Most council members oppose height exemption - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Most council members oppose height exemption

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Posted: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 11:48 am

Scottsdale City Council members were not enthused upon learning Tuesday of requests for height exemptions and millions in city money for the One Scottsdale project.

Several of the six council members interviewed by the Tribune said they were disappointed with the requests, while others preferred to adopt a wait-and-see approach.

Council members Bob Littlefield and Betty Drake were among those who reacted negatively to the proposals.

“I don’t like it at all. I don’t like giving height variances because part of the charm of this place is that we don’t have a lot of tall buildings,” Littlefield said.

Of a request by developer One Scottsdale Holdings — an affiliate of DMB Associates — that the city provide $50 million for infrastructure to serve One Scottsdale, he said, “I don’t think we need to be paying people to do business in Scottsdale.”

Drake said if the city allows taller buildings on the north side of Loop 101 at One Scottsdale, the view of the mountains from the freeway would be impeded.

“That’s an important view coming into town,” she said. “The view corridor, I think, is sacred along those parts.”

Councilman Jim Lane said it would be difficult to turn down other developers who ask for city money or building height exemptions if the council granted DMB’s requests.

“It’s a fairness issue more than anything else,” he said. “It becomes a bit arbitrary when you’re making an assessment of these things, why they should get it and somebody else might not.”

Councilman Ron McCullagh could not be reached for comment.

Tony Nelssen, Wayne Ecton and Mayor Mary Manross said they would remain on the fence until a cost/benefit analysis can be done.

“The council is going to have to look at this submittal and have a public discussion about the financing mechanism,” Manross said.

“We’ll look at it, we’ll analyze it, and weigh it against the value of the project.”

Nelssen said DMB gave him assurances when he was on the Scottsdale Planning Commission several years ago that buildings at One Scottsdale would not exceed 60 feet.

“That all has to be weighed into it. The bottom line is, what is the impact of the additional height?” Nelssen said.

Ecton said he first wants to know how the taller buildings would look from surrounding areas.

“If something doesn’t do mortal damage to a neighborhood or environment, I would tend to support it,” he said.

Who is behind One Scottsdale?

Scottsdale-based DMB Associates, a real estate investment company and developer. DMB has developed such projects as DC Ranch, Silverleaf and Verrado. The developers assembled a team of architecture and design firms that work locally, nationally and internationally, including Field Paoli, DFD Cornoyer Hedrick, Dale Gardon Design, Will Bruder Architects, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Langdon Wilson, three and BAR Architects.

What’s next?

The developers filed a request with the city to allow taller buildings, from a maximum height of 60 feet to several buildings reaching 89 feet. The company also wants Scottsdale to contribute $50 million in infrastructure costs. That would be repaid through a sales tax generated at the site. No meetings have been scheduled, but the company wants to break ground on the site in March and open in 2009.

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