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Planning Commission to review parking space rules

  • By Wayne Schutsky, Progress Managing Editor

Following complaints by gallery owners in Scottsdale’s Arts District, the City Planning Commission will review parking requirements for new multifamily developments downtown.

The existing parking code in downtown Scottsdale requires new apartment and condo developments to provide one parking space for every one-bedroom unit and two parking spaces for every unit with two bedrooms or more.

The code does not require developments to provide extra guest parking.

Outside downtown, Scottsdale requires developers to provide 1.25 parking spaces per studio; 1.3 parking spaces per one-bedroom unit; 1.7 parking spaces per two bedroom unit; and 1.9 parking spaces for each unit with three bedrooms or more.

The downtown parking code has long been a sore point for some business owners, especially in the Arts District, who fear new apartments and condo dwellers will cannibalize existing public parking in the area that is currently utilized by their clients.

French Thompson and Bob Pejman, who both own galleries along Main Street in the Arts District, have given public comment on the topic at multiple City Council meetings in recent months.

“We’re going to have density in the downtown; I’m aware this is going to happen…,” Thompson told the Council on June 25. “This is a great place to be and people are going to want to be here, but if you don’t increase the amount of parking required by the developers its going to impact everybody in the future.”

Pejman has called the city’s downtown parking code “deficient” and compared it against California cities, such as Malibu and Laguna Beach, that have guest parking requirements for residential developments.

Thompson and Pejman found themselves an unlikely ally in Planning Commissioner Larry Kush, a former developer, who said “the policy as it now stands lacks common sense.”

“One thing I know for a fact is you have to mandate guest parking,” Kush said.

The parking issue came to head at the most recent Planning Commission meeting on June 26 when the commission was to consider a proposed residential project at First Street and Goldwater Boulevard that would have only 31 parking spaces for its 31 units.

The Planning Commission hearing on the project was postponed until August 14 at the request of the applicant.

Kush said that project is a perfect example of why the code needs to change, because overflow from new residential developments — either from guests or residents with multiple vehicles — is going to eat into existing street parking utilized primarily by businesses.

”No wonder everybody’s upset,” Kush said. “It’s almost like you’re taking a sharp stick and poking it in their eye.”

Kush said he blames the ordinance for causing the issues, not developers who are following the rules laid out by the city.

“He did everything by the book,” Kush said of the developer behind the 31-unit development. “The code only required what he’s giving.”

At the June 26 meeting, Commissioner Christian Serena asked city staff to prepare a presentation for a later date comparing downtown Scottsdale’s parking code to the codes in other similar communities.

Serena said he wanted to look at “how we judge our parking versus how other communities do it, and how we got to this.”

Kush said “we’re requesting that staff post that the Planning Commissions is going to be talking about parking, and we’re going to open it for public comment.”

Kush told the Progress that he would like to see the Planning Commission address parking downtown sooner rather than later so that it can make a recommendation to the City Council before the end of the summer.

Kush’s timeline would fly in the face of the City Council’s plans to discuss the parking issue.

On June 5, Councilman Guy Phillips made a motion, supported by the rest of the Council, to discuss the city’s downtown parking strategy after November — following the upcoming bond election.

“I also said to council that it’s not council’s job to do this,” Kush said. “It’s planning commission’s job to do this and then send to council a plan.”

Kush said he does not believe the council should wait until after November to take up the issue.

“This is an issue that has nothing to do with the bond,” Kush said.

Scottsdale used to different downtown parking guidelines that required developers to provide 1.5 parking spaces per one-bedroom unit and 1.7 spaces per unit with two bedrooms or more.

However, the City Council passed an ordinance change in February 2006 that increased the two-bedroom requirement to two parking spaces per unit with two bedrooms or more and decreased the one bedroom requirement to one parking space per unit.

The goal of the change was to combat the very issue brought up by gallery owners today.

