Scottsdale Entrada aspires to become fuel for McDowell Road revitalization

An artist’s rendering of what the proposed Scottsdale Entrada project along McDowell Road and 64th Street could look like. (Special to the Independent)

A deserted southern Scottsdale region once home to marquee car dealerships may become an economic development linchpin for the burgeoning McDowell Road Corridor, proponents of a new multifamily housing development contend.

During a Nov. 14 Scottsdale City Council meeting, elected leaders unanimously approved to adopt a zoning district map for an area that has sat vacant for 15 years.

Plans for the new site project, coined Scottsdale Entrada, includes a mixed-use development that could include up to 750 residential units, 250 hotel units, 50,000 square feet of commercial space and a minimum of 250,000 square feet of office space.

The Scottsdale Entrada, which sits at 64th Street and McDowell Road, aims to become a key part of the McDowell Road Corridor renaissance pursued by city council.

In October 2010, the Southern Scottsdale Character Area Plan was adopted. One of themes of the plan is to encourage redevelopment and revitalization of southern Scottsdale, as well as acknowledging a need for diversity of housing choice.

The McDowell Road Corridor is an eight-square mile area spanning from McDowell Road to Pima Road, west to Phoenix, and includes surrounding neighborhoods north to Osborn and south to the city limits.

The approved amendment applies to 23 acres of general commercial zoning and approximately .06 acres of open space to be zoned as planned unit development, including approval of a development plan with amended development standards for a 23.06-acre site.

Local residents and members of the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance showed up to the council meeting to voice their support for the project.

The city’s General Plan designates the McDowell Road Corridor, as a growth area — defined by city staff as an area of the community that accommodates future growth through transportation and infrastructure, and is intended to discourage sprawl by focusing new development into these targeted areas along the Corridor.

“This really is what revitalization and redevelopment is all about, and it’s exactly why the PUD, which is a mixed-use, was set up in this manner,” Mayor Jim Lane said at the November city council meeting.

“Frankly, that it created an attraction of this kind of investment, Sun Chase, I just want to commend and congratulate you. I’d also like to commend the neighbors and Gateway Alliance for recognizing what revitalization is.”

The Scottsdale Development Review Board recommended approval to the council with a 7-0 vote on Aug. 18, and the Planning Commission recommended approval with a 7-0 vote on Sept. 28.

Scottsdale Entrada has frontage on McDowell Road, a major arterial designated in the 2016 Master Transportation Plan. In October 2014, the city council added additional transit service along this stretch of road. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

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Applicant, Ed Bull of Burch & Cracchiolo, calls the site one of a kind.

“Our site, as you know from the report and the presentation this is certainly unusual if not unique,” he said at the Nov. 14 meeting. “The site, as you know, is the gate to McDowell Road Corridor. It is an opportunity, we believe, through your PUD zoning district to use this site once assembled as an opportunity to help revitalize the city’s corridor.”

The site made up of eight gerrymandered parcels seeking to create a “landmark” location to greet motorists from the west into the city.

“We welcome the opportunity to welcome people to Scottsdale, to welcome people to Scottsdale’s McDowell Road Corridor,” he said.

The team working on Scottsdale Entrada has worked closely with residents to answer and mitigate their concerns.

“It’s pretty obvious that the people who live in the area are thrilled about this project,” said Scottsdale City Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp. “It is a great addition to McDowell Road. It is our top priority here on the council to see redevelopment along McDowell Road.”

Ms. Klapp says she attended the Planning Commission meeting, a public meeting on the project and has met with residents recently to discuss the Scottsdale Entrada.

“It was amazing to me to see the amount of discussion between the developer and the neighbors at the public meeting,” Ms. Klapp said.

“I understand that there were some objections before that public meeting that I attended. They took the time to address every single problem, issue, concern that came up with the neighbors, and it was a great meeting to see that the developer of the project could work that closely with the neighborhood.”

Councilman David Smith called Scottsdale Entrada a true definition of a mixed-use project.

“I would point out to anyone listening to look at this project as being a true definition of a mixed-use project and probably a true response to what the council meant many years ago when they first incorporated this Planned Use Development,” said Mr. Smith.

“There is a genuine interest to turn this into what was envisioned by the council.”

No. 1 goal

In 2013 Scottsdale City Council identified major strategies and goals, No. 1 being the McDowell Road Corridor.

Scottsdale City Councilwoman Virginia Korte has long been vested in the McDowell Road community. In 1981, Ms. Korte joined her family business, Ray Korte Chevrolet, until selling the dealership in 1998.

Virginia Korte

“McDowell Road has always been a major center of commerce,” said Ms. Korte in a Dec. 20 phone interview. “Historically, it’s been a major center of commerce. There was once 32 franchises in one-square mile.”

The area earned itself the title of The Motor Mile, generating millions of dollars of tax revenue for the city.

“When the dealerships began to leave we knew we needed to re-purpose those sites,” she said. “Creative investors and developers have been coming in and mitigating those challenges and re-purposing the old automobile dealership lots to really make an exciting and vibrant center.”

In an effort to bring a breath of fresh air to the area the city council reduced building fees within the corridor in April 2015 with a two-year program ending April 4, 2017.

Recent projects in the area include multi-family residential communities Diamante, Las Aguas, San Travesia, The TOMSCOT; single-family subdivision Zara Court; and commercial businesses McFate Brewing, Hertz Car Sales and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

“The developer and their representatives worked very hard with the residents and worked with the residents for over a year to really answer and mitigate their concerns,” said Ms. Korte. “I really believe they accomplished that.”

The shift from commerce to mixed use requires residential areas first, and retail and other uses will follow, Ms. Korte says.

“I congratulate the developer and Ed Bull in just their hard work and working with the neighborhood to make this something that is good for everyone,” Ms. Korte said.

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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