The Galleria Corporate Centre has long been a lightning rod in the downtown Scottsdale parking debate after a 2015 study concluded the one-time shopping mall turned office building was woefully under-parked.
The 2015 study – which found the Galleria was under-parked by 1,981 spaces at the time – validated local business owner concerns that overflow parking from employees at the Galleria was eating into public spaces in the area.
Representatives for the Galleria have argued the conclusions of the 2015 study are not valid following the departure of high-density tenant McKesson and the addition of two levels to the building’s parking garage.
However, emails between the City of Scottsdale and Galleria owner Stockdale Capital Partners in September suggest current tenants are already using off-site public parking and the property owner is actively courting tenants that would over-tax the existing on-site parking based on its own estimations.
The emails call into a question a narrative long pushed by the property owner.
“When we bought the Galleria, McKesson was here and they were overparking, so they were causing a problem. Ultimately, they left because they didn’t belong in a downtown,” Galleria owner Shawn Yari said. “So that need was gone and we added two levels of parking on the Galleria restructure, so actually this asset today is perfectly amply parked as an asset.”
The argument is similar to one made by Jason Morris, a zoning attorney who represented the Marquee office building, another Stockdale project functioning as an extension of the Galleria.
City council approved the Marquee in August.
Morris told the city’s Planning Commission in July the Marquee, which is parked at the same ratio as the Galleria, exceeded the city’s requirements and called the Galleria outdated.
“There has been a significant change to the uses at the Galleria” since 2015, Morris said.
At the time, Planning Commissioner Christian Serena pushed back on Morris’ argument, citing a projection in the study the Galleria would remain underparked even with the garage expansion in place.
Recent emails from a Stockdale executive to the city call the company’s claims into question.
On Sept. 9, Stockdale Management President Barry Bartle emailed Right of Way Supervisor Walt Brodzinski requesting use of public parking spaces for a prospective new tenant.
“We have a new prospect at Galleria looking to lease a significant amount of our current vacancy. Parking is a key issue for them, and to accommodate this tenant we would have to initiate the shuttle service we provided during the construction to our garage,” Bartle wrote.
Stockdale’s shuttle plan is similar to the deal in place during construction of the Galleria parking garage expansion, according to the emails.
In a draft response to Bartle’s request sent to upper-level city staff, Brodzinski wrote the city could offer 175 spaces on the roof of the Civic Center Library garage “for a short term, but this would not be sustainable for the long term. What is the proposed solution to accommodate this new tenant and other overflow?”
It is unknown if Brodzinski ever sent the message to Bartle.
Brodzinski later wrote to Public Works Executive Director Dan Worth that Galleria had no reserved Civic Center garage spaces. The agreement allowed parking on a first-come, first-served basis, stating “during events/spring training it may not be available.”
Bartle’s message also indicated Yelp, one of Galleria’s premier existing tenants, is already using city public spaces and shuttling employees to the Galleria.
“I know currently, YELP has a shuttle to this garage, but our service would be for all Galleria tenants,” Bartle wrote.
Worth said the city has no official agreement in place with Yelp or any other company but businesses are free to utilize public spaces as they are available.
“Yelp or any other employer would not need an agreement with the city to do this,’ Worth said. “They are simply using public parking just as anyone else is able to do, for parking.”
Worth said the city supports Yelp’s current plan.
“In fact, to the extent this practice helps alleviate shortages of daytime parking in the area around the Galleria, we think it’s a great idea,” Worth said.
Bartle told the Progress the prospective tenant had higher-than-normal parking needs but ultimately chose not to locate at the Galleria and the building is currently adequately parked.
“Our inquiry to the city was an exploration of parking availability to help meet an above standard tenant parking demand,” Bartle said. “This deal never came to fruition for us, and the tenant has chosen another property with an abundance of available parking.”
“The Galleria has sufficient parking for its tenants and for new tenants with typical office parking requirements that will occupy current vacancies,” Bartle said.
Bartle did not address why Yelp is shuttling employees to an off-site public parking garage if the Galleria is adequately parked.
Yelp Senior Director Thomas MacMaster did not respond to a request for comment.
Bartle was non-committal when asked if Stockdale had plans to further expand the Galleria’s on-site parking in the event another large tenant required additional spaces.
“Every tenant prospect is unique in their needs and priorities, including parking,” Bartle said. “Should another highly sought-after tenant with above standard parking requirements consider leasing in our building, then we would gain a clear understanding of their specific needs and consider all options available to meet them.”