Adobe and redwood, rusted metal and palo verdes, gravel driveways and beauty in an oasis amid a too-busy city.
The soul of one of the city’s most special places, the historic Cattle Track artists colony, won’t change with plans for expansion.
The Scottsdale Planning Commission today will review the plans for the rural campus in central Scottsdale.
Janie Ellis needs more money to cover property taxes, and does not care to contribute to the presence of another apartment complex by selling the valuable land.
"Everyone thinks we’re nuts for not going for the big bucks, but that’s not what we’re about," said Ellis, whose parents George and Rachel Ellis began building the compound along the Arizona Canal in the 1930s and developed it into a creative enclave a few miles from downtown.
The concept behind Phase Two of the Canal at Cattle Track is to construct 10 more buildings, including more studio spaces along the canal, galleries and a restaurant, totaling about 30,000 square feet. All the new buildings will have the same flavor of existing structures: Wide overhangs, breezeways, recycled materials, railroad tie fencing and native Sonoran Desert plants.
"We want to keep it as much like it is as possible," Ellis said.
City Council approved the changes in 1996. A year later, voters gave the nod in a referendum. Neighborhood support has been strong, but not unanimous.
"We were required by that approval to show we’re maintaining the historic value of the site by the future phases of the plan," said urban designer Steve Voss. "Our job is to show how we’re preserving the site."
Three buildings at Cattle Track are on the National Register of Historic Places. Mags Harries and Lajos Heder, the artists who created Arizona Falls and the Squaw Peak Parkway pots, stay at Cattle Track. American modernist painter Philip Curtis lived at Cattle Track until he died in 2000. Every nook and cranny of the compound hides another painter, sculptor, ceramist, photographer or blacksmith.
The key issue is preserving the land’s character, said Planning Commission chairman David Gulino. "Everything I’ve seen and been told, that’s their intent anyway, so I’m not expecting that to be a real problem," he said. "I think it’s a good case."
An open house is planned at Cattle Track at 105 N. Cattle Track Road Nov. 14-16 during daylight hours.
What: On the Canal at Cattle Track historic artists colony
When: 5 p.m. today
Where: Scottsdale City Hall Kiva, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.
Information: (480) 312-7995