Close: Community input will shape Papago Plaza into a quality project

It has been a long time since the term “consensus building” could be used at Scottsdale City Hall. Technically, too long.

After considering public input before and during the last City Council meeting of 2018, councilmembers came to the unanimous consensus that the public outreach process for the proposed Papago Plaza project had been insufficient. As a result, the developer, with assistance from the city’s staff, will hold two additional open houses for residents to offer their feedback on the project.

Dana Close

This Thursday the first open house will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. at SkySong, 1365 N. Scottsdale Road, in the Synergy Room of Building 3.

This will be our chance to provide our ideas and input on how to make the proposed design worthy of occupying the premiere corner in south Scottsdale.

It’s likely this extended outreach to ensure that residents have the opportunity to provide more input would not have happened if it weren’t for Councilmember Virginia Korte — and also the support of her efforts by Councilwomen Kathy Littlefield and Suzanne Klapp.

The tension leading up to the presentation of the project was palpable. Even those residents who had been organized to speak in support of it conceded that the project, which had already undergone several changes at the request of the city’s staff, still had numerous shortcomings. I got the feeling supporters’ believed that “something was better than nothing,” because letting the empty buildings in the current shopping center continue to be an eyesore is unacceptable.

It wasn’t until Councilmember Korte spoke up that the mood in the Kiva, which was shaping up to be a battleground, turned into an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration.

In her measured and thoughtful style, Councilmember Korte told the audience in the packed Kiva that the southwest corner of McDowell and Scottsdale roads is “iconic,” so the project needs to be “more than just good enough.” She added that south Scottsdale residents deserve the best possible project.

Hearing the direction the discussion was taking, the developer, much to his credit, was not only willing to participate in two additional open houses, his team would also double the radius in which neighbors who live near the project would be notified about the meetings.

After a lengthy discussion and input from the council, including the recommendation by Councilwoman Klapp that a special piece of public art be erected on the corner, the project was approved 7-0. Following the two public outreach sessions, the developer must return with a revised plan to the Design Review Board at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 to the Kiva.

Speaking for myself, my neighbors, and I hope other south Scottsdale residents, are optimistic that with our additional input, the Papago Plaza project will be a quality one which will stand the test of time.

We deserve nothing less.

Editor’s Note: Dana Close is the owner of Close Community Concepts and resident of South Scottsdale.

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