Ritz-Carlton plan will create the crown jewel of Paradise Valley

I’d like to start by thanking the many Paradise Valley residents who have been so supportive over the years of our efforts to build a new Ritz-Carlton resort on our property at Lincoln and Mockingbird Drive.

Jerry Ayoub

Jerry Ayoub

It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since we first began work on what has always promised to be a crown jewel for Paradise Valley. Of course, the economic downturn that took place right after voters approved the project was a disappointing setback for everyone involved.

But we have been patient, and we have never given up on the vision of making a Ritz-Carlton a reality. And over the past few years, I’ve been asked more times than I can count when we could expect the Ritz-Carl-ton project to come back to life.

That time is now.

On Thursday, March 12, Five Star Development filed a pre-application to modify our Special Use Permit for the Ritz-Carlton property. It’s the first step in the public process that will, at long last, bring this exciting amenity to life in Paradise Valley.

At the center of our proposal is, of course, the new Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley Resort, which will include 200 suites and bungalows along with 80 resort villas. It will be one of the finest resorts ever constructed in the southwest and a tremendous amenity for the town.

The resort will be located in the center of the project, with an elevated lobby that will not only enjoy sweeping views of Camelback and Mummy Mountain, but also will become an iconic architectural feature in the Town without impacting views of the mountains to the east. The resort will feature all the amenities you would expect from the Ritz-Carlton, including exceptional fine dining, inviting open spaces and landscaping throughout, a world-class spa and many other exciting features.

Surrounding the resort will be Ritz-branded, single-family residences of exceptional quality, the kind of residences that will fit with the character of the community and create an incredible living opportunity for those who call them home while enhancing nearby property values.

And there’s more. A new pedestrian system that connects Mockingbird and Lincoln to Scottsdale. Open space that can be enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. Signifi-cant setbacks and exceptional landscaping along Lincoln, Mockingbird and Indian Bend Road. And the opportunity for Paradise Valley residents to enjoy substantial new revenue streams that will improve the quality of life in the community.

In fact, the enhanced plan we have proposed is actually quite similar to what the Town Council and voters overwhelmingly approved in 2008.

The 2008 plan included a 225-room resort with 161 residential lots and extensive open space on the 105-acre property, with a total of 1.1 million square feet of new construction.

The 2015 plan will be built in two phases. The first portion, including the resort and residences, will be built on 82 acres, with a 280-room resort, 157 residential lots and 1.08 million square feet of new construction.

The remaining 23 acres of the property, which are concentrated along the Paradise Valley-Scottsdale border, will be future-phase development. This portion of the project will be designed to buffer the hotel and residences from the newer, taller development built directly adjacent to the property in Scottsdale.

Some may ask, why do we need to change the plan at all? Why can’t we build what was approved in 2008?

First, while the economy and the real estate market have improved since the downturn, the market has not fully recovered, with property values still lagging 20 to 25 percent below 2008 levels. This means the economics of the 2008 proposal are no longer viable.

Second, new developments in Scottsdale directly adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton property have reached 48 feet in height. We can’t put single-family homes or resort amenities such as those proposed in 2008 next to such tall buildings — it just doesn’t work. We have to create a buffer between those tall buildings in Scottsdale and the Ritz-Carlton Resort and residences.

Third, the real estate market has simply changed since 2008. More residents — both in Paradise Valley and beyond — are seeking the kind of resort-style residential living found at other properties in Paradise Valley.

All of these factors create not just challenges, but opportunities to enhance the vision that residents overwhelmingly supported in 2008 — a Ritz-Carlton Resort and community that will finally become a crown jewel for Paradise Valley.

We are excited to take this first step toward making the vision a reality at long last, and look forward to working with the Town of Paradise Valley and its residents to create a project that will make everyone in the community proud.

Editor’s note: Mr. Ayoub is president and CEO of Five Star Development.

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