Larsen: The merits of two Old Town Scottsdale development proposals

As a longtime Scottsdale resident and Old Town business owner, I feel compelled to add a voice to the discussion of the inevitable development in the underutilized areas in the southern area of Old Town Scottsdale.

Scott Larsen

The discussion should not be whether you are for or against the inevitable development. The discussion should be about ensuring and demanding well designed projects that take into consideration public benefit, density, location, traffic impact and parking.

The discussion should be about ensuring that the City Council and Planning Commission opposes projects that simply want to build 80’–150’ buildings on small parcels of land.

As an example, let’s compare the proposed Museum Square project and the proposed apartment complex at Bishop Lane and Second Street.

The Larsen Gallery has specialized in consigning fine art for sale for more than 25 years as well as host of the annual Larsen Art Auction. The Larsen Gallery is located on Bishop Lane at the southern edge of Old Town Scottsdale very near both proposed projects.

We were early endorsers of the Museum Square project and remain so today. We believe it is a well designed project that successfully addresses many of the aforementioned elements.

We are opposed to the proposed apartment complex at Bishop Lane and Second Street as we believe it does not address these elements. A comparison of both projects are listed below:

•Density – The Museum Square project is proposing +300 residential units on over 7 acres of land. The Bishop Lane and Second Street development is proposing +200 residential units on +1.5 acres of land.

•Building Height – While building heights are a concern, where they are being proposed is of even bigger concern. The Museum Square largest residence buildings are facing Goldwater Boulevard and back the parking lot of the Scottsdale Artists School. The Bishop Lane and Second Street development proposed eight story apartment complex is lot line to lot line and will dwarf the directly adjacent properties that include private residences and long standing businesses.

•Traffic Flow Design – The Museum Square design includes underground parking structures accessed from major thoroughfares to assist in traffic flow. The Bishop Lane and Second Street development includes an underground parking structure accessed from Bishop Lane, a small street with only four car lengths to the Second Street stop sign, which is the only access to Scottsdale Road.

•Public Benefit – The Museum Square project includes public park spaces and improvements to the Museum of the West and the Stagebrush Theater. The Museum Square project also includes hotel projects, which will result in out of state visitors directly benefiting the Arts District. The residential development on Bishop Lane and Second Street offers no public or Arts District benefits.

•Parking – The big question of adequate parking for residents and guests still remain and should be seriously addressed by all parties during the upcoming public meetings and planning sessions.

The bottom line is that the inevitable development in Old Town Scottsdale should be about quality, not quantity and should take into consideration the existing residents, business and property owners that have been a part of Old Town Scottsdale for many years.

Editor’s Note: Scott Larsen is owner of Larsen Art Gallery and a Scottsdale resident.

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