Greenbelt 88 project

The developer of the proposed Greenbelt 88 project has offered to reduce the number of apartment units, but the proposed plan would still far exceed the 4-units-per-acre maximum allowed by the current zoning.

The fate of the controversial Greenbelt 88 mixed use development near the intersection of Hayden and Osborn roads will remain undecided until after the new year. 

The Scottsdale City Council voted Nov. 16 to grant the developer’s request to postpone the vote on its rezoning request until Feb. 8. 

The continuance request was made in order to further reduce the number of apartments in the project and remove a section of the fourth floor, said George A. Pasquel, an attorney representing property owner Todd Silver.

The project currently calls for 278 apartments in a four-story building along with 25,000 square feet of retail space where the aging Lucky Plaza shopping center currently is located in the 3300 block of North Hayden Road. 

But Councilwoman Solange Whitehead noted that plan does not look like it would gain Council’s approval.

“If this project had the support of the City Council, you would not be requesting an extension,” she said.

Jan Vuicich, founder of the “Protect Scottsdale” grassroots organization opposing the project, said the developer proposed last month to reduce the number of apartments to 250 units and remove a section of the fourth floor facing the Greenbelt. 

That would reduce the density of apartments on the seven-acre site from over 39 units per acre to 35, but that is still considerably higher than the 4 units per acre that the site is currently zoned for. 

Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield cast the lone vote against the continuance, stating the developer has had enough time to make necessary changes.

“Requesting one more month, or two more months or three more months for a new design and insight from the community does not leave me hopeful,” she said.

Vuicich said she is frustrated with the continuance. The project has been hanging over neighbors heads for over a year and she’s ready to be done with it. 

“September 2020 is when (the developer) had their first open house,” she said. 

Littlefield stated she is not going to vote for the project even with the changes. 

“The project is too tall, it’s too dense, it offers too little retail and generates too much traffic,” she said. “None of that has changed. It’s out of character with the area and the whole idea of the greenbelt itself, which is openness to the neighbors and the neighborhoods who paid for it.”

She stated the project is exactly the type of project residents were voting against when they passed the General Plan 2035 earlier this month. 

“In the recent campaign for the GP 2035, proponents of this plan made the claim that approving it would make it harder to approve these kinds of projects,” Littlefield said. “I believe the new plan will have the opposite effect and will actually promote more bad projects, especially in South Scottsdale. If the proponents of GP 2035 want to prove me wrong, they should vote to deny this continuance and vote to disapprove this project, which is not wanted by the overwhelming majority of the nearby neighbors.” 

Vuicich’s group has garnered over 870 on an online petition opposing the plan. 

The fact that the petition was online and not taken door-to-door surprised Whitehead, who said it should be vetted to insure the signatures are actually from area residents. 

“You can make an online petition say whatever you want,” Whitehead said. 

Vuicich said she only promoted the petition in South Scottsdale, however, and is confident the majority of signatures are from area residents. 

The project has split the community, pitting neighbor against neighbor.  

Alex McLaren, whose home faces the site of the proposed project, said he initially opposed it but changed his mind when he learned the developer proposed removing a portion of the fourth floor.

“That is a lot more palatable to me,” McLaren said. “It’s just not as dominant as a full four stories.”

Mayor David Ortega also said he would not vote for the project in its current state. He encouraged the developer to make whatever changes they deem necessary and take the project back to the city’s planning commission.

The planning commission voted 4-3 in August to recommend the city council approve the rezone.

Commission Chair Renee Higgs, Vice Chair Joe Young, and commissioners William Scarbrough and George Ertel voted to recommend approval.

 “This is going to be a great project that I think is going to improve property values in the area,” Young said at the time.

Commissioners Christian Serena, Barry Graham and Barney Gonzales voted against the rezone.

“I don’t think it fits the personality of the area,” Gonzales said.