendment to change the land-use designation from commercial to office. Secondly, an approved ordinance sets in motion a zoning district map amendment from industrial park, environmentally sensitive lands, hillside district and commercial office, ESL, hillside district to commercial office, ESL.

Mr. Berry says the office zoning designation allows for residential uses within the city’s guidelines.

Scottsdale’s Director of Current Planning and Planning Commission staff representative Tim Curtis says the purpose of the rezoning was for a taller allowed building height.

“Both districts allow the residential health care facility,” he said.

Proposed building height is 48 feet, measured from existing natural grade, with a proposed 13 dwelling units per gross-lot area. The density proposed is 175 units, the staff report states.

The north Scottsdale development is neighboring the La Curvata office development, Christ Church of the Valley, Scottsdale Water Campus and a combination of residential densities, commercial retail and state land.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Spectrum-Camelback health center. (graphic courtesy of city of Scottsdale)

Spectrum-Camelback

The Spectrum-Camelback is redeveloping the former home of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, 8102 E. Camelback Road.

The owner is Mike Longfellow of Colorado-based Spectrum Development.

The approved zoning map amendment changed the area from service residential to commercial office zoning. The applicant’s request is for a 116-bed specialized residential health care facility to provide both assisted living and memory care within a two and three-story building on the subject site.

The proposed building height is 39.5 feet, less than the allowable 48-foot limit.

On Sept. 7, Orion Investment Real Estate sent out a press release on their plans.

Mr. Kush was quoted in the press release.

“I am proud to be a part of the team that will bring such a high quality opportunity for elderly care to downtown Scottsdale,” Mr. Kush said in the prepared statement.

Mr. Kush, vice president of Orion, represented the buyer in the transaction, the press release stated.

The press release states Spectrum-Camelback will be a 110-room, three-story facility with unobstructed views of Camelback, Mummy and the McDowell Mountains.

Not an issue

Kathy Littlefield

Scottsdale City Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield says the commissioners did the right thing by recusing themselves, calling it the proper thing to do.

“It would be unethical to not recuse themselves,” she said. “A lot of Planning Commissioners are in the development field, architects, developers themselves. If they had a conflict of interest it was right for them to recuse themselves, and should do so before the conversation started.”

Ms. Littlefield did point out that the more recusals Commissioners must take, the less opportunity for good work to be done at the dais.

“They did leave fewer Planning Commissioners to make the decision, that’s one of the problems I have with having so many developers on Planning Commission because that can happen,” she said.

“They did the right thing to recuse themselves, but you don’t have the full Commission to ask questions that need to be asked.”

“It’s a problem if you don’t think the remaining Commissioners will do their due diligence. I do think they will, so I’m not overly concerned with it.”

According to the 2017 Planning Commission Annual Report provided by Mr. Curtis, the issue of several recusals on an agenda item doesn’t happen often.

In 2017 Planning Commission held 22 meetings, and had 73 major topics of discussion/action taken.

Within that time period, there were a total of 19 recusals. From January through December 2017:

  • Ali Fakih: 7 recusals
  • Prescott Smith: 10 recusals
  • Kelsey Young: 2 recusals.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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