Just over one month after spending $49 million on 73 acres in northern Scottsdale, Axon will bring plans for its new headquarters before the city’s Planning Commission on Oct. 28.
The plans, filed with the city in September just days after Axon won a state land auction, depict a futuristic-style manufacturing and office hub located near the company’s existing headquarters at Hayden and Loop 101.
The property is the latest parcel in the highly-coveted Crossroads East area to be sold at auction by the state after Nationwide purchased 134 acres to build its own regional headquarters and mixed-use development in 2018.
Nationwide’s development includes 1.8-million square feet of office space along with apartments, hotel and retail space.
Unlike Nationwide, Axon’s plans do not call for a larger mixed-use project surrounding its new headquarters.
The project will be used for office and light industrial uses, including research and development and manufacturing and will not include multifamily housing.
Axon, the homegrown taser and body camera manufacturer founded in 1993, is asking the city for a zoning change and height allowances to pave the way for its new headquarters.
The two sides already came to terms on a development deal, approved by City Council in September, in which the city will reimburse Axon up to $9.4 million for infrastructure improvements.
In order to receive the entire reimbursement, Axon must build at least 250,000 square feet of commercial or manufacturing space and have a payroll of $130 million over any continuous 12-month period within five years of the auction.
The company is asking the city rezone the 73-acre property industrial and allow for building heights up to 82 feet – above the 52 feet typically allowed under industrial zoning.
Axon’s application outlined steps it will take to lessen the impact on surrounding areas and states that Loop 101 will act as a buffer between the site and homes to the north.
“Axon has designed an appropriately scaled building with a unique design that is oriented closer to the Loop 101 adjacent portion of the site with the remainder of the site as open space pending future phases,” the application states.
The Axon site is located across Mayo Boulevard from some residential uses but plans indicated the company will use landscaping and parking lots as buffers between the neighborhood and buildings.
Some have questioned how the company’s unique building design will be received by Scottsdale with its stringent design guidelines.
The plans, which include a five-story main building surrounded by smaller buildings, call for a design that “pays homage to the science fiction roots of the company’s founding and features a spaceship-like building façade with futuristic contemporary designs.”
Initial sketches show gray buildings banded in the company’s bright “Axon yellow” color and the development agreement suggested it could feature a 40-foot logo signs and illuminated lighting system.
“Axon may submit plans providing lighting on the building to include an illuminated Wave Motion feature…that may feature projection or mapping of images for changing lights and a swirling motion,” the agreement states.
The Axon zoning application noted that the yellow banding will be an accent not the main color on the buildings and that landscaping will include native plants and color palettes.
Council candidate Tom Durham questioned whether the design fit in Scottsdale.
“It’s going to look like a spaceship, and it’s going to have a really prominent space, because it’s going to be right there on the inside corner of (Loop 101),” Durham said.
An Axon spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the proposed headquarters design.
But documents filed with the city indicated Axon worked closely with the city prior to submitting its zoning application and spending $49 million to purchase the parcel, suggesting it is confident it will not run into the same issues in Scottsdale.
“Axon and the City have worked together to facilitate the proposed development of Axon’s campus expansion on the subject site,” the zoning application states.
At a recent forum, City Councilman Guy Phillips, who is running for re-election, said he supported the project because the economic benefits outweigh any potential design concerns.
Stating “the public benefit far outweighs the aesthetic look of what they wanted,” Phillips cited city projections that the new headquarters will have an $8-billion economic impact over the next decade.
That impact was cited by several councilmembers on Aug. 25 when the City Council unanimously approved the development agreement and incentive package with Axon.
Councilwoman Linda Milhaven called it “a watershed moment for Scottsdale.”
“I think this... raises our profile,” Milhaven said. “I think it improves our brand and our reputation.”
If that enthusiasm is any indication, the project will likely see little resistance when it reaches the City Council.
Barring any delays, the Council is scheduled to consider Axon’s rezoning request on Nov. 10.