Auto mall on ballfields whiffs in Mesa - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Auto mall on ballfields whiffs in Mesa

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Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 5:58 am | Updated: 3:54 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

West Mesa residents appear to have won the battle to keep an auto mall from taking over a popular softball complex.

The Larry H. Miller Autogroup, based in Salt Lake City, no longer plans to build an auto mall over the Riverview ballfields in northwest Mesa, an attorney for the company said Tuesday.

Neighborhood opposition forced the Miller group to rescind its proposal to develop the 33-acres now occupied by four softball fields, primarily used for the city’s adult leagues.

“I am delighted,” said Marilynn Wennerstrom, a west Mesa resident. “Those people’s selling job in west Mesa was that it wasn’t going to take any of Riverview Park — our Riverview Park.”

The Miller group is planning to build a separate auto mall nearby, which does not appear to be impacted by the decision not to pursue the softball complex. The company already owns land to the north of the ballfields at loops 101 and 202.

“The neighbors don’t want it and Larry Miller wants to sell cars to those folks, so they’re not going to pursue it,’’ said Dave Udall, a zoning attorney who has been working with the Miller group.

A large city-owned recreational complex in the Riverview area has become a hotbed of development proposals this year. And residents are still concerned about a different proposal to build a hotel and water park on an adjacent parcel of land.

Waveyard Development LLC, a Scottsdale-based water park developer, has been talking to the city about purchasing the nine-hole, 125-acre Riverview Golf Course to turn it into a water-themed resort and retail entertainment complex, a city official said.

City officials had said the water park developer might be interested in buying the cityowned softball fields as well.

Councilwoman Claudia Walters, who represents west Mesa, said she heard earlier this week that the auto mall group was no longer going to pursue negotiations with the city.

Walters said that family ties to water park owners prevent her from having any discussions about the golf course. She has said, however, that any developments in the area would need neighborhood support.

“I heard that they are not going to pursue any additional conversations,” she said. “Which is fine with me.”

The fact that the auto mall developer will not be expanding onto the ballfields could have financial implications for Mesa, which is in a deep budget hole. The city had hoped to cash in on its land, which has risen in value substantially.

Land values rose after the completion of the first phase of Mesa Riverview, a large retail project that will be anchored by a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Wal-Mart and a large Cinemark movie complex.

The land sale would not have been Mesa’s only financial windfall; A larger auto mall would be a key source of more sales tax. Many of the city’s auto dealers are scattered around downtown, which is considered a dying business model.

Councilman Rex Griswold said the area should continue to generate interest, despite the Miller group’s decision to end negotiations.

“Property values are going up and a lot of good things are going on out there,” Griswold said.

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