Mountain View Medical Center revitalization begins Paradise Valley deliberations

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Mountain View Medical Center redevelopment (submitted graphic)

The Paradise Valley Planning Commission will begin its work reviewing plans for a three-phase reconstruction of Mountain View Medical Center, after Town Council approved marching orders earlier this November.

Paradise Valley Town Council approved a Statement of Direction for the medical facility with a 6-0 vote on Nov. 15, at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. Councilmember Mark Stanton was absent.

Mountain View Medical Center sits on the northwest edge of town, at 10555 N. Tatum Blvd., abutting the city of Phoenix.

A Statement of Direction is a document issued by Town Council giving the Planning Commission guidelines of scrutiny for the pending medical facility overhaul, which includes a complete demolition of the existing site.

Plans show Mountain View Medical Center is requesting to demolish all structures on the property in three phases, replaced with six new buildings — two of which are planned to be two-stories tall. In addition, they would add more parking and replace the existing parking canopies with new parking canopies.

The three phases for the property are eyed to be completed in 2019, 2020 and 2024, town officials say.

Town Council reviewed the SOD throughout this fall, pointing out areas they would like the Planning Commission to examine such as the use of the property, height, setbacks, impacts on residential neighbors and signage.

The medical center, built over 30 years ago, is seeking to redevelop its 9.79-acre site to stay competitive in the marketplace by attracting premier medical providers to Paradise Valley, an application submitted by Orcutt Winslow Architects states.

Possible tenant types listed in the application include: physician practices, dental offices, out-patient imaging services, sleep and pain centers, and more.

A graphic shows what the layout is proposed to be. (submitted graphic)

Medical marijuana dispensaries were specified as not being allowed, unless a special use permit was submitted to the town. Drug, alcohol and substance abuse or mental health rehabilitation programs will also not be allowed.

During the Nov. 15 meeting when the SOD was approved, Town Council members asked some final clarifying questions about the types of drugs offered at a pharmacy, hours of operation and open space areas that might be problematic for unwanted over-night visitors.

“Mr. Michaud, part of the discussion I believe with the applicant was that they were going to put about a 5-foot recess in front of these buildings so there would be a depression there — I believe that when we had our discussion the applicant was willing to make it ground level because it was a concern from a security and I think homeless issue, and police issue, and people hanging around after hours,” Councilmember Julie Pace asked of the longtime staff member.

Interim Community Development Director Paul Michaud said that change wasn’t necessarily agreed upon at that time, although it may change during Planning Commission’s review.

“So I need to clarify — if they don’t remove the depression in the front for security reasons — wasn’t what we talked about, was the council agreed to move it up level to the ground so that we could get rid of those areas that could be risks for homeless and others to stay here?” Ms. Pace asked.

“So what we’re putting in the revised Statement of Direction it will either be 30 (feet) or 35 (feet), and they’ll work that out with Planning and we’ll hear back on that later? I just wanted to thank the applicant for being open-minded about that because it is a security issue and it helps the neighborhood to not have people hanging around and sleeping there.”

The building height as described in the application states that the two two-story buildings are set to have their first floor at 5-feet below natural grade, which would create a garden level.

Ms. Pace also questioned what the pharmacy infrastructure will be made of, asking how much of the storefront was made of glass, and echoed Councilmember David Sherf in wondering about narcotics being distributed from the pharmacy.

“I think the values in our community, people would want to know if there’s Class 1 and Class 2 (narcotics), methadone labs, things like that — I’d like to see that added for consideration by Planning,” she said.

Julie Pace

“And to at least evaluate the use of Class 1 and Class 2 narcotics being distributed from this facility. I’d like to also get police input for security for those types of narcotics being offered there. The second thing I want to ask you, in their pharmacy do they have brick and mortar facility around it? Or is it glass and open where someone can drive a car through to steal the narcotics? What’s the plan on that?”

Mr. Michaud said the current pharmacy has some glass in the doorway, but it’s mostly brick.

Planning Commission Chair Daran Wastchak, who attended the meeting, used a public comment portion of the meeting to clarify some of the council’s questions as compared to another medical plaza in town that is also going through redevelopment.

“When we did Lincoln Medical, we looked at Class 1 and Class 2 drugs, all the safety, all the infrastructure that had to do with that; we also looked at the hours of operation, to your point Councilmember Moore,” Mr. Wastchak said.

“So my sense of that as we lead that discussion and you hand it off to us, was that Lincoln Medical was something we thoroughly vetted. I don’t see a reason for things to be different between Lincoln Medical and what would be at the other medical plazas.”

Mr. Wastchak said he thought Planning Commission would use Lincoln Medical as a guideline.

“Just for the information of the council, we’ll probably going to use that as the guidelines because they provided the reasons for what they wanted. We’ll be looking at the hours and what their reasons are, but we are probably inclined to follow the same direction that we did from Lincoln Medical,” Mr. Wastchak said. “Because again, a lot of that was vetted, it’s the same uses, same policies — and if it passed from us to you, and you guys didn’t have any problems — we would probably stick to that same policy. Does that make sense?”

The Lincoln Medical Plaza at 7125 E. Lincoln Drive had it’s SOD approved by council in June.

Mayor Michael Collins responded to Mr. Wastchak by saying he makes sense, but his logic may be incorrect.

“The council may not feel that way about the other application, at this time,” Mr. Collins said.

“I think what you’re hearing now from the council reflects the current attitude and perspective on those topics.”

Mr. Wastchak said it’s good to know there is a different in opinion from one project to another.

The council amended the SOD to address any proposed storage and distribution of Schedule I and II drugs including security, facility and environmental design. Evaluate hours of pharmacy being increased from 8 to 6 p.m. to longer hours.

News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

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