The Mesa City Council approved zoning Monday for the huge Riverview at Dobson retail/office complex, just after developers produced a top executive from Bass Pro Shops, its prized top anchor.
The council voted 6-0 to approve rezoning for the 250-acre project.
Mayor Keno Hawker abstained from voting on the four zoning cases and minor general plan amendment because his house borders the property at Dobson Road and Loop 202, triggering conflict-of-interest laws.
But three other neighbors voiced support for the project and none opposed it at the hearing.
Resident John Wright said the project was exciting for west Mesa residents who shot down a Cardinals stadium proposed for the same site two years earlier.
He said its anchor would be a particular draw.
"Bass Pro Shops is the coup of coups for this area," he said.
Attorney David Udall, representing the Hurley family, owners of the property, told the council the developers have a signed letter of intent from Bass Pro Shops, working to quell speculation about the Missouri-based corporation’s commitment to the 33 acres set aside for it at Riverview.
Letters of intent generally set down the terms for an eventual lease.
The developers did not provide a copy of the letter at the meeting.
Bass Pro Shops president of real estate Mike Dunham would not say when one of the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores might appear.
"There’s still a lot of components that need to be worked out before we get to a specific timetable," he said.
Riverview is the subject of a $42 million incentive package expected to come up for a council vote Nov. 15.
These incentives were the subject of an attempted voter referendum, which was withdrawn after attorneys for both the city and opponents decided there was nothing to put on the ballot before the council had an agreement.
Councilman Tom Rawles, the only member who voted against opening negotiations for the package of sales-tax rebates, infrastructure upgrades and waived fees, said he favored the zoning, but "I haven’t seen the development agreement, and I don’t know how I will come down on the development agreement."
The first phase of Riverview will be an entertainment district with a 16-screen Cinemark theater at the end of a walkway lined with 11 restaurants and shops.
Riverview’s zoning also has 96 acres of retail at the northeast corner of Eighth Street and Dobson, 48 acres of employment uses on Alma School Road south of Loop 202 and a 33-acre auto park.
In addition, the council voted 6-0 to approve four freeway signs up to 70 feet tall requested by the Riverview developers, the second use permit approved since guidelines for the signs were adopted earlier this year.
The first, for a 99-foot sign to be built for the planned Superstition Springs Auto Loop at Sossaman Road and U.S. 60, passed earlier in Monday’s meeting on a 5-2 vote.
Hawker and Vice Mayor Claudia Walters voted against it.