La Maison malaise prompts continuance of Kierland development

The La Maison site where DMB is looking to further the form-based, multiuse zoning approach now prevalent in the Scottsdale Kierland area. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia)

DMB Circle Road Partners has reportedly asked the Phoenix Planning and Zoning Commission for a continuance on its proposed mixed-use, high-rise development proposal at north Scottsdale Road and east Kierland Boulevard.

Officials at the Kierland Community Alliance contend the continuance is at the behest of an adjacent property owner to the proposed high-rise development.

Both Phoenix and Scottsdale residents say the Kierland Community Alliance was formed to serve as a neighborhood organization to provide a collective voice for development standards that maintain the character of the area.

In an Aug. 1 letter to the Phoenix Planning and Development Department, legal representation for DMB confirm the request was made to allow for additional time to address questions from a nearby property owner regarding traffic patterns and cut-through traffic.

The landowner is Lumature furniture store owner Mark Kerzner whose Scottsdale business opened in the Kierland area two decades ago. Mr. Kerzner, in a July 30 letter to the Phoenix mayor and city council, said he had “grave concerns” and opposition to the proposal for the

DMB project, officials at the Kierland Community Alliance contend.

At La Maison Interiors, 15450 N. Scottsdale Road, the owners of the property — Scottsdale-based DMB Associates — seek to create a multi-use structure spanning more than 100 feet in the air, which is expected to house retail offerings and luxury dwellings potentially connected to a luxury resort brand.

Since La Maison is on the west side of Scottsdale Road, Phoenix City Council has jurisdiction over the development case. Residents contend the project is too dense, too tall and will ultimately set a new development precedent taking away from the hometown charm of already established luxury towers and multifamily settings.

More than 700 area residents have written letters and signed petitions in opposition to the development, primarily citing their overall concern for how the project would affect future development along Scottsdale Road between Paradise Lane and Thunderbird Road.

Following resident outcry, the Village Committee — an advisory board to the Phoenix Planning Commission, which provides recommendations to Phoenix City Council — voted 9-5 to forward approval of the project with stipulations attached. That vote occurred last month.

Those amended stipulations include:

  • A reduction of the proposed 196 feet of height down to 120 feet;
  • A 40 percent reduction in overall density of hotel room or multifamily dwellings; and
  • A requirement DMB officials comply with all of the city’s parking requirements ultimately requiring an additional two underground parking floors.

It is unclear when the case will be brought forward to the city’s Planning Commission, but it could be on the Sept. 6 meeting agenda, after which, the Phoenix City Council is expected to vote on the matter.

The Scottsdale Independent contacted the Phoenix Planning Department to better understand the zoning case at-hand. This is what Maja Brkovic, who serves as the Paradise Valley Village Planning Committee liaison at the city of Phoenix, said:

•In the city of Phoenix, what does Planned Unit Development zoning mean and why was this zoning classification created?

The PUD is intended to create a built environment that is superior to that produced by conventional zoning districts and design guidelines. Using a collaborative and comprehensive approach, an applicant writes a document proposing standards and guidelines that are tailored to the context of a site on a case by case basis.

•For the proposal at the La Maison Furniture site, what would a zoning change from Commercial Planned Community District to PUD allow the applicant to accomplish?

The PUD would accomplish a mixed-use development with multifamily residential at a higher density, 120-foot height, reduced hotel parking by 0.4 percent and a reduced setback along Scottsdale Road. All of the proposed building setbacks in the development narrative are greater than what is permitted by the Phoenix Zoning Ordinance in the comparable zoning district. Majority of the landscape setbacks exceed the comparable zoning district requirements with one exception, the eastern landscape setback requires a 7-foot minimum compared to a 30-foot average setback.

However, the southwestern portion of the site will provide for a large open space pedestrian plaza that will connect to the site from Scottsdale Road. The remainder of the landscape setbacks are larger on three sides compared to the requirement of the Phoenix Zoning Ordinance and require that larger trees be planted at a minimum of 50 percent, 2-inch and 50 percent, 3-inch caliper.

The PUD narrative proposes that a minimum of 70 percent open space be provided. The 70 percent open spaces will encompass the net area of the site, which includes passive and active landscape areas, shaded pedestrian pathways, pedestrian plaza and above grave open amenity areas. The 70 percent open space standards exceed the minimum 5 percent open space area otherwise required for multifamily developments of the zoning ordinance

•What are the height and density restrictions for a Commercial Planned Community District in Phoenix?

The C-2 zoning district allows a maximum height of 2-stores and 30-feet and a maximum density of 15.23

•What are the height and density restrictions for a Planned Unit Development in Phoenix?

There are no restrictions, the PUD allows the applicant to write their own standards in the development narrative.

•Specifically what height and density levels are being pursued at the La Maison Furniture site by DMB Circle Road Partners?

The PUD proposes a maximum height of 120 feet or 196 feet and a maximum density of 440 density units per acre.

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

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