The culmination of countless hours of negotiation, planning and debate will be realized Saturday, April 1 as Westroc Hospitality opens the doors to a redefined Mountain Shadows Golf Resort.
A partnership between Westroc Hospitality and Woodbine Development Corp. has spurred the creation of a luxury resort and 18-hole golf course at 555 E. Lincoln Drive in the Town of Paradise Valley.
Set for its public debut is a full-service boutique resort featuring 183 guest rooms in a two-building complex, an adjacent luxury suite and loft wing containing 42 units, and a corner restaurant offering.
The Mountain Shadows Golf Course, an 18-hole course well-suited for today’s golfers, has been completely redesigned as part of the project.
Scottsdale-based Westroc operates Hotel Valley Ho and Sanctuary on Camelback, while the Dallas-based Woodbine Corp. is responsible for multi-use development at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, among a host of other properties.
“It has been actually much smoother than I think most people would realize,” said Scott Lyon in a Feb. 22 phone interview. “The tough journey was before we purchased the property. By the time we purchased it, it already had the zoning, what we bought was the resort, golf course and the commercial entitlement of the property.”
Mr. Lyon points out the Woodbine outfit has been indispensable in the creation of the revitalized Mountain Shadows resort property.
“The resort is actually being co-developed by both our companies and that relationship has really proven to be a great experience,” Mr. Lyon said of the business partnership with Woodbine, which is handling the day-to-day operations of Mountain Shadows. “We are using local consultants and architects.”
While the consultation is happening on the ground level the aesthetic of the resort has been hatched by New York-based MARKZEFF interior designs.
“The town really looks as this resort as really the core of the community,” Mr. Lyon said of what is at stake with the pending opening of Mountain Shadows.
“There is a lot personality to this hotel. For the size of the hotel itself, it actually has a lot more spaces where you can connect socially — that is one of the unique features. It is truly a modern design with form that follows function. The shell is really contemporary but the finishes on the inside are very warming.”
The legal saga that once was
The entitlement process of the Mountain Shadows Golf Resort was fraught with community consternation about building heights, density concerns and a once brewing zoning lawsuit that could have left the Town of Paradise Valley bankrupt.
The site where Mountain Shadows stands had been vacant since September 2004. The land, however, remained the centerpiece to an affluent subdivision known as Mountain Shadows east and west, which contains just under 120 homes.
Paradise Valley Town Council unanimously approved a special-use permit April 18, 2013 to give Crown Realty & Development, then-owner of the entire property, the green light to begin revamp efforts.
Approval by Paradise Valley Town Council came just 24 hours prior to a deadline set by a disclosure statement filed March 2013 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
If an SUP would not have been granted to Crown Realty, the Town of Paradise Valley could have faced a $25 million lawsuit.
Paradise Valley Town Attorney Andrew Miller asked Crown Realty officials to go on record saying they would be moving forward with bankruptcy proceedings under the guise of developing the Mountain Shadows property by the tenets of the approved SUP.
They obliged, and agreed that once the SUP was approved the 1992 development becomes null and void.
Crown Realty officials contend the underlying issue of the proposed revitalization of the property hinged on two documents: a 1992 development agreement and a 1962 declaration of restrictions placed on the attached residential property.
On file with then with the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office was a development agreement between the Town of Paradise Valley and Potomac Hotel Limited Partnership, the owner at the time, specifying what rules of development the property known as Mountain Shadows would adhere to.
The document — signed by then-mayor Kent D. Wick and attested to by former Town Clerk Lenore P. Lancaster — superseded any kind of special-use permit or process the town might want to impose on Crown Realty.
The first development agreement, which was done behind closed doors, was made to ensure the property of Mountain Shadows would be annexed within Paradise Valley town limits, records show.
The Mountain Shadows annexation agreement or Ordinance No. 336 was signed March 12, 1992 and the development agreement was signed about a month later, records show.
A new life for Mountain Shadows
In early 2015 a $10.5 million deal was struck between Westroc Hospitality, Woodbine Development Corp. and Crown Realty & Development for the creation of a $65 million luxury resort and 18-hole golf course where Mountain Shadows Golf Resort once stood.
Preceding that deal in late 2014, a subsidiary of Scottsdale-based Cullum Homes purchased the 40 residential lots — just over 9,500 square feet with a value of $575,000 per lot. The new homes are now known as The Village at Mountain Shadows.
During development agreement discussions, Crown Realty agreed to dedicate $1.6 million to the Town of Paradise Valley to completely renovate the then-rundown stretch of road at 56th Street at Lincoln Drive.
In all, Paradise Valley Town Council has approved five documents including an all-encompassing development agreement for the property, the SUP governing how development will unfold and a settlement agreement potentially freeing the municipality from any legal liability if a lawsuit were to arise.
“We have people moving in — I think we have 10 homeowners in there already,” said Rod Cullum, co-owner of Cullum Homes, in a Feb. 21 phone interview. “We have a couple more contracts this month; things are clicking right along.”
Mr. Cullum points out there are about 18 homes left to build at Mountain Shadows.
“We have three homes that we started and we just started three that will be move-in ready some as soon as a month from now,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of demand for a move-in ready product, which right now no one has offered yet.”
Mr. Cullum says there are 22 homes that are either occupied or under construction.
Modern midcentury decorum
Amber Anderson, Westroc director of design, says while the hotel seeks to perpetuate the idea of a 21st Century hotel the resort will retain features the visitors will recognize.
“This has the notion of being a mid-century hotel, but this hotel is extremely modern,” she explained in a Feb. 28 phone interview. “This is going to be a modern sleek hotel with nods to the mid-century aesthetic.
Ms. Anderson contends the layout of the hotel speaks to a modern framing of resort elegance dialed down for a social setting.
“Floor to ceiling glass that really frames Camelback Mountain,” she said of the open layout of the lobby building. “For the size of the hotel this space feels grand — open and airy. It is a striking space when you walk in.”
The idea of comfort is one Ms. Anderson hopes to achieve by the design of the communal areas of the hotel.
“Chic, clean and we definitely want people to feel very comfortable,” she said. “It is just linger, stay but still there is the opportunity to be active. It is definitely an invitation for community interactions there.”
Ms. Anderson says from start to finish Mountain Shadows captures the environment where it stands.
“If you are in a public space, it is all about where you are,” she said. “There is not a room that doesn’t have a great view of Camelback or Mummy Mountain. It is all about the environment and making the most of it. The exterior of the building is white and very modern but when you come into the building you do feel that warmth.”
Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins calls the Mountain Shadows resort an icon of the community.
“It was a long and difficult time coming, but the new Mountain Shadows resort signifies the rebirth of a famous icon and community treasure,” he said in a Feb. 27 statement. “We look forward to the great success of the property and its important contribution to the Valley and to the fabric of the Paradise Valley luxury lifestyle.”
Mayor Collins contends the resort property means more to the Town of Paradise Valley than dollars and cents.
“More than just a financial lifeblood, resorts are places Paradise Valley residents go to entertain, interact, and enjoy fine dining, spa and golf experiences and the other luxury amenities they offer. Paradise Valley is proud to be the leader in luxury resorts and luxury resort lifestyle,” he said.
North Valley News Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at 623-445-2774 or at email@example.com