Scottsdale eyes fee schedule to spur McDowell revitalization

Teresa Joyce, at right, looks over plans last September for her business Doodley Do Dog Grooming at 7607 E. McDowell Road. On Wednesday, March 11 Ms. Joyce reports the business is doing well. (File photo)

Teresa Joyce, at right, looks over plans last September for her business Doodley Do Dog Grooming at 7607 E. McDowell Road. On Wednesday, March 11 Ms. Joyce reports the business is doing well. (File photo)

Scottsdale city staff are expected to present to city council a plan they say could help spur additional economic activity within the McDowell Corridor as public and private revitalization efforts continue.

Resolution 9990 — the McDowell Corridor Fee Schedule — temporarily modifies certain residential and commercial development fees. If adopted, the new fees would be in place for two years, according to Scottsdale Senior Planner Kim Chafin.

Scottsdale City Council will have the final say in the matter as the proposed resolution will appear on the March 17 city council meeting agenda held at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

“The McDowell Corridor Fee Schedule is a two-year temporary program designed to encourage reinvestment to bring additional economic activity in to the area, grow property values, and much like a domino effect, encourage other owners and businesses to reinvest in their properties,” said Ms. Chafin in a March 10 written response to e-mailed questions.

There was a time when portions of McDowell Road served as a major commercial artery pumping a constant flow of revenue into the coffers of local proprietors and the municipality of Scottsdale.

Once referred to as the Scottsdale “Motor Mile,” the area saw an exodus of business over the past decade as low- and high-end car dealerships sought greener pastures in different parts of the Valley of Sun.

Commercial real estate signs like this line McDowell Road along where local officials call the Scottsdale McDowell Corridor. (File photo)

Commercial real estate signs like this line McDowell Road along where local officials call the Scottsdale McDowell Corridor. (File photo)

City leaders refer to the McDowell Corridor as an eight-square-mile area spanning McDowell Road from Pima Road west to Phoenix and including surrounding neighborhoods north to Osborn Road and south to the city limits.

Over the past year the city of Scottsdale has held a series of public meetings to learn what resident and proprietors of the area say would help fuel revitalization efforts.

“A majority of commercial property owners in the area have in mind some type of physical improvement they would like to make to their property, but are hesitant to move forward because they don’t want to be the only one in the area to take a risk,” Ms. Chafin said. “Cost of fees can be an important issue in moving forward with both a home and commercial-improvement projects.”

Resolution 9990 will, in most cases, create a 44 to 45 percent reduction in development fees for both residential and commercial development and redevelopment projects within McDowell Corridor limits, the March 17 staff report summarizes.

The idea for a redevelopment fee schedule was the result of stakeholder meetings held over the last year, Ms. Chafin explains.

“The property owners said it best: Making things look better will help everyone,” she pointed out.

“The city previously had a similar permit-fee program for the south portion of the Scottsdale, and during the city’s neighborhood outreach meetings, the neighbors suggested bringing it back.”

A top priority

Scottsdale Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp says revitalization of the McDowell Corridor remains a top priority for Scottsdale City Council.

“I believe this is important because the revitalization of the area is a top priority for council at this moment in time,” Councilwoman Klapp said in a March 10 phone interview.

“In general I believe there has been more activity in the area then we have seen in a very long time.”

The McDowell Road corridor has seen an influx of economic activity over the last year including:

  • Construction of Fate Brewing Company is nearing completion at the site of the former Hometown Buffet, 1312 N. Scottsdale Road.
  • Mark Taylor’s San Travesia Apartments is nearing completion and is already leasing at 74th Street and McDowell Road.
  • Diamante townhomes is well under construction at the former Paddock Pools site at 6525 E. Thomas Road.
  • Construction of the McDowell Road bridge widening over the Indian Bend Wash should be completed within a month, featuring wide, protected sidewalks and new bike lanes.
  • The Thomas Road streetscape improvement project will be completed this month, featuring hardscape, bicycle lanes, new sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, new street lighting, new landscaping and irrigation, a traffic signal at Civic Center and Thomas and an art project on the bridge over the Indian Bend Wash.
  • The former Scottsdale Lanes has been remodeled and is now Arizona’s first Bowlmor at 7300 E. Thomas Road.
  • Hertz Auto’s proposal to locate to the vacant auto dealer site at 7300 E. McDowell Road will be considered by the city council April 14.

“I am really encouraged about the amount of people who are asking me about the corridor,” said Councilwoman Klapp.

“And, yes, I think the neighborhood people and business people are feeling the resurgence of the area. For a long time nothing was happening, but just a few businesses can make a difference.”

Dana Close

Dana Close

The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance, a collection of local residents and business owners, has been the champion of the revitalization effort along McDowell since October 2013.

The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, seeks to advance investment and revitalization opportunities in southern Scottsdale and along the McDowell Road Corridor, its mission statement reads.

Dana Close, a founding member of the SGA, says attitudes have shifted since the group’s inception.

“Things are going great,” she said in a March 10 phone interview. “It’s a different world then it was two years ago. We have been seeing a lot of activity.”

Ms. Close says the next few years along McDowell Road are going to be exciting.

“I think it is going to be very, very noticeable within the next five years,” she said of revitalization efforts. “Looking at some of these remodels, it is really exciting out there. I think with all the connectivity and the restaurants coming in we are well on our way onto something very exciting.”

The idea has become reality, Ms. Close contends.

“It is no longer just a concept — this is happening, this is real,” she said. “We are happy to have good things to report.”

That sense of community pride is permeating City Hall, Councilwoman Klapp says.

“There is a lot of pride in the people of the area,” she said. “I think there is a pride in those neighborhoods that is better today then I have seen in years.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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