Southbridge 2, the proposed development that could transform downtown Scottsdale along the waterfront, crossed its first hurdle last week when it won unanimous approval from the city Design Review Board.

The project by Carter Unger, is an unofficial extension of the Southbridge development along the Arizona Canal.

The first Southbridge was the brainchild of Unger’s father, the late Fred Unger,  who had a hand in several high profile projects, including revamping the Royal Palms Resort.

The new Southbridge 2 would feature two hotels, retail space, an office building along Scottsdale Road and up to 177 units of multi-family residential housing, according to city documents.

The plan also calls for more than 1,500 parking spaces, including 500 stalls for an office building that could be opened to the public during non-business hours.

Several board members voiced concerns about the developer’s requests for increased height and decreased stepbacks on aspects of the project.

The applicant requested a reduction in stepbacks along Scottsdale Road from the required 40 feet to 20 feet. Councilmember Virginia Korte and Vice Chair Joe Young both expressed concerns that this would affect pedestrians.

The applicant’s architect said the stepbacks would allow the project’s ground-level retailers to better connect with pedestrian walkways since 40-foot stepbacks would make it difficult for stores to connect with pedestrian pass- throughs – a point Korte agreed with.

Height was also a concern. The proposed buildings along the canal have a similar height to existing buildings at the waterfront, though the setbacks are closer to the canal in the new project.

City staff would have to work with the applicant on the stepback issue.

The board also stipulated that the developer would have to split up the massing of the building along the canal and provide pedestrian linkages to the canal – which Unger said he's considering.