(Special to the Progress)

JLB Partners plans to build a new mixed-use development on the site of the Chapman Scottsdale Autoplex car dealership. Called The McDowell, the development will feature 7,000 square feet of flex office space and 358 residential apartment units.

Weeks after the City Council approved redevelopment plans at Papago Plaza, another developer is seeking approval for a major mixed-use development along McDowell Road in Scottsdale.

JLB Partners, a national multifamily developer with an office in Scottsdale, plans to redevelop the current Chapman Scottsdale Autoplex car dealership at McDowell Road and 66th Street to make room for The McDowell, a mid-century modern styled high-end apartment complex with some “flex office” space, according to plans filed with the city.

Flex office refers to the shared co-working space concepts that have become popular in Scottsdale and around the country in recent years in which freelancers, self-employed individuals and small businesses can rent office space in a shared environment for a fraction of the cost of renting a traditional office.

Brooklyn-based Industrious is opening a co-working space at Scottsdale Fashion Square this month and The Emerald, a co-working space for women, opened at 64th Street and Thomas Road in November 2018.

The McDowell will feature 7,000 square feet of flex office space on the ground level of a three-story building along McDowell Road. The building will also include multifamily residential space.  

The developer does not yet have an operator to run the flex office space.

“We didn’t want to put the cart before the horse,” zoning attorney John Berry said, noting they wanted City Council approval before proceeding further.

The McDowell will include a public pocket park along the Crosscut Canal with ramadas, grass, open space and seating.

Berry, who represents the developer, likened the project to the Scottsdale Waterfront and Southbridge projects that transformed the Arizona Canal in downtown Scottsdale into walkable public space.

“Revitalization in this area has been top priority for 10 years or longer for the city, and this is key component of that,” Berry said. “Think of the Waterfront, where development used to turn back its back on the canal. It took visionaries and pioneers to come along and say ‘lets embrace it.’”

Overall, the complex will include 358 units and 425,130 square feet of residential space spread between the building along McDowell Road and a four-story building located centrally on the property.

The plan has already received recommendations for approval from the city’s Design Review Board and Planning Commission.

City Council on Jan. 15 will consider zoning amendments sought by the developer.

JLB Partners is requesting a change from the current commercial zoning that the car dealership operates under to a planned unit development. The developer is also seeking minor stepback and landscaping amendments to the zoning.

Notably, the development does not contain any retail. The amount of retail space at the Papago Plaza redevelopment was a sticking point for local residents who thought there should be more.

Papago Plaza is a historic retail destination in Scottsdale located on what several City Councilmembers characterized as the premier street corner in the city.

Berry pointed out that the McDowell site is home to a car dealership that, like many others that used to call the area home, is moving to another location – in this case Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community land near the Loop 101.

He also said the site is not well-positioned for retail because it is not located at a major intersection.

Resident Greg Ohlinger attended the zoning meeting on the project in December and expressed concerns about the proposed height of the buildings and the proximity to his home.

The proposed height of 58 feet is the maximum height allowed under the zoning requested by the developer. The property’s current C-3 zoning allows a maximum height of 36 feet.

With the planned pocket park, the McDowell will provide 129 percent of the open space required by the city under the planned unit development zoning the developer is seeking.

“(JLB Partners Development Partner) Kevin Ransil believes strongly in not just doing the minimum to get by,” Berry said. “He believes in doing best thing to enhance the community and doing more than what is required with things like the pocket park and open space.”

Ransil and JLB Partners received a Spirit of Scottsdale Award from Scottsdale’s Neighborhood Advisory Commission in 2018 for The Carter, an apartment complex located on Scottsdale Road south of Osborn Road. In awarding The Carter, the Commission cited the complex’s unique architecture.

The developer will also pay to underground overhead utility lines on the site and clean up the alley it shares with neighborhoods, including providing new lighting.