One down and one to go.
While one of two apartment complexes planned near Ahwatukee’s eastern border, has cleared its last big government hurdle, another will have to wait until May.
With nary a word, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to convert the Four Points by Sheraton Phoenix South Mountain hotel into a hi-rise apartment building and add adjacent buildings for a 184 to 188-unit complex on 7.8 acres at 51st Street and Elliot Road.
But Phoenix City Council has delayed until May 3 consideration of rezoning request that would allow for a 417-unit complex that would replace a two-building office complex on 50th Street near Thistle Landing Drive between Ray Road and Chandler Boulevard.
No reason was given for council’s delay on the project, which already has the unanimous approval of the city Planning Commission and majority approval of the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee.
How soon Scottsdale-based Caliber Development Company will begin conversion of the Sheraton site is unknown.
Asked about its timeline for construction, Caliber Senior Vice President Kelly McAndrew told AFN last week, “At this time, we don’t have any update to share with you.”
Caliber’s project is located on a so-called county island in Ahwatukee, meaning the Board of Supervisors had final say on its request for rezoning of the Sheraton site to a planned unit development.
That request was part of the supervisors’ consent agenda, and no one spoke for or against it when it and several other projects in other parts of the county came up for their consideration.
P.B. Bell and Everest Holdings want to raze what they call an under-utilized two-building office complex on nearly 14 acres at 15210 S. 50th St.
They need council’s blessing on its plan to construct four three-story buildings that would surround two four-story, 56-foot-high structures and a 12,000-square-foot clubhouse and swimming pool.
Developers in both cases pointed out their respective sites are currently underutilized for a variety of reasons.
And in both cases, developers say their “highly amenitized” complexes will be a boon to retail in the area and address a critical shortage of housing in the Valley.
While some neighbors have raised concerns about the larger complex’s impact on often-congested Ray Road, no one has voiced opposition to Caliber’s plan – which can’t go forward until Marriott International sells the hotel.
McAndrew would not comment on sale negotiations.
In its report to the supervisors, the county Planning and Development Department said it had “incorporated all design standards requested by the City of Phoenix” and indicated the city still has to sign off on a critical pre-construction component.
It said that before a building permit can be issued, Caliber must provide “an executed pre-annexation service agreement with the City of Phoenix that details either a timeline for annexation, or an agreement to provide water and sewer service.
“In lieu of pre-annexation service agreement the developer must provide a ‘will serve’ letter from the certificated water and sewer provider(s),” county planners said in their report.
They added there are “no near-future plans for the site being annexed to the city.”
They also said the city must agree to provide fire protection services prior to a building permit’s issuance and that Caliber must conform with several design requirements of its own.
Those requirements include 1.68 parking spaces per unit and 20% guest parking for a total 376 spaces, provide at least a 10-foot landscape setback along the southern edge of the site and provide a shaded sidewalk along 51st Street.
The only way to enter or leave the complex will be along 51st Street.
In pitching the proposal to the county, Caliber told the county in documents that their development “will provide support for the nearby commercial and businesses.”
“Not only will this community provide needed housing density in this area, but it will provide an alternative housing option with a variety of units sizes, upgraded interior finishes, and high-level common amenities,” it said.
“We expect this development to attract individuals with expendable income to spend in this area. Our research shows that there is little to no ongoing market demand for a hotel use at this location. The new hotels have shifted locations to Chandler and I-10 corridor which is closer to the high growth employment along the Chandler Boulevard corridor.
“We anticipate future residents of the proposed community would come from various demographic groups. One group that we expect to be attracted to this community would be young professionals looking for a residential experience.”
Predicting “the walkability to the nearby commercial center (will) be a big selling point for our community,” Caliber added:
“We also expect these professionals to be attracted because of the close proximity to I-10 Freeway. The proposed multi-family community will help to not only avoid vacancies in adjacent retail and restaurants but will support new commercial tenants because of the expendable income from individuals likely to live in this community. It also provides a much-needed housing opportunity within this high employment growth area.”
In addition to converting the hotel, Caliber would construct 18 new buildings with one- and two-bedroom apartments that would come in two different styles.
One style would be a three-story single-family building with private garages and driveways. There would be one four-unit cluster and two six-unit clusters of this building style.
The plan also calls for 40 two-story duplexes with attached garages.
In many ways, the plan for the 50th Street complex that P.B. Bell and Everest Holdings want to build has echoed the same themes as Caliber.
They say the office complex they hope to demolish has steadily lost tenants to newer and more efficient buildings as well as to shifting work habits that see more people work remotely from their homes.
Some Village Planning Committee members voiced concerns about that complex’s impact on traffic as well as on service calls to Phoenix Police.
Several neighbors noted that Ray Road between 48th Street and the freeway already is heavily congested at rush hour and on the weekends and said traffic from the complex would only add to the delay.
A lawyer for the developer said traffic is “just not here – it’s everywhere” and said “We’re happy to continue to work with this committee and neighbors on traffic as best we can.”
The developers also said they worked with a third-party traffic engineer and the city to study the project’s impact and that they concluded the impact would be minimal.
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