Developer seeks taller Galleria office building

Stockdale Partners is asking the City of Scottsdale to amend zoning for the proposed Marquee office building project next door to the Galleria Corporate Centre to allow for heights up to 150 feet.

Longstanding plans to build a new office building next to the Galleria Corporate Centre are set to go back before the City Council as the property owner seeks to add additional height to the proposed project.

The building, dubbed Marquee by property owner Stockdale Capital Partners, would sit on land just north of the Galleria.

Marquee first went before the City Council in May 2016 and subsuqently received zoning and development plan approval for a 96-foot, 9-floor office building with some ground-level retail and restaurant space.

Stockdale, which also owns the neighboring Galleria Corporate Centre and nearby W Hotel, is now seeking approval to increase the height of Marquee to 150 feet to accommodate two additional floors.

Jason Morris, a zoning attorney with Withey Morris who represents the developer, said the new request was prompted by changes to Scottsdale’s Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan.

“Really what occurred is prior to our original zoning case there was a downtown plan in place that limited height,” Morris said. “But subsuquent to our zoning case getting approved, the city did an update to the downtown plan that increased the zoning heights allowable in those areas.”

The Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan, adopted by the city in July 2018, allows for heights up to 150 feet in select areas throughout downtown designated Type 3. The Marquee site is located within one of these areas.

Stockdale is asking the city to update the zoning for the Marquee site from Type 2, which allows for heights up to 90 feet under the new plan, to the new Type 3 designation.

With Marquee, Stockdale is attempting to take advantage of the success of the Galleria, a former defunct shopping mall that was successfully transformed into an office building.

The Galleria is now home to a number of tech companies, including Yelp and Indeed and recently hosted Governor Doug Ducey at the ribbon cutting for an office expansion by online home-buying marketplace Zillow.

“I think you’ve seen the success of the Galleria, which is probably one of the most successful reuse examples in the country,” Morris said. “The city has helped this transform from an albatross into something that’s an economic generator for the City of Scottsdale.

The new Marquee building could provide space for those existing tenants to expand, Morris said.

The Marquee will be a Class-A office building and include 250,000 square feet of office space split into large floor plates designed to attract the same types of tenants coming to the Galleria.

The new building will not have physical connections to the Galleria building, though, due to fire code restrictions.

However, the new application does include some modifications to the Galleria to better integrate the two buildings.

That includes adding an additional entrance and exit to the Galleria along Scottsdale Road.

If Marquee is as successful as Stockdale anticipates, that will mean an influx of workers into downtown — a development that will likely concern local business owners who have long complained about a lack of parking downtown.

Morris was adamant that the new Marquee will have enough parking to meet its needs.

“It’s an issue not only to the surrounding business owners and the retailers who want to make sure that the street parking is protected, but it’s also just as important to (Stockdale), because unless they can guarantee a good parking ratio, no one is going to pay the price for leased office space in a Class A building in downtown Scottsdale,” Morris said.

He said the Galleria added two additional levels of parking in recent years and that the new Marquee building will include multiple levels of above-ground parking integrated within the building itself.

The new project application submitted to the city indicates floors four to seven would include parking that is completely enclosed within the building and hidden from street view.

The application states there will be 934 parking spots, which is greater than the 906 spots required by the city.

“We have to have that parking,” Morris said.

It is unclear exactly when Stockdale plans to begin work on Marquee, but available information suggests it will be sooner rather than later.

The updated Marquee zoning case was approved by the city’s Development Review Board on June 20 and will reach the Planning Commission on July 10.

It is scheduled to go before the City Council on August 27.

Though the project has already been approved by the City Council once before, it could still face opposition.

A number of residents submitted comments to the city both for and against the project ahead of the 2016 zoning case.

Several supporters praised the project for its ability to attract more high-end businesses to downtown.

“I love the design of this building and think it would be a great addition to the area,” Scottsdale resident Brianne Brown wrote to the city in 2015. “Old Town Scottsdale has flourished over the past couple of years and I feel that this building will continue to bring the right kind of commerce and interest to the area…”

Still others expressed concerns over the building's mass and the effect it would have on parking in the area.

The Coalition of Greater Scottsdale wrote a letter to the city articulating a number of those concerns, including that the building is too massive for the site’s square footage and that it would further cannibalized scarce street parking in the area.

The last time around, the zoning changes were approved on a 4-3 vote.

Two of the three dissenting votes were cast by current Councilmembers Kathy Littlefield and Guy Phillips. The third no vote came from former Councilman David Smith.

During the last election, Councilwoman Solange Whitehead, who replaced Smith, expressed views on new development that aligned with Littlefield’s and seemed to sympathize with citizen concerns about height and density.

Official minutes from that Council meeting indicated parking was one concern for some Councilmembers.