After the recent opposition to the cross downtown Hanover project, another residential condominium development is under fire from nearby residents. The project submitted their proposal to the Scottsdale Development Review Commission this year with the project name of 3500 Toscana (3500 N Miller Rd. is the address). The site is on the northwest corner of Osborn and Miller Roads, adjacent to Scottsdale Stadium on the west and a single-family neighborhood across Miller to the east. The applicant perfectly utilized the zoning ordinance with the Downtown Overlay to fulfill his vision for a mini-urban community. Unfortunately, the neighbors across the street are unhappy with the initial plans for a variety of reasons.
The project sits on a 4.2-acre lot, boasting 97 condominium units ranging from a little over 1,000 square feet to 1,500 square feet. The neighbors are immediately concerned that this little site is unsuitable for a medium/high density development of this nature. It seems like their biggest concern is not building up the core of their downtown area, but keeping the privacy of their single-family homes away from denser mutli-family. Similar to the public decisions made for the Hanover project, it is inevitable that there will be a time when privacy, space and more technically, setbacks will not be restricted as they are in their present state. The neighbors also expressed that the increased traffic resulting from the development would make it more difficult for the residents to enter and exit the street. Privacy and too much traffic are some of the most widely used anti-urban growth methods the public takes advantage of.
Like I always say, neighborhood meetings are a key part of the process that can potentially help or hinder the city’s approval of the project. In my point of view, neighborhood opinion that is directed toward issues such as density, height and setbacks, which formulate the urban shape of the area, should be glorified when the developer attempts to meet or exceed the standards. These issues are now the most important development standards pertaining to land use sustainability. Cities all over the world push density, heights and proximity to the limits, creating highly efficient urban districts. It is unfortunate that necessary infill projects such as 3500 Toscana and Hanover are being brutally fought by residents. Phoenix’s inner cores are begging for redevelopment and infill projects, as fringe homes are no longer feasible and sustainable.
As I previously preached in the earlier blog regarding Hanover, urban growth of the existing cores is going to happen, one way or another, but maybe not this minute in this situation. However, if not this minute, then next year because horizontal sprawl is completely unsustainable and a completely inadequate use of this delicate desert. A projected 2.5 million people are moving to our metropolitan area in the next 2o years. The only way to accommodate them without suburbanizing another 500 square miles of desert is to redevelop and promote infill projects in every possible situation. It was estimated a few years ago that nearly one-third of the land in the Phoenix Metro Area was considered vacant with a possibility for infill or redevelopment. Yet home building on the fringe continued to over-saturate the market, now leaving a vital and timely opportunity for urban core growth.
Phoenix is already decades behind most cities in terms of urban living and pedestrian friendly environments, which are some of the main concepts of new urbanism trend. Please try and accept the possibility of change, and a necessary and positive shift of living and mobility.