“The proposed changes to the residential parking requirements are designed to ensure that larger downtown residential developments are fully parked on site. This approach will ensure that residential units are not under parked, and will minimize spillover from residential development into surrounding residential or business public parking spaces,” according to a City Council memo from the time. 

At the time, the change was not controversial and was passed 7-0 by Council on the consent agenda.

At the time, the change was not controversial and was passed 7-0 by Council on the consent agenda.


Optima debuts Green-Building design for luxury condos

Optima real estate development firm is underway with its third and fourth luxury residential towers, including 7180 Optima Kierland.

Optima Kierland will be the “most elevated offering within the $500 million, multi-tower enclave” of Optima Kierland Center as the master-planned community embodies the design of architects David Hovey, Sr. FAIA, Optima’s founder/CEO, and David Hovey, Jr. AIA, Optima’s president, who create cutting-edge, nationally recognized residential buildings, according to a press release.

Optima is said to have set a new standard for multifamily green building in Arizona with the recently completed 7120 Optima Kierland and 7180 Optima Kierland set to open in late 2020. Features of 7180 Optima Kierland range from a next-generation vertical landscape system to its park-like setting of six acres of landscaped open space, according to the release.

All parking at Optima Kierland Center is underground to maximize open, green space and reduce the heat island effect, the release added.

“We’ve always been focused on pushing the envelope with each Optima development when it comes to sustainability, design and technology. It’s the right thing to do for 21st Century residential housing,” said David Hovey, Jr., AIA, in a prepared statement.

“We put an emphasis on minimizing hard materials like blacktop, roads and parking lots surrounding our buildings to create more open, lush green space. We have committed ourselves to the Architecture 2030 Challenge, with the mission of being carbon-neutral by the year 2030.”

Optima Kierland Center has been named a pilot project for the city of Phoenix’s newly-adopted International Green Construction Code. A few miles south, Optima Sonoran Village was also chosen as the pilot project for the city of Scottsdale’s IGCC, the release noted.

At all four of its Arizona multifamily residential communities, encompassing nearly 2,500 homes, Optima integrates the environmental benefits into the aesthetics of each building with hanging gardens; acres of rooftop gardens; overhanging bridges and more.

New PulteGroup division president has big growth plans for Arizona 

By Angela Gonzales  – Senior Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

Now that Rebecca Lundberg has been promoted to division president of PulteGroup Inc.’s Arizona operations, she has big plans for growth in Arizona, where she oversees 240 people.

“We’ve spent over $30 million acquiring almost 500 lots in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019,” said Lundberg, who most recently served as vice president of operations for the Atlanta-based homebuilder’s Northern California division.

Of the 23,000 homes PulteGroup (NYSE: PHM) built nationwide in 2018, 1,500 were in Arizona.

“We’ve been really pleased with the success that we’ve seen across the Phoenix area as well as into Tucson,” Lundberg said. “I fully expect to capitalize on that. My goal is to grow at or slightly higher than market growth rates we’re seeing.”

Lundberg said the company has several projects on the drawing board throughout metro Phoenix, including an exclusive community called Palomino Estates that will offer 39 10,000-square-foot gated lots and feature homes ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 square feet in its Lone Mountain community in Cave Creek. Those models are expected to open later this year or early 2020.

Also opening in early 2020 will be Harvest in Queen Creek and Canyon Views in Buckeye, she said.

Plans call for offering 115 lots with homes ranging between 1,600 and 2,800 square feet at Harvest along with 262 lots featuring homes ranging between 1,500 and 3,500 square feet at Canyon Views in Buckeye.

A graduate of University of Arizona who started as a PulteGroup sales consultant in Tucson in 2005, Lundberg said she’s glad to be back in Arizona.

“For me, this is home, both personally and professionally,” Lundberg said. “My husband grew up in Tucson and we have quite a bit of his extended family in that area. Since the ’80s, my family has vacationed in the Phoenix area. It feels like home from that personal perspective.”

She said one of her top goals is to invest in her team.

“They are the key to our success,” she said.