While most major redevelopment talk in Scottsdale has centered on the city’s downtown in recent months, a regional apartment developer has plans for a significant new bike-friendly mixed-use residential project east of downtown along the Indian Bend Wash.
The project, located along the wash near Camelback and Hayden Roads, is named Gentry on the Green after the late Scottsdale Councilwoman Billie Axline Gentry, who was a driving force behind the creation of the Indian Bend Wash greenbelt.
Gentry on the Green would include residential, retail and public space and seek to activate the greenbelt in an area that is currently walled off and in lackluster condition.
“The existing property turns its back on the Indian Bend Wash,” said architect Mike Edwards. “It kinda turns its back on the neighbors, on the citizens, and it’s not open to the public.”
The new project would remove the existing wall between the property and the wash and create community gathering spaces on the property edge.
John Berry, zoning attorney for the project, said the developer is working with the city to develop a plan to beautify the city land in the area, which currently features weeds and overgrown grass.
“We’re going to figure it out, but it’s in our best interest to ensure that it looks good,” Berry said.
The proposed Gentry on the Green site totals 41.5 acres between the Greenbelt to the east and Parkway Avenue to the west along Camelback Road. The site is currently home to several aging apartment complexes built in the 1970s, including The Glen at Old Town, Visctoni at Camelback and The Cortesian Apartments.
The properties are already owned by various LLCs connected to ColRich, a San Diego-based residential and multifamily developer, according to records on file with the Maricopa County Assessor and state Corporation Commission.
According to site plans submitted to the city, the first phase of the project would be located on 26.5 acres between the greenbelt and 78th Street and include 1,241 residential units and between 43,800 and 67,800 square feet of retail and other non-residential uses, including a coffee shop, public gathering space and bike-related retail.
The apartment buildings will top out at four stories tall and lower to two and three stories along 78th Street, said John Berry, the project’s zoning attorney.
According to site plans, phase one would also include onsite parking that meets or exceeds parking requirements set by the city.
Berry said there are no firm plans for phase two, but the application states it could include office, retail, hotel, residential health care and residential units, according to the application.
Though no timeline is set for the project, the earliest site work would begin on phase one is 2021, said Susan Bitter Smith, who conducted community outreach for the developer.
Phase two would likely not begin for 10 years, Berry said.
The developer is seeking to rezone the property to allow for the mixed-use project. Under current residential zoning on the site, it can only house multifamily residential, such as apartments or condos.
This would not allow for the other retail and non-residential uses the developer plans for the project.
The City Council will also have to approve a major general plan amendment for the site in order for the project to move forward under rules set forth by the city’s 2001 General Plan.
Both the site’s size and proposed change in use triggered the need for the major amendment.
The City’s 2001 General Plan states that a major amendment is required if a site is changing from an urban neighborhood designation to a commercial, office or mixed use.
The General Plan also requires a major amendment for changes in land use on sites in downtown Scottsdale that are 10 acres or larger.
The developer plans to use the project to activate the adjacent section of the greenbelt and take advantage of the city’s plans to become a hub for bicycle tourism, said Jason Rose, a spokesperson for the project.
Rose said the Indian Bend wash in this area is currently underutilized as a venue for pedestrians and cyclists.
“This seeks to change that and capitalize on that existing infrastructure and create a whole new category of bicycle tourism in addition to being a kind of the first bike-centric community that we’re aware of in the Valley,” Rose said.
The project will include an open-air event pavilion near the wash that could house bike-related vendors.
The project will also feature a paseo that can connect the wash to the edge of the property near downtown Scottsdale.
The project could also include a splash pad or water feature, outdoor gathering spaces, coffee shop and retail.
With the exception of the community’s two pools, the rest of the property – which will not be walled off like the existing apartments – will be open to the public.
The total public space in the development is 115,000 square feet, nearly double the 64,000 square feet at the Scottsdale Waterfront.
Berry said he envisioned similar uses for the space, such as concerts and other outdoor gatherings.
Because of the size of the development, the project has the potential to displace hundreds of current residents if and when construction begins.
The development team said it has performed public outreach over the past 10 months, including going door-to-door in affected communities and holding open houses and has received substantial support for the new project.
“Existing tenants that are there are excited about new potential rentals,” said Bitter Smith, who conducted outreach for the project. “A lot of them only have a year there. They’re short term rentals and their lease rates are about a year.”
One existing tenant, Kellie Fox, has mixed feelings about Gentry on the Green.
She said she appreciates that the project does not have massive heights like new developments in downtown Scottsdale but is concerned about the uncertainty the proposed project brings to her living situation.
Fox, who was not able to attend meetings with the development team due to conflicts with her work schedule, said she has had a hard time getting solid timeline information for the project from the apartment’s management.
Fox works downtown and said she enjoys the convenience and affordability of the current apartment community.
“It’s so close to everything and I can walk to work,” Fox said.
Fox said if her current community closes there are few similar affordable options in the area.
Bitter Smith said there are nine long term tenants, one whom has lived on site for 15 years.
Bitter Smith said she met with all nine of those tenants, and that the developer has created a phased development plan that could allow them to remain living on-site as construction progresses by relocating to units not under construction.
The zoning and major general plan amendment case for Gentry on the Green will go before the Scottsdale Planning Commission on Oct. 23 and before the City Council on Dec. 3